But its chief purpose is to propose a laundry list of new taxes to pay for Obama's costly vision of a far bigger government than we have now, and to give him and the Democrats political cover while they continue to spend our money like there's no tomorrow.
If Obama were truly concerned about the deficits the feds have racked up, he wouldn't have produced a budget that last year left behind a deficit of $1.4 trillion, a post-World War II spending record. Indeed, his budgets are projecting trillion-dollar deficits for most of this decade to come.
He could have called for a commission as soon as he was inaugurated to deal with the mounting federal debt, whose size is expected to be about 90 percent of the U.S. economy by 2020.
But Obama had a lot of big spending bills to enact first. A nearly $900 billion "stimulus" bill to create jobs that, judging by the stubborn 10 percent jobless rate, has proven to be a failure. A government-run healthcare plan that is purported to cost $1 trillion, but that we all suspect will cost taxpayers trillions of dollars more.
Throw in hundreds of billions more for his energy bill, his plans for an army of financial regulators, including a bottomless bank-bailout fund, and his continuing expansion of the social-welfare bureaucracy, and now we're talking real money.
He knows all of this additional government doesn't come cheap, and he will need more money to pay for it all, so one of the commission's primary jobs is to come up with ways to extract more taxes from the U.S. economy and middle-class American workers.
Last week, just as the 18-member commission was about to hold its first meeting, Obama told reporters that "everything has to be on the table," a statement that the Washington Post said "raises the possibility that he could ... backtrack on his pledge not to raise taxes for the middle class."
The president and other senior administration officials "have left the door open to tax increases, even for those earning less than $250,000 a year," the Post reported last week.
To make sure that the commission lays the groundwork for higher taxes to pay for Obama's record spending levels, the White House has stacked the panel with people who have a record of supporting tax increases and more government spending.