Erskine Bowles, a Democratic former White House chief of staff, and Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator, emphasized national "sacrifice" when they unveiled an ambitious deficit-reduction plan this week in their role as the heads of a presidential debt commission. About 57% of their plan's proposals involve spending cuts, and about a quarter involve increasing tax revenues, in order to slash the federal deficit by $4 trillion between 2012 and 2020. Critics from both parties have voiced doubts about the plan's ability to garner support from the rest of the commission's 16 members, and from Congress.

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