It will be "extremely difficult" for President Obama's fiscal commission to pass significant recommendations to bring down the nation's long-term deficits and debt, the second-ranking Senate Democrat said Thursday.
Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinThe Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch rewrites playbook for confirmation hearings Gorsuch: I'm 'sorry' for ruling against autistic student MORE (Ill.), the majority whip and a member of the commission, said in an interview that the "toxic" political environment created by the midterm elections threatens to undermine the proposals the panel is expected to make in December.
Durbin's comments are an acknowledgment of the pressure the panel faces from both political parties, and suggest that the panel could release a proposal that is less ambitious than some believe.
In order for the bipartisan commission to authorize a proposal, it must be approved by 14 of the 18 members, which Durbin said will likely be an uphill climb.
For months, Republican and Democratic lawmakers have expressed worry that the panel will recommend to Congress sizable tax increases, changes to entitlement programs or large spending cuts.
This week, over half the members of the House Democratic Caucus wrote to the president saying that they will oppose any cut to Social Security benefits, any effort to raise the retirement age from 65 and any effort to privatize the popular program.
Durbin said that he prefers to raise the percentage of wages that can be taxed for Social Security revenue in an effort to make the program more solvent, but that the panel will likely have to arrive at a compromise proposal.
"It's a good group of people, but it really reflects the broad spectrum of American politics — it's a tough thing to do," he said. "Both are going to have to give; finding that sweet spot is our responsibility."