(Reuters) - The bipartisan panel created by President Barack Obama to recommend ways to tackle the skyrocketing U.S. budget deficit holds its first meeting on Tuesday.
The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility is to report its recommendations by December. The 18 members have been chosen separately by Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader John Boehner.
Here is some information about members of the commission.
ERSKINE BOWLES, co-chairman
Bowles, the president of the University of North Carolina since 2006, started his business career at Morgan Stanley in New York and later founded an investment banking firm.
Former President Bill Clinton named him to lead the Small Business Administration in 1993, and Bowles became the president’s chief of staff from 1996 to 1998. In that position, he helped negotiate the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 with Republican congressional leaders, producing the first balanced U.S. budget in nearly 30 years.
ALAN SIMPSON, co-chairman
Simpson was the No. 2 Republican in the Senate for a decade. His chief legacy in the Senate was the overhaul of U.S. immigration law that was signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 after intense lobbying by special interest groups.
Simpson was also known as a strong voice for fiscal balance, voting in favor of the 1990 bipartisan deficit reduction agreement, a U.S. official said.
OTHER MEMBERS APPOINTED BY OBAMA
Cote, a Republican, has served as Honeywell International chairman, chief executive and president since 2002. He is a member of the U.S.-India CEO Forum, which Obama asked him to co-chair in 2009. He adds a business perspective to Obama’s slate of representatives on the panel.
Rivlin is a former Federal Reserve vice chair who was also budget director under Bill Clinton. She was the founding director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office from 1975 to 1983. Now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, she would bring budget savvy to the panel.
Fudge worked as chairman and chief executive of Young & Rubicam Brands from 2003 to 2006. She previously held executive positions at General Mills and Kraft. Fudge would bring business experience to the budget panel.
Stern is president of the Service Employees International Union, which covers 2.2 million workers such as healthcare staffers, security officers and public employees. Stern would bring a labor perspective to the panel.
NAMED BY SENATE DEMOCRATIC LEADER HARRY REID
SENATOR RICHARD DURBIN
Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, is a liberal from Illinois who could be expected to oppose proposals to reduce the yawning U.S. deficit by cuts in programs like Social Security, the U.S. government retirement program.
SENATOR KENT CONRAD
Budget Committee Chairman Conrad, from North Dakota, is a fiscally conservative Democrat who has advocated some cuts to entitlement programs along with some tax hikes to close the deficit.
SENATOR MAX BAUCUS
Baucus, the Finance Committee chairman, is a moderate Montana Democrat who worked for months in vain to try to forge bipartisan healthcare legislation with Republicans. He has called for tax reform and cuts in entitlements to balance the budget.
NAMED BY SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL
SENATOR JUDD GREGG
Gregg, from New Hampshire, is the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee. Obama once nominated Gregg to be commerce secretary, but Gregg withdrew from that appointment, saying he did not support Obama’s economic stimulus package.
SENATOR TOM COBURN
A medical doctor and critic of Obama’s recent healthcare overhaul, the Oklahoma Republican crusades against earmarks, the pet projects that lawmakers tuck into spending bills. Coburn calls them the “gateway drug to spending addiction.”
SENATOR MIKE CRAPO
An Idaho Republican, Crapo is a member of the banking, budget and finance committees. Along with Senator Charles Schumer, Crapo has been trying -- so far unsuccessfully -- to develop bipartisan proposals for executive pay and shareholder rights as part of financial regulation reform.
NAMED BY HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI
REPRESENTATIVE JOHN SPRATT
The Democrat from South Carolina is chairman of the House Budget Committee and participated in Balanced Budget Act negotiations in 1997 that helped put the budget into surplus. Spratt emphasized the need to find common ground to put the country back on solid fiscal footing.
REPRESENTATIVE XAVIER BECERRA
From California, Becerra serves as vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and sits on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. He said it will be necessary to make tough choices “to build a prosperous, debt-free future for our children.”
REPRESENTATIVE JAN SCHAKOWSKY
The Illinois Democrat is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. She is said to be a leading voice in favor of protecting health and retirement security for seniors and to protect the Social Security retirement and Medicare health program for seniors.
NAMED BY HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADER JOHN BOEHNER
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN
Ryan, from Wisconsin, is the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee. He recently proposed a long-term plan for deficit reduction that eventually would put the United States in the black without raising taxes. It would do this by cutting programs like Medicare, the U.S. government’s health insurance program for the elderly and disabled.
REPRESENTATIVE JEB HENSARLING
Hensarling, from Texas, is a member of the budget and financial services committees who pushed for the House Republicans’ recent one-year moratorium on earmarks. He has proposed capping federal spending at 20 percent of the U.S. economy every year.
REPRESENTATIVE DAVE CAMP
Camp, from Michigan, is the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee. He contends the U.S. budget should be balanced without raising taxes, and favors passing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution requiring a balanced budget.
Compiled by Jeff Mason, David Alexander, Donna Smith and Susan Cornwell; Editing by Will Dunham
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