- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 2, 2010

Two top Republicans on the president’s high-profile deficit reduction commission — Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Michael D. Crapo of Idaho — said Thursday they will support the blueprint rolled out this week by the panel’s co-chairmen — edging the plan closer to garnering the support it needs to be forwarded to Congress.

“Our debt crisis is a threat to not just our way of life, but our national survival,” the conservative lawmakers said in a joint statement a day ahead of the showdown vote on the plan’s fate.

The announcement came about an hour after Rep. Paul D. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican and also a commission member, said he would oppose the plan because it falls far short of properly tackling health care costs and the problems he said were posed by President Obama’s new health care overhaul plan.

The endorsements from Mr. Coburn and Mr. Crapo give the deficit-cutting plan rolled out the support of nine members of the 18-member panel appointed by Mr. Obama earlier this year to propose a plan to rein in soaring U.S. debt levels. But the final plan must have the support of 14 members before it can be approved and sent along to Capitol Hill for possible action.

Democratic leaders in Congress have said they would schedule a vote on the final package of tax increases, spending cuts, and major changes to entitlement programs and the tax code if the commission can unite around a plan.

“This is a starting point,” Mr. Coburn said. “If we pass this bill tomorrow, it does not get us out of the woods.”

Both men said neither party has the luxury of partisan politics. They said the plan still needs work, but they applauded the plan’s tax-reform provisions to broaden the tax base and reduce tax rates.

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