Appearing on Meet the Press this morning, former Republican senator Alan Simpson and former Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles, the chairman of the president’s deficit reduction commission, spoke with a candor uncharacteristic of Sunday-show guests. Both Simpson and Bowles charged that the measures Congress has taken to address our debt and deficit problems are woefully inadequate; Simpson had particularly harsh words for the fiscal cliff deal signed into law last week and for President Obama in particular.
“The mountain roared and gave birth to a mouse,” Simpson said of the deal. “This things isn’t going to do anything, really.” Simpson savaged the president and Congress for ignoring the recommendations produced by the deficit reduction commission. “Don’t forget, in our commission, we got five Democrats, including Dick Durbin, five Republicans, including Tom Coburn, one independent, how do you do any better than that?” Simpson asked. “And the president ignored it, and the Congress has ignored it because they won’t do the big stuff, and the big stuff has got to get done…we’re the healthiest horse in the glue factory right now.”
Bowles emphasized that, while lawmakers have tackled the easy problems facing the nation, the more difficult ones remain. “We have got to reform the tax code to make it more globally competitive, we have got to reduce this entitlement spending…and we have got to make social security sustainably solvent.” Bowles said. “It’s gotta be growth, it’s gotta have some revenue, but the big part going forward has gotta be spending cuts,” he concluded.