Alan Simpson

He’ll give Republicans everything they want.

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Earlier today I wondered what Ron Suskind's forthcoming book, Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President, would have to say about White House chief of staff (and scapegoat du jour) Bill Daley. One thing it says, I have since learned, is that in September 2008, as polls were starting to show that Obama was the likely winner, a meeting was called with three former Clinton chiefs of staff: John Podesta (who would later be Obama's transition chief), Leon Panetta (now defense secretary) and Erskine Bowles (later co-chairman, with former Sen.

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Okay, so the bipartisan commission led by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson failed to come up with a mutually acceptable deficit reduction plan. This lead to the creation of the Gang of Six to give it another try, which also failed, because House Republicans won't accept any increase in revenue. This led to a deal to create yet another bipartisan commission -- the supercommission! -- which must cut the deficit or else trigger automatic cuts. But the supercommission is expected to deadlock as well for the same reason. It's pretty obvious what the situation calls for, isn't it?

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President Obama on Tuesday reiterated his insistence that Republicans agree to a “balanced” deficit reduction package that includes both spending cuts and new taxes. It was good to hear Obama make that argument again and, better still, to hear him make it so emphatically. But what exactly does he mean? Recent reports suggest that the administration would agree to a deal including about $2 trillion in reduced spending and about $400 billion in increased revenue.

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I always find interviews with Alan Simpson entertaining and this one is no exception: In fact, the former senator questions the basic concept of the ATR Pledge, which lawmakers are encouraged to sign before they take office. It amounts to “bondage of the mind,” he says. “Who would sign anything before coming to office before reviewing the facts, conditions, and situation?” asks Simpson. “Why would anyone — on any hot issue you can imagine — lock themselves into a position?” Then there is the AARP, an organization Simpson slams for rigidly opposing necessary changes to entitlements.

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Alan Simpson has been arguing that longer life expectancy since 1935 requires a fundamental rethinking of Social Security. Ryan Grim gets Simpson on the phone and tries to explain the statistics to him. Hilarity ensues: HuffPost suggested to Simpson during a telephone interview that his claim about life expectancy was misleading because his data include people who died in childhood of diseases that are now largely preventable.

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President Obama's big speech on the federal budget comes tomorrow. And during that speech, according to the Washington Post, Obama will be "promoting a bipartisan approach pioneered by an independent presidential commission." The commission is the one led by Erskin Bowles and Alan Simpson. The news that Obama might use tomorrow's event to promote their work is a worrisome sign. To be clear, the Post story doesn't say how specific or meaningful Obama's embrace of Bowles-Simpson will be.

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Share the Wealth

A serious conversation about managing the federal budget is under way. And that’s a good thing. Federal spending is growing faster than federal revenue. Absent changes in the law, future generations of Americans will likely have to raise taxes to unprecedented levels, dramatically reduce the reach of government programs, risk the macroeconomic consequences of uncontrolled debt, or some combination of all three. At best, these options are unappealing. At worst, they are a threat to prosperity. But the fiscal conversation is unfolding in an unfortunate manner.

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Naftali Bendavid reports that a bipartisan debt reduction plan is picking up steam in the Senate.

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I have a hard time believing Alan Simpson wasn't playing this up for laughs. Then again, it's Alan Simpson.... The co-chairman of President Obama’s deficit commission tried to scold the elderly on Monday for complaining about their Social Security funds being targeted, but instead he found himself making a reference to “Snoopy Snoopy Poop Dogg.” “This is a fakery,” Simpson said on Fox News.

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