On Friday September 14 Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles sat down for an interview on economic policy with Meet The Press host David Gregory. Simpson and Bowles were the co-chairs of President Obama's fiscal responsibility commission, as well as being the co-authors of the well-known Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan.
During the interview, the two men, one a former GOP Senator and the other a former White House Chief of Staff during the Clinton administration, discussed what they believe to be the least economically harmful path towards avoiding a U.S. debt-crisis.
The two men explained their plan, which calls for $3 trillion in budget cuts over ten years, as well as a non-revenue neutral plan to remove complexities and deductions in the tax code. When Gregory asked why the plan was not considered more seriously by the President and congress, they explained the political obstacles.
The entitlement reforms proposed by the plan worry Democrats. The cuts to social programs, not only carry ideological weight, but cutting such programs could easily make future campaigns more difficult. The absence of revenue neutrality, the reductions in military spending, and $3 trillion in budget cuts worry republicans, who have seemingly come to a consensus that $3 trillion is not enough, that the U.S. can't afford to spare any expense when it comes to defense, and that deficit reduction should be revenue neutral.
When asked about the growing demand among republicans for much deeper cuts and no revenue, former Sen. Simpson had some tough words for his former party. "If they don't begin to deal honestly without the hysteria, emotions, fear, guilt, and rage... they will be a party that won't make it through."
He then went on to summarize by saying "you can't get there by taxing, and you can't get there by cutting. You need a balanced approach. The word compromise does not mean you're a wimp."
The views expressed by the former Senator likely resonate with a lot of people, given that despite high unemployment, low job approval, and an anemic recovery, President Obama and Gov. Romney are within most polls' margins of error. This indicates that while people desire an alternative to Obama, the path presented by Romney and his peers in the GOP are similarly unattractive.