Video: Bowles, Simpson scoff at 1.6% budget cuts

posted at 2:15 pm on March 7, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

CNN interviews Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles on the budget debate taking place in Washington between Republicans who want to cut 1.6% of the budget in FY2011 and Democrats who want to cut no more than 0.28% of the budget. Both chairs of Barack Obama’s deficit commission scoff at the entire debate, pointing out that neither cuts would amount to a hill of beans in controlling the spiraling debt of the United States. Simpson and Bowles emphasize that the debate has to shift from discretionary spending to entitlement reform, and that certain established interests (cough-cough-AARP-cough) are doing their best to stop that process:

Simpson blasts the AARP in particular in this interview.  He notes that the AARP has claimed to have presented suggestions for improving the entitlement crisis, but that in reality, “They have suggested nothing.”  Simpson warns that Social Security is a particular indicator of seriousness, and that if Congress and the White House can’t bring themselves to address that, then Medicare and Medicaid will be a lost cause.

However, they’re missing the point somewhat, too.  The FY2011 budget has to be finalized, thanks to Democratic pusillanimity in the 111th Congress.  Since it will take months to pursue the statutory changes necessary to begin reforms of entitlement programs, the House and Senate can only cut within current law for the remainder of this fiscal year.  That means focusing on discretionary spending in the short term simply because they can’t do anything about entitlement spending in a budget that has to pass in two weeks.  Also, it’s worth pointing out that at least some people in the Beltway are talking about entitlement reform.  Paul Ryan has pledged to have significant entitlement reform changes in the FY2012 budget.

Otherwise, though, their point is well taken.  Democrats in Congress are screeching about having to reduce spending any lower than 99.72% of current levels.  That doesn’t bode well for serious discussions of entitlement reform.


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I don’t think the Dems are going to have any choice but to eat bigger cuts in the next CR…

The Washington Times is reporting that the government ran a $228 BILLION deficit in February, which is the largest single-month deficit in history and about $60 million larger than Bush’s deficit for the entire FY 2007.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/mar/7/government-posts-biggest-monthly-deficit-ever/

teke184 on March 7, 2011 at 2:23 PM

Eh, kick the can down the road a few more times so the current politicians can stay in office long enough to qualify for the full pension plan; my kids don’t mind being saddled with a few thousand in extra personal debt.

Bishop on March 7, 2011 at 2:23 PM

Gosh, I thought Scooter appointed them to co-chair the commission. Why in the world would he then not take their advice?

a capella on March 7, 2011 at 2:24 PM

I really don’t understand why the Republicans just didn’t take up the “bipartisan” proposal considering how lame the Republican proposal is.

ninjapirate on March 7, 2011 at 2:24 PM

Gosh, I thought Scooter appointed them to co-chair the commission. Why in the world would he then not take their advice?

a capella on March 7, 2011 at 2:24 PM

He takes no one’s advice except if their names are Soros or Trumpka.

Knucklehead on March 7, 2011 at 2:26 PM

Here’s a good look at the proposed spending cuts from Cato.

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/03/028535.php

NoNails on March 7, 2011 at 2:28 PM

America. WAKE UP! You can’t have your cake and eat it too!

jawkneemusic on March 7, 2011 at 2:34 PM

CNN interviews Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles on the budget debate taking place in Washington between Republicans who want to cut 1.6% of the budget in FY2011 and Democrats who want to cut no more than 0.28% of the budget.

So Obama’s deficit commission is far more serious than the GOP and certainly more serious than the joker in the White House.

The GOP has absolutely no intention of cutting anything of substance.

sharrukin on March 7, 2011 at 2:35 PM

We need to reduce government spending by 30% – arguing about fractions of a percent more than a waste of time, they are insulting.

Vashta.Nerada on March 7, 2011 at 2:36 PM

Unless the GOP’s 2012 nominee adopts a plain-spoken approach to entitlement cuts and emulates the tone of Chris Christie & Scott Walker, the GOP will shrivel & die like the Whig Party did. If that happens, the Socialist Democrat Party will rule essentially unopposed for a decade or more. Goodbye, Republic.

OhioCoastie on March 7, 2011 at 2:37 PM

The deficit for the entire year of 2007 was 121 billion; the deficit for one month alone in 2011 is 223 billion.

We are being destroyed from within.. No denying this.

Keemo on March 7, 2011 at 2:37 PM

Let it crash.
No one has the ba!!s to really make cuts in these welfare AKA entitlement programs.
The economy will have to crash really hard to make anything meaningful happen.
Too many people refuse to have any of their gravy cut.
Here’s some info I’ll pass on to you that will pi$$ you off.
I know of a farmer who farms my bro in law’s land.
Last year he planted sunflowers & the years before that, wheat.
For the last 3-4 years that land has produced NOTHING worth the cost of putting the crop in.
So I ask you, how is this farmer able to constantly farm & fail?
Well this year he is going to plant corn.
Bcs the govt is basically gauranteeing $600/ACRE to just plant the stuff. Only plant it.
Doesn’t matter if it grows or not.
This guy is going to get $600/acre to plant corn on ground that shouldn’t be growing anything but grass.
That’s the govt for ya.

Badger40 on March 7, 2011 at 2:38 PM

The Washington Times is reporting that the government ran a $228 BILLION deficit in February, which is the largest single-month deficit in history and about $60 million larger than Bush’s deficit for the entire FY 2007.

teke184 on March 7, 2011 at 2:23 PM

You realize if you prorate that over the course of a year, that comes out to a 2.736 TRILLION DOLLAR DEFICIT!!! A deficit half that size is what we’ve been talking about all this time and freaking out over. $2.736 trillion?!

Doughboy on March 7, 2011 at 2:39 PM

Alan Simpson has a history of folding like an accordion. He headed the Immigration subcommittee in the 1980s and crafted the act that granted amnesty to 3 million illegals with the assurance the border would be secured. The Democrats kept up their end, Simpson didn’t.

If he wasn’t a squish, Obama wouldn’t have chosen him.

bw222 on March 7, 2011 at 2:39 PM

So many Americans want the dirty work done, but NOT when it affect them personally.

Either we pull together, and accept the reality, or….well there is no or. We need to support those in Congress willing to do what needs to be done here. Because like it or not, we are going to lose, and lose big if nothing is done.

This is just what happens though, when we create an entitlement loving society.

capejasmine on March 7, 2011 at 2:44 PM

You realize if you prorate that over the course of a year, that comes out to a 2.736 TRILLION DOLLAR DEFICIT!!! A deficit half that size is what we’ve been talking about all this time and freaking out over. $2.736 trillion?!

Doughboy on March 7, 2011 at 2:39 PM

Your numbers are off and it’s even worse. It’s actually a $2.972 Trillion deficit.

($228b / 28 days) * 365 days = $2,972,142,857,142 deficit

teke184 on March 7, 2011 at 2:44 PM

As CP30 said, “we are doomed.”

Old Fritz on March 7, 2011 at 2:47 PM

a capella on March 7, 2011 at 2:24 PM

Because it was never about doing anything anyway. It was simply a delaying tactic and a way to give the Dems a talking point: “We have to wait until the Presidents deficit commission makes its recommendations…”

By the time they did no one cared, the Dems got the time they needed so they simply ignore the advice by simply saying they can’t enact such reforms right now and other pablum.

catmman on March 7, 2011 at 2:47 PM

Your numbers are off and it’s even worse. It’s actually a $2.972 Trillion deficit.

($228b / 28 days) * 365 days = $2,972,142,857,142 deficit

teke184 on March 7, 2011 at 2:44 PM

Good point. I’d forgotten about February being a short month. Forgive me for giving the Obama administration too much leeway there.

BTW, a 2.972 trillion dollar deficit is greater than the entire freaking federal budget before the Dems took over Congress in 2007. And remember, everyone(including them) was saying that Bush and the GOP were spending too much.

Doughboy on March 7, 2011 at 2:48 PM

Democrats who want to cut no more than 0.28% of the budget.

Clearly, they have no interest in solving this problem.

One can only conclude that they want to use this serious crisis as leverage to spread the wealth around.

Talk to Leftists face to face and they will act as if this is not an issue.

The clear implication is that we can take it of the rich man’s hide.

Chip on March 7, 2011 at 2:48 PM

Use E-verify to get rid of all the illegals sponging on welfare, housing, food stamps, medicaid. Then you start bringing in able bodied people who have been on the dole their entire lives and drug test them. They pop positive, they’re off the dole.

That’d shave several billion off the top not to mention relief to the individual states that carry these burdens.

Key West Reader on March 7, 2011 at 2:48 PM

Long story short:

We are boned.

Rebar on March 7, 2011 at 2:50 PM

So, we are going to rob from old people to pay for the Dem’s $1 trillion spending spree (Stimulus)?

faraway on March 7, 2011 at 2:52 PM

Gosh, I thought Scooter appointed them to co-chair the commission. Why in the world would he then not take their advice?

a capella on March 7, 2011 at 2:24 PM

The speculation at the time was that the commission was created to give Obama and the Dems(and even a few squishy Republicans) cover for voting in favor of tax increases. Of course when the time came, said tax increases needed to be accompanied by spending cuts and entitlement reforms which no Democrat wanted to touch. So obviously with the Dems not wanting to just vote for tax increases(as that would make 2012 an even worse bloodbath than 2010), they simply scrapped the whole thing.

Doughboy on March 7, 2011 at 2:53 PM

BTW, a 2.972 trillion dollar deficit is greater than the entire freaking federal budget before the Dems took over Congress in 2007. And remember, everyone(including them) was saying that Bush and the GOP were spending too much.

Doughboy on March 7, 2011 at 2:48 PM

And they are arguing about million dollar cuts. I have been helping some people do their taxes, and from that experience it is breathtaking. The feds can’t even get the forms correct, the rates and deductions seem random, and the effective taxes are bizarre. Depending upon the vagaries of life, people with the same gross income can have an effective tax rate of 7% or 27%. That along with all of the congressional retirements and it looks like the system is collapsing.

Vashta.Nerada on March 7, 2011 at 2:54 PM

Long story short:

We are boned.

Rebar on March 7, 2011 at 2:50 PM

That’s interesting — payroll taxes are bringing in about as much as the income tax.

Count to 10 on March 7, 2011 at 2:54 PM

like i said before…the US is in reactive mode not proactive mode….we literally have to reach rock bottom before someone has a clue in DC….

cmsinaz on March 7, 2011 at 2:56 PM

Depending upon the vagaries of life, people with the same gross income can have an effective tax rate of 7% or 27%.

Vashta.Nerada on March 7, 2011 at 2:54 PM

A fair tax would solve that problem. Even if it meant I had to pay more every year since I couldn’t deduct 10,000 things on my tax return, I’d be more than happy to pay my “fair share”.

Doughboy on March 7, 2011 at 2:56 PM

That’s interesting — payroll taxes are bringing in about as much as the income tax.

Count to 10 on March 7, 2011 at 2:54 PM

They have for several years (2011 will be an exception due to the temporary cut), which is why I don’t like the flat tax or fair tax proposals which propose tax rates above 15%.

Vashta.Nerada on March 7, 2011 at 2:57 PM

Not to hear Chuck U Schumer and Dick Turban talk about it. They act like it’s the end of the world for women, poor, children, blacks, native Americans, glbt everywhere. Oh, education, too. AARP is looking out for AARP. The cuts to SS are for the bureaucracy managing it, not the amount in the cks sent to seniors.

Kissmygrits on March 7, 2011 at 3:11 PM

Is it my imagination, or has Simpson become an income redistributor?

Mr. Grump on March 7, 2011 at 3:22 PM

Dems philosophy on cutting government spending:

“No! Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine!”
*stamping feet*

iurockhead on March 7, 2011 at 3:51 PM

I refuse to join AARP because of their intransigence on the entitlements problem, and also because they supported Obamacare.

Ward Cleaver on March 7, 2011 at 4:03 PM

With deficits and debt so high, it’s time Congress started thinking out of the box. Many of these ‘essential’ services of the social marketplace need to taken out of the politicians hands and farmed out to the private sector as NGOs (non-government organizations) that sink or swim according to the whims of the public and taxpayer donations (as either full tax credit or tax deductions).

For example, let Planned Parenthood and PBS go the NGO route. If there were a box for taxpayers to click to send x% of their $$$ to Planned Parenthood, it might get as much or more funding than it currently does. Ditto for Head Start, or even the Education Department as a whole. The list could be include most anything except perhaps the Military and interest on the debt. Let taxpayers make the tough decisions about what programs get funding and which don’t. It won’t take long for the various duplications and overlaps in the various social marketplaces to consolidate and become sensitive and responsive to the needs of society, not the needs of politicians to buy votes with other people’s money.

What’s needed isn’t more top down dictates from Congress on the Hill. What’s needed is a clear and simple process for devolving away from the bankrupt centralized system that politicians have created in the process of buying votes with other people’s money.

drfredc on March 7, 2011 at 4:08 PM

GOP don’t want to make cuts …

1. Boehner passes a budget with $61B in cuts – but this is FAR LESS than the $100B he promised. No problem – he uses some creative math to also “claim” that they cut additional $40B in the Lame Duck session. Remember that cut? No? Well – that’s because that’s a totally made up number. Still – it didn’t stop Boehner from “claiming” the GOP was making $101B in cuts this year!

2. Democrats agree to cut $6B from this year’s budget – then claim they are meeting the GOP exactly half way. What planet in this universe are they on? Why – the same one with John Boehner, because if you take $6B in cuts and add that to the same $40B that Boehner “claims” they cut in the Lame Duck – then you get close to $50B in Democratic proposed cuts.

I am NOT kidding you – this is what they’re doing – and BOTH SIDES are playing this damn game of lies on the American public.

But wait – it gets better!

Because yesterday, LOSER Mitch McConnell goes on the Sunday shows to say … “Obama is not serious about cuts”. Translation … “The GOP won’t be making any cuts this year – and I need to blame that fact on Barack Obama”.

Hey Mitch – how about this – you guys propose the damn cuts and let the Dims stop them you douchebag.

HondaV65 on March 7, 2011 at 4:10 PM