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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama said Tuesday Washington must urgently confront unpleasant truths about deficits, while the Federal Reserve chairman said failure to mop up red-ink spending would "ultimately do great damage" to the country.
Obama refused to rule out measures that would fight "exploding deficits." This signaled that politically toxic tax increases were options that could be under consideration by members of a panel he tasked with reducing federal deficits that threaten to erode Americans' standard of living.
Obama explicitly told reporters in the White House's Rose Garden that neither he nor his commission members would say what options remain viable.
"We're not playing that game. 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," said the president, flanked by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, the two men he asked to lead efforts to reach a consensus plan for the deficit.
It's a task, though, that even members of the bipartisan fiscal commission admit is an almost impossible chore: produce a deficit no bigger than $550 billion by 2015, an amount equal to about 3 percent of the total U.S. economy. That would require deficit savings in the range of $250 billion or more.
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