Q&A: Fiscal Summit

task force or a steering committee within the Congress, or a commission from without Congress?  That’s still an issue to be resolved.  But I don’t think it’s an issue we can’t resolve.  And we moved towards discussion of some sort of hybrid of the two.

Clearly that’s important.  I think everyone in that room would agree that if we’re to succeed at what we’re setting out to do, we need a special process that we can — by which we can accomplish it.  (Inaudible) — you need to have some assurance that whatever we agree upon can indeed be brought to the floor of each House and brought to a vote.

Many of us think it’s too draconian to compare this to the BRAC process where you get an up or down vote, no amendments.  But there needs to be some sort of fast track and special procedure to ensure that whatever the entities come up with it will be viewed and considered.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Jack.

Since I see her right — sitting right next to you, Susan, you were in the procurement task force?

SENATOR COLLINS:  Yes.

THE PRESIDENT:  Did you have any thoughts on –

SENATOR COLLINS:  Yes.  If you look across the federal government, there are problems in IT contracts no matter where you look.  And one recommendation that our group talked about is establishing some kind of (inaudible) law to apply to IT contracts.

In general, we also talked about the need for more competition in contracts, for justification for a cost-plus contract.  My favorite pet peeve is we don’t have enough skilled contracting officers.  We’ve had an enormous increase in the volume of contracts at a time when the acquisition work force has actually declined by 22 percent.  So those were some of the issues that we discussed in addition to what Senator McCain said.

THE PRESIDENT:  Charlie, you’re right here in front of — Kent talked about revenue.  You were participating in the tax reform panel.

REPRESENTATIVE RANGEL:  First let me thank you for bringing us together.  The Secretary of Treasury provided a lot of leadership — (inaudible) — certainly recognize what (inaudible) — that we do something.  (Inaudible) — thought of the tax structure, people thought it was relatively easy to dramatically reduce the rates that make us internationally competitive.  The problems, of course, was the different views they have in how you handle the individual raise.

I don’t think there’s any committee in the House that would be more anxious to bring forth a product, whether it’s in health care, tax reform or Social Security, to bring forth something in a bipartisan way.  And I think this is a dramatic first step to see where we’re going.  As I said, I don’t want to seem to be corny, but it would appear as though that if America recognized the crisis, that they’re not looking for a Democratic or Republican solution.  And in order for us to be politically successful, they’re going have to believe that it was done in a bipartisan way.

So I think this initiative is a

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