By Walter Alarkon - 04/27/10 02:16 PM EDT
President Barack Obama said he won’t answer questions about cutting deficits while his fiscal commission does its work.
"All of you friends of the media will ask me and others once a week or once a day about what we're willing to rule out or rule in," he said at the start of the first meeting of the commission at the White House. That's an "old Washington game" that has prevented policymakers from addressing large deficits in the past, Obama said.
"We're not playing that game," he added. "I'm not going to say what's in, I'm not going to say what's out. I want this commission to be free to do its work."
Obama wants the 18-member commission to produce a plan to rein in debt by December. Fourteen of the panel’s members must approve the plan to make it out of the commission. Democratic leaders in Congress have pledged to bring up the proposals for a vote.
The commission has said it will consider tax increases, spending cuts and changes to entitlement programs, including Medicare and Social Security.
The level of debt is expected to grow from roughly 60 percent of gross domestic product to 90 percent by 2020, which independent economists say would be an "unsustainable" level.
Obama said the debt problem won't be solved without bipartisan support, which is why he created the commission by executive order.
"This is going to require people of both parties to come together and take a hard look at the growing gap between what the government spends and what the government raises in revenue," he said.