Alan Simpson: Deficit Reduction Talk Pointless Unless It Includes Entitlements And Defense
Deficit Commission co-chair Alan Simpson unloaded yesterday against deficit reduction plans coming out of Congress that he charged were entirely un-serious:
WASHINGTON — Former senator Alan Simpson, who co-chaired President Obama’s debt commission, blasted lawmakers for refusing to take on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and defense, saying that anything else is just a “sparrow belch in the midst of the typhoon.”
“We’re going to get rid of all earmarks, all waste, fraud and abuse, all foreign aid, Air Force One, all congressional pensions,” said Simpson on Sunday in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “That’s just sparrow belch in the midst of the typhoon. That’s about six, eight, ten percent of where we are. So, I’m waiting for the politician to get up and say, there’s only one way to do this: you dig into the big four, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and defense. And anybody giving you anything different than that, you want to walk out the door, stick your finger down your throat, and give them the green weenie.”
While many Republicans are still resisting cutting the defense budget, Simpson said that military spending needed to be addressed in order to seriously reduce the deficit. He said that the commission asked Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) about what they hear from the Defense Department about cutting contractors. “They don’t know how many contractors they have,” he said in amazement of the Pentagon. “It’s something between 250,000 and a million. So, our proposal is to cut 250,000 contractors out of the game.”
He also called for Americans to sacrifice more during wartime. “Let me tell you, guys, nobody’s going to hurt the military,” he said. “We’re not going to hurt Iran and Iraq, but this is the first war, in our history, where we never had a tax to support a war, including the Revolution. And nobody has sacrificed in this country, nobody, accept the people in the military. And, in our report, we use words like sacrifice, self-sacrifice. We use words like going broke. And it’s written in English. It’s not written for pundits or parliamentarians or journalists. It’s written for the American people.
Simpson is, of course, absolutely correct. He also never has to worry about running for office again, which is why he can afford to be bluntly honest about our fiscal situation, while incumbent politicians like to pretend they’re doing something about the problem by going after earmarks and “government waste.” Until we find a way to get around that particular dichotomy, we are never going to solve our problems.