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Bowles, Simpson Challenge Super Committee to 'Go Big' with Deficit Reduction

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, the co-chairs of last year’s Fiscal Commission, challenged the Super Committee to “Go Big” and surpass its $1.5-trillion deficit reduction goal.
“As you begin your important work to reach a deficit reduction agreement, we urge you to ‘go big’ and develop a large-scale debt reduction package sufficient to stabilize the debt as a share of the economy,” a letter from Bowles, Simpson and over 60 other business experts to the Super Committee reads.
“We believe that a 'go big' approach that goes well beyond the $1.5-trillion deficit reduction goal that the Committee has been charged with and includes major reforms of entitlement programs and the tax code is necessary to bring the debt down to a manageable and sustainable level, improve the long-term fiscal imbalance, reassure markets, and restore Americans’ faith in the political system.”
Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming, called the Super Committee’s $1.5-trillion goal “peanuts” compared to what’s actually needed to effectively reduce the deficit.  Last year, the Fiscal Commission developed a plan to reduce the federal deficit by $4 trillion in 10 years, but it failed to obtain the supermajority votes needed to pass.
The commission’s proposal contained bold initiatives such as raising the eligibility age to receive Social Security to 69, increasing the gas tax by 15 cents a gallon, making cuts to Medicare and slashing tax rates for corporations and the wealthiest in the country.
“When we put this out, they laughed. They all sat around and chuckled and said -- Boy these guys are goofy and came up with something here that can’t possibly work,” Simpson said.
“The $4 trillion number that Al brought up is not a number that we’ve made up.  I’ve said often that we didn’t get to that number by a number four bus passing us on the street,” Bowles, who served as President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, said.  “Four trillion is not the maximum amount we need to do.  It’s not ideal amount.  It is the minimum amount we need to do is stabilize the debt.”
Bowles and Simpson warned the Super Committee must exhaust all options when determining where to make cuts in spending because the luxury of time has run out.
“We don’t have that luxury anymore.  We need to act and we need to act now.  We need to do this to reassure the markets,” Bowles said.  “Everything’s on the table, and for us to reach this grand bargain everything must be on the table if we’re really going to address our long-term fiscal problems.”
“We’re here to talk to you,” Simpson said. “We don’t do B.S., and we don’t do mush, and if you’re looking for B.S. and mush just watch every congressperson who talks about cutting the deficit and telling you nothing about how to do it.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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