"We believe that elected officials of the land, the Congress of the United States, should review this in a bipartisan way in our committees," she said. "If people want commissions they can have commissions, but that doesn't mean we're abdicating our responsibility to keep Social Security solvent, and we are committed to doing that.''
Monday's well-staged "fiscal responsibility" summit came a day before Obama is to speak to a joint session of Congress, and three days before he rolls out his broad budget plans.
He used the meeting to stress that he's more of a fiscal conservative than critics charge. He and other speakers noted that Obama didn't create the record federal budget deficits, that his $787 billion stimulus package of spending and tax cuts won't add much to that deficit long term because it's only temporary and that he wants to start cutting other spending.
"The Obama administration has inherited the worst fiscal situation in the nation's modern economic history," said Mark Zandi, the well-known chief economist at Moody's Economy.com, who was given a spot on the stage with the president.
While the deep recession has sent deficits soaring, thanks to lower tax revenues and increased costs, Zandi said they were unavoidable in the short term. "These are a problem," he said. "Problems for another day, however."
Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities added that "the recent economic recovery package is not driving the problem. That package is temporary, and it increased the size of the long-term fiscal gap by only about one-tenth of 1 percentage point" of the total economy.
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