Senators voice deficit panel concerns

Jan. 24, 2010 at 2:39 PM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- The idea of creating a bipartisan commission with the power to cut the U.S. budget deficit is problematic, two U.S. senators said Sunday.

President Barack Obama on Saturday signaled support for a commission created by Congress whose proposals to reduce the deficit would be legally binding. But Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Robert Menendez, D-N.J., each voiced reservations about the idea on CNN's "State of the Union."

"I'd have a rough time supporting it, to be honest with you," Hatch said. "I think it'd just wind up being another excuse (to raise taxes) rather than facing the tough problems that we all should be facing right now, that the president should be facing."

Menendez said he was troubled by an aspect of the proposal that would allow only an "up-or-down" vote on the commission's proposals, rather than allowing Congress to add amendments.

"Up-or-down votes on what an (unelected) group of people decided, is to some degree giving up the responsibility that you had to the people who elected you," Menendez told CNN.

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