My View: Al Simpson and Erskine Bowles
Today in the Washington Post, Fiscal Commission Co-Chairs and CRFB Board Members Al Simpson and Erskine Bowles wrote an op-ed titled, "The Super Committee's Make-or-Break Question," noting that they are not surprised that the Super Committee is going down to the wire to reach an agreement - their experience on the Fiscal Commission taught them how hard this issue is.
They then offered advice that the easiest way to reach a deal is to "go big and go broad", echoing our own Go Big campaign. They say:
"So how do you start such an agreement? Go big and go broad. One of the lessons from our work leading the Fiscal Commission is that it is key to take an approach both large enough to match the magnitude of the problem and comprehensive enough to allow for the tradeoffs and balance necessary to reach a bipartisan agreement. Fiscal Commission members were willing to take on their own sacred cows and fight special interests—but if, and only if, they saw others doing the same. The stark reality is that to take on anything in negotiations such as these, you almost have to take on everything. A supermajority of the commission would not have voted for our plan had we not taken on defense, domestic programs, the solvency of Social Security, health care, and spending in the tax code all at once."
They conclude by noting that this issue is so important, that political ideologies and special interests have to come second. The big picture has to take precedence. Furthermore, they note that fixing our fiscal problem serves both parties, noting that:
"We need more politicians who understand the calculus that personal priorities and common good coexist. The nation desperately needs broad, bipartisan agreement based on shared sacrifices. And the members of the supercommittee know the policy options and the choices that must be made. Now, it’s a matter of getting the committee’s members to recognize that statesmanship can also be a political win. Some might even call this leadership."
Click here to read the full Washington Post op-ed.
Additionally today, former Senator Al Simpson penned his own op-ed on CNN entitled, "All it takes to solve U.S. Debt is Willpower." Simpson notes that our fiscal situation will require supremely hard choices and rejects the notion out of hand that the problem can be fixed by taxes, spending, or economic growth alone -- all three are required. Simpson then goes into the fact that no fiscal plan will be perfectly ideal or liked by everyone, nor should it be. Sacred cows will be lost and tough choices have to be made. However, when politicians have the will, they make the right choice. Simpsons notes:
"When Dick Durbin announced that he was supporting our plan he said he was doing so even though it contained items he 'hated like the devil hates holy water' and he knew his vote for it would deeply disappoint many of his friends and allies. Tom Coburn well knew he would be demonized on taxes by the zealous enforcers of ideological purity like Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform. But both Tom Coburn and Dick Durbin, and a supermajority of our commission, were willing to give up something they like to protect the country they love. Our nation simply cannot afford to have our elected leaders fearfully bow and scrape to the likes of Grover Norquist and the AARP. We need real leaders, courageous leaders who will place the national interest ahead of special interests. The members of the super committee as well as congressional leaders and the president must do just that. Pray for 'em!"
Click Here to read the full CNN op-ed.
"My Views" are works published by members of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, but they do not necessarily reflect the views of all members of the committee.