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Alan Simpson Strikes Back
National Review ^ | 6/22/2011 | Andrew Stiles

Posted on 06/22/2011 12:33:29 PM PDT by Servant of the Cross

Former senator and fiscal-commission co-chair Alan Simpson (R., Wyo.) often speaks as if he’d been plucked from the stage of one of Harry Reid’s beloved cowboy-poetry festivals. And he certainly has some choice words for those he thinks are impeding the prospects for a deal on deficit reduction.

He calls Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, “off his rocker.” He describes the AARP as a brick wall standing in the way of desperately needed entitlement reform, and blasts its leaders as a bunch of wealthy, self-aggrandizing lobbyists who pretend to speak for average Americans. “We’re not talking about some wandering sisters of mercy here,” he tells National Review Online.

However, Simpson remains cautiously optimistic that the United States may yet avoid a debt crisis. He applauds Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.), a member of the fiscal commission, for his “principled stand” against Norquist’s rigid interpretation of the ATR “Taxpayer Protection Pledge.” The two have been at odds since Coburn voted to support the commission’s final plan, which Norquist describes as a “massive tax hike.” Their feud came to another head last week, when 34 Republicans including Coburn voted to eliminate the much-maligned ethanol tax credit. Because the measure did not include any offsetting tax cuts, Norquist denounced it as a tax increase according to the Pledge.

There are roughly $1.1 trillion worth of “tax expenditures” in the current tax code, Simpson points out, most of which are enjoyed exclusively by high-income earners. He questions the sanity of those who defend these special tax credits. “If you’re joining together to get rid of tax expenditures, you’re doing the right thing for the country,” he says.

Simpson recalls a conversation he once had with Norquist in which the ATR president named Ronald Reagan as his personal hero. “I told him, ‘Grover, Reagan raised taxes eleven times. That was your hero?’” Simpson says. “He must have been very disappointed.”

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. “All they do is slap us around with a stick in their magazine,” he says. “If you can’t raise the retirement age to 68 by 2050 — for crying out loud — who are you? You must be a boob if you can’t figure out that life expectancy is 78.”

It is precisely this mentality that was responsible for the way House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) was “savaged” for his effort to substantially reform (and thereby save) Medicare, on which “everything depends” when it comes to the country’s long-term debt problem. In doing so, Simpson argues, Ryan set himself apart as a man among children on the field of fiscal seriousness. “If you’re going to attack the mastodon in the kitchen, that’s Medicare,” he says. “That’s exactly what he did, and they served him a rich ration of hell. In the years that go by, we’ll look back and see the only guy who had the guts to nail the mastodon was Paul Ryan.”

Certainly not President Obama, who decided to “nail Ryan to the post” in an April 13 speech at George Washington University to outline his own “framework” to address the deficit. “I don’t think that’s going to sell,” he says. “You don’t praise and talk about bipartisanship and then just hammer Republicans flat.”

In particular, Simpson did not care for the president’s sermonizing about the need to protect the “poor and vulnerable” members of society. “That made me blow my cork,” he says. “What do you think our plan did?” Indeed, Obama hasn’t exactly embraced the final plan put forward by his own bipartisan fiscal commission, beyond acknowledging that it is “on the table.”

Senate Democrats, meanwhile, have gone nearly 800 days without passing a budget. Simpson understands their reluctance to release a plan of their own. “Everybody’s under the cannon,” he says. “Why the hell would you throw something out there to get torn to bits?” He predicts that Senate Budget Committee chairman Kent Conrad (D., N.D.) will unveil a “hell of a good plan” when the time comes. “He’s got a lot of courage,” he says of Conrad.

While some have criticized the private, closed-doors nature of the ongoing debt negotiations and argued that lawmakers should follow a traditional process that is open to the public eye, Simpson firmly disagrees. “Everyone ought to be thankful for that, because it means they might be getting something done,” he says. “Even the Founding Fathers met in private — not secret — and if our commission hadn’t done that, we never would have had a deal.”

He sees the fact that negotiators are refusing to speak to the press in significant detail as a sign that progress is being made, which in turn fuels his optimism that a solution is in reach. “I know we’re going to have a deal,” he says. “Something good or better than where we are will happen.”

At this point, almost any long-term proposal would be an improvement on the status quo. “If we can just have a plan,” he says. “We don’t even have to put pieces in it yet. The reason that countries like Germany and Great Britain and France aren’t being told by rating agencies that they’re going to have to be downgraded is because they all have a plan.”

Whatever the final package looks like, it will be difficult for large majorities in both parties to accept — but they will have to do so. The eleven members of the deficit commission who supported its plan, for example, “almost barfed” before casting their votes, he says.

Either way, Simpson has considerably less at stake personally than most Americans. “I’ll be 80 in the fall, and it’s your generation and your children and grandchildren who are on the hook, who’ll be picking grit with the chickens,” says Simpson. “If Joe Biden [who is negotiating with congressional leaders on a budget deal] can’t get it done, it won’t get done. If not, hang on for a chaotic time.”

“This not about ping-pong or secret meetings and all that crap. This is dead serious. I really mean it when I say pray for Joe Biden.”


TOPICS: Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: budget; fiscal; norquist; simpson
Not everything in the article is good. Alan Simpson is still a Democrat, even at 80 when he should know better. But he reminds me a little of the "last good Democrat" - Zell Miller.

Any democrat who rips the poseur 0bama, AARP and Norquist in the same article that he praises Ryan and Coburn can't be all bad.

1 posted on 06/22/2011 12:33:35 PM PDT by Servant of the Cross
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To: Servant of the Cross

I thought Simpson was Republican?


2 posted on 06/22/2011 12:43:33 PM PDT by A_Former_Democrat (EX Congressman Anthony Weiner: "Celebrate 'Perversity'")
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To: Servant of the Cross
Simpson has always been a RINO, which is why he is always picked to represent the Republican side when democrats want need a “republican” voice on some blue ribbon commission. However, unlike other RINO’s he seems to have the ability to mask it with folksy talk and an “ahh shucks” attitude which seems to give him a pass with most conservatives.
3 posted on 06/22/2011 12:46:22 PM PDT by apillar
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To: Servant of the Cross

Well, Alan Simpson made a career of being in govt. He is part of the problem. If he really wanted to be a solution maker, he should have done so a long time ago.


4 posted on 06/22/2011 12:46:38 PM PDT by Parmy
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To: Servant of the Cross

Simpson has always been a RINO, which is why he is always picked to represent the Republican side when democrats want a “republican” voice on some blue ribbon commission. However, unlike other RINO’s he seems to have the ability to mask it with folksy talk and an “ahh shucks” attitude which seems to give him a pass with most conservatives.


5 posted on 06/22/2011 12:46:42 PM PDT by apillar
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To: apillar

Screw Simpson.....Alan, just fade the hell away and STFU!


6 posted on 06/22/2011 12:48:01 PM PDT by Gaffer
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To: Servant of the Cross
Well, Alan Simpson make a career of being in govt. He has been part of the problem all of his life and not a solution maker.

I could be wrong, but I think he was in Congress some where when govt. went to base line accounting.

7 posted on 06/22/2011 12:48:42 PM PDT by Parmy
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To: Parmy

Old “aw shucks” Simpson uses the government favorite tweet “tax expenditures” in making his argument. Tax expenditures mean the government owns you and anything they let you keep of what you earn is a tax expenditure. Idiots like Simpson should just go away.


8 posted on 06/22/2011 12:53:53 PM PDT by Goreknowshowtocheat
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To: Servant of the Cross

? Simpson is a Republican

As to who the good guy is and who is wearing the black hat...I cant tell anymore


9 posted on 06/22/2011 12:58:43 PM PDT by woofie
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To: Servant of the Cross

Simpson is a lifelong chickensh!t of the Joe Scarborough or Charlie Crist variety (or Schwarzenegger, et al. ad nauseum) who is always most comfortable and boldly swaggering when he is flailing away at Republican straw men in precisely the fashion that the media will greet with full approval.

He has never taken a “courageous” or “independent” stand that flew in the face of media/leftwing operatives.

Where, for instance, was his great bravery and vision when it came to Obamacare and his stupid Balanced Budget Commission recommendations? Nowhere, that’s where. They didn’t oppose it, didn’t tweak it, DIDN’T MENTION IT.

The guy is a coward and a scoundrel...man, he p!sses me off....


10 posted on 06/22/2011 1:01:01 PM PDT by Fightin Whitey
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To: A_Former_Democrat

oops.


11 posted on 06/22/2011 1:02:02 PM PDT by Servant of the Cross (the Truth will set you free!)
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To: Servant of the Cross

Paul Ryan, the one with the cojones to take it to them. Good to hear at least some are on his side. AARP can go to hell. They’ve got to be losing members at this point. I can’t wait until they are put put of business. Among my 50-something friends, no one has joined. And several folks that are older have cancelled their memberships. That’s one trend I’d like to see continue.


12 posted on 06/22/2011 1:05:38 PM PDT by SueRae (I can see November 2012 from my HOUSE!!!!!!!!)
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To: Servant of the Cross

He’s fallen off his rocker and he can’t get up.


13 posted on 06/22/2011 1:19:34 PM PDT by SaraJohnson
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To: Servant of the Cross

Sen. Simpson seems to spend an inordinate amount of time tracking down bloggers and forum posters who criticize him on the web and then sending them long scathing emails telling them how wrong they are and that he is really a wonderful guy.

I know someone who got one of these and it was truly, truly bizarre.


14 posted on 06/22/2011 1:39:29 PM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: Servant of the Cross
FTA:

“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?”

I guess the concept of "principles" just fails the political reality test where the linguini-spined live.

15 posted on 06/22/2011 1:42:40 PM PDT by T-Bird45 (It feels like the seventies, and it shouldn't.)
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To: Servant of the Cross

Alan Simpson is a Republican, for about the last 80 years!


16 posted on 06/22/2011 2:02:36 PM PDT by pgkdan (Time for a Cain Mutiny!)
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To: Buckeye McFrog
My enduring memory of Alan Simpson comes from my family's USA tour in 1991. He was in the Senate then. We were in Cody, WY, Simposn's home town, on July 4th, and we watched the parade they had. Simpson was riding in some car deep in the parade. Kennedy never would have been back there.

ML/NJ

17 posted on 06/22/2011 2:06:45 PM PDT by ml/nj
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To: Servant of the Cross

Simpson is and was a self-aggrandizing, egotistical camera hog, in love with the sound of his own voice. Add that to his RINO pedigree and he should really fade away like the old sell-out he is.


18 posted on 06/22/2011 2:06:56 PM PDT by Oldpuppymax
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To: A_Former_Democrat
I thought Simpson was Republican?

He was/is/still might be (in name only). Simpson's strong point always was that he had a sense of humor, not that his politics were right.

The old sh!t spent years and years in the senate helping generate the mess we are in now, and thinks he has a good idea to recover ... when pigs can whistle.

I fear that, unless new thinking arrives soon, the only out will be after total collapse.

19 posted on 06/22/2011 2:18:47 PM PDT by RobinOfKingston (The instinct toward liberalism is located in the part of the brain called the rectal lobe.)
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To: pgkdan

“Alan Simpson is a Republican, for about the last 80 years!”

Simpson was RINO his entire political career. After retiring he admitted he found it disgusting that Wyoming voters cared about gun rights and little else.


20 posted on 06/22/2011 2:34:16 PM PDT by Sea Parrot
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To: Servant of the Cross

He got ONE thing right:

“describes the AARP as a brick wall standing in the way of desperately needed entitlement reform, and blasts its leaders as a bunch of wealthy, self-aggrandizing lobbyists who pretend to speak for average Americans.”


21 posted on 06/22/2011 2:44:32 PM PDT by radioone
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