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Deficit Panel on Proposal: Eh

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WASHINGTON BUREAU — Members of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform today gave some support to a deficit-cutting blueprint draft, but not enough to send the proposal to Congress.

Only 11 of the 18 commission members voted to approve the “Moment of Truth” draft; the draft needed to win 14 votes to trigger immediate transmission of the report to Congress.

President Obama appointed the commission to come up with ideas for cutting the federal budget deficit.

Although the commission could not reach a consensus on the issue, members’ work shows it is possible to have an adult conversation about the deficit, said Erskine Bowles, the commission co-chair and a former Clinton administration White House chief of staff.

The other co-chair, Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming, said the panel “took a big banana and threw it into the gorilla cage.” Now, he predicted, lawmakers will play with the banana, Budget proposal banana“but they will eat some.”

“Many pieces of this will be digested and will nourish this country,” Simpson said.

Bowles and Simpson recommended eliminating or drastically changing the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act that is supposed to be created by the Affordable Care Act.

They also talked about the need to revamp Medicare coverage plan designs and the possibility of chipping away at the current exclusion for employer spending on group health coverage.