That group of bipartisan senators is working on legislation that would be based on the recommendations of the fiscal panel led by Bowles and Simpson.
Both men said that with all the plans on the table, the time is soon coming when Congress will have to combine the best parts of all the plans offered and take action.
Simpson said that “the next step is key, and that is the Gang of Six.” But he praised Obama’s decision to tap Vice President Joe Biden to lead the negotiations on behalf of the administration.
Simpson threw cold water on Obama’s call for a solution by the end of June, calling an artificial deadline in Washington “a lost cause.”
“The goofiest thing you can do is say 'by this date we're going to be there,' ” Simpson said.
Obama praised the work of Bowles and Simpson, saying that their report helped develop his own thinking on how to rein in the deficit.
“As they pointed out in their bipartisan effort, it is important that we put everything on the table,” Obama said. “We’ve got to make some tough decisions when it comes to domestic spending.
“We’ve got to look at everything, including our security spending, in order to achieve the goal that we need. It’s important that we look at our tax code and find a way to work together to not only simplify and make the tax system fairer, but also that we use it as a tool to help us achieve our deficit targets.”
The president’s plan, delivered in a speech Republicans likened to a campaign address on Wednesday, has run into criticism from GOP lawmakers. They said the president’s proposal to raise taxes on the wealthy is a nonstarter.
Obama would raise tax rates for families with income above $250,000 annually.
“It’s also important — and I think these gentlemen share the view — that we can’t exempt anybody from these efforts; that it’s not appropriate for us to ask for sacrifices from everybody except for the 2 percent of Americans who are doing best, but rather we should ask everybody to participate in this effort to get our fiscal house in order,” Obama said Thursday.