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.


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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Alan Simpson is certainly making a name for himself as the grouchy old neighbor of American politics. Not that he’s not right.

    Now get off my lawn!

  2. TG Chicago says:

    Simpson really likes the off-color animal metaphors, doesn’t he?

    (Okay, technically he said that Social Security is “like a milk cow with 310 million tits,” thus making it a simile, but you get the point)

  3. wr says:

    The only way we can make the future comfortable for the descendants of multi-millionaires like Simpson — who will be paying a greatly reduced inheritance tax — is to make sure that old people die in poverty and poor people die without medical care. Because that’s what America is all about!