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Would-be Cabinet secretary named to deficit panel

The Associated Press

A Republican senator whom Barack Obama once tried to make his secretary of commerce will be among the members of Congress to serve on the president's deficit commission.

Judd Gregg of New Hampshire was among a half-dozen lawmakers named by Republican congressional leaders to serve on the 18-member panel that is supposed to help rein in ballooning federal deficits.

Friday's announcement made it clear that the lawmakers, including Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who directly challenged Obama at a recent health care summit, were selected to focus on the job of cutting spending, not raising taxes. Gregg at first agreed to join Obama's Cabinet, but then reneged, saying he didn't agree with the president's stimulus spending policies.

The announcement made it clear that the lawmakers were named to focus on cutting spending rather than raising taxes.

House Minority Leader John Boehner named Reps Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and Dave Camp, R-Mich. And Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky named Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho, along with Gregg and Coburn.

The 18-member panel will study the issue for much of the year and, if 14 members agree, report a deficit reduction blueprint for a possible vote after the November elections.