Fiscal panel co-chair blasts critics as “jerks”

History will not be kind to either Simpson or the equally out of paradigm headline critics who are equally responsible for losing this battle.

Fiscal panel co-chair blasts critics as “jerks”

February 6 (Reuters) — Any fiscal plan that fails to tackle military spending, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security is “a sparrow’s belch in the midst of a typhoon,” a chairman of a presidential deficit-reduction commission said in an interview aired on Sunday.

Former Senator Alan Simpson, Republican co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, also trashed certain critics as “jerks” and compared the United States to “a milk cow with 300 million teats.”

“If you have a career politician get up and say, ‘I know we can get this done; we’re going to get rid of all earmarks, all waste, fraud, and abuse, all foreign aid, Air Force one, all congressional pensions,’ that’s a sparrow’s belch in the midst of a typhoon,” Simpson told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

President Barack Obama created the bipartisan, 18-member commission to address fiscal challenges centered around a deficit of more than $1.3 trillion, the highest since World War Two, and a record federal debt now topping $14 trillion.

A bold budget-balancing plan floated by Simpson — long noted for earthy, sometimes off-color remarks — and his fellow co-chairman, Erskine Bowles, fell short in December of the support needed from panel members to trigger congressional action.

“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,” Simpson said. “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.”

Simpson and Bowles recommended Social Security benefit cuts via a higher retirement age, lower annual cost-of-living adjustments and a change in the way benefits are calculated.

“We’re not talking about privatization,” he said on CNN. “These jerks who keep dragging that up are lying. We never suggested that.”

Simpson served from 1979 to 1997 as a Senator from Wyoming. He had apologized in August for comparing Social Security to “a milk cow with 310 million teats.”

But in the interview he said he had merely misspoken.

“I meant to say that America was a milk cow with 300 million teats, and not just Social Security.”

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16 Responses to Fiscal panel co-chair blasts critics as “jerks”

  1. jcmccutcheon says:

    a proposal to make unemployment compensation beneficiaries work as volunteers in order to qualify for benefits.


    jcmccutcheon Reply:

    In Florida


    beowulf Reply:

    Could you paste a link? “beneficiaries” didn’t click through.


  2. Joe says:

    Nassim Taleb is shorting treasuries (again) on the basis of there being a national debt problem. I think this trade helped do-in Pelligrini’s fund last year.


    art Reply:

    Sometimes smart people say dumb things.

    The Germany comment is far more poignant than he realizes, isn’t it?

    Irony is that the folks short the UST curve’s long end could make some money this year (if they’re tactical about it, and if inflation numbers don’t surprise to the downside) due to the *positive* effects of US deficits. But as a long term strategic position, they’re tying themselves to the tracks, I think. Cue Alan Simpson as Dudley Do-Right. :)

    Disclosure: not long or short US Treasuries, some clients long US Treasuries, no plans to change either of those in the next 72 hours


    Unforgiven Reply:

    It seems all of that talk about austerity made Fritz hungry for a nice plate full of Spendzjaeger….


  3. He’s changing his story. Didn’t he originally say: “310,000,000 tits”?


    roger erickson Reply:

    > He’s changing his story. Didn’t he originally say: “310,000,000 tits”?

    Yes, and he’s ~2,000,000 “T”‘s behind the times even there.

    I’m more worried about the proportional number of people with the “B”‘s to call this charlatan a useless demagogue.


  4. Tom Hickey says:

    Why does anyone listen to this man? He is a tried and true fiscal conservative, and what he will say is entirely predictable. He hasn’t had a new idea in ages and just runs off at the mouth. The only thing that makes him interesting to the media is his prickliness.

    Fiscal conservatives are discovering that no one wants to cut the things that need to be cut to reduce the deficit materially — as if it needed to be reduced. The majority of people think that the problem can be fixed by cutting foreign aid and grants to the arts, while reducing “waste, fraud, and abuse.” The majority of the public is in la-la land on this. When it comes to cutting programs that they benefit from, forget about it.

    Prominent fiscal conservative Bruce Bartlett: Voter Ignorance Threatens Deficit Reduction

    Looks like the fiscal conservatives are barking up the wrong tree.


    beowulf Reply:

    “The majority of the public is in la-la land on this.”

    Not completely. First, you can discount “grant to the arts” as just an artifact of Public Broadcasting (actually run by individual states) being on TV and FM radio. Zero out the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and give tax credits for donations to state public broadcasting entities and everybody wins. Second, as for foreign aid, think how much the military spends overseas. Or looking it in terms of reduction in GDP, the outflow in consumer spending related to foreign imports (from Asian countries that exclude US exports), US firms offshoring of factories and jobs (or for that matter, the tens of billions that illegal immigrants working here wire home)– all due to conscious government policy, the TPTB of both parties carry out corporate orders while assuming the rubes won’t figure out whats going on. The man on the street isn’t wrong to “feel” that foreign spending is far higher than what the OMB books as “foreign aid”.

    That people lowball military spending is just ideological bias, true. Since everybody loves military Keynesianism, I’ve often thought we should just go with the flow and fund as much public investment as possible through the DoD budget instead of, say, DOT. The Army Corps of Engineers already does a ton of civil work and would be delighted to do more, the Air Force could build out GPS-based congestion pricing and air navigation systems (seeing as they already run the GPS network) and your old shipmates could run nuclear reactors on federal lands and sell the power like the Corps of Engineers sells its hydropower (actually DoE markets the power, but we’ll keep that detail under our hat). :o)


    roger erickson Reply:

    > Voter Ignorance Threatens Deficit Reduction

    True. A comedy of errors. Worry is that very, very big spenders are investing in what they call education – what anyone with operational experience will call either treasonous propaganda, or innocent fraud at best.


    Tom Hickey Reply:

    Peterson is lobbying to get his nefarious talking points in the Texas high school texts, which are used widely in other states, too. “Hook ‘em while they are young and impressionable.” I guess he learned from the tobacco companies.


  5. Zanon,

    I don’t agree with Mr. Foul Mouth that reducing the entitlement programs is the only way to reduce the money supply and thereby cause a recession. We also can increase taxes, to cause that recession. Or we can do both, if we want a really, really powerful depression.

    It’s a shame the President appointed a “presidential deficit-reduction commission,” rather than appointing a “presidential economic growth commission.” But we’re fortunate. He might have appointed a “presidential destroy the economy commission.” Oh, wait a minute. He did.

    Rodger Malcolm Mitchell


  6. zanon says:

    Simpson is correct in that the entitlement program are the only way to reduce the deficit.

    the problem is that he does not know what the “deficit” actually is. and that is not his fault, it is fault of harvard econ department


    mike valotta Reply:

    Yep, guys like Greg Mankiw don’t help matters. Mankiw, the guy that took a major Keynes quote out of context, yet posted it on his blog. He was later corrected by a very smart economist. Ignorance pure and simple.


    zanon Reply:

    why focus on greg? he’s just part of choir–they all sing from same hymnal. even taht odious politician krugman


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