Skip to comments.Alan Simpson on Obama’s Leadership (The former Senator is Perplexed at what he sees)
Posted on 08/11/2011 8:28:05 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
As a former senator who served under four different presidents, Alan Simpson (R., Wyo.) is perplexed at the way the current one has led since taking office in 2009. One thing thats puzzled me from the beginning of this administration is that, on every major piece of legislation, hes said, Let Congress decide, Simpson tells National Review Online. With every other administration in the past, whether it was Carter, Reagan, Bush, or Clinton, whenever they wanted to do something big, those of us in Congress would always say, Okay, wheres the White House bill? They always had a plan to show us.
Unfortunately, Simpson argues, President Obama has failed to adopt this approach, opting to let Congress take the lead on legislative matters, even those of paramount importance, such as health care, the federal budget, and most recently the debt ceiling. Ive never seen that done before, he says. Congress is never going to hammer out a sensible bill if they dont know what the White House is going to do with it.
Only House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), he points out, has had the gumption to step forward with a plan to slay the biggest mastodon in the kitchen by tackling the biggest driver of the national debt entitlement spending and face the inevitable howling, shrieking, moaning of the political class. The president will say that he has a plan, Simpson says. He gave a speech and said he wanted to cut $4 trillion, which is a minimal number, but then hes not going to touch Social Security and Medicare, for crying out loud. That just wont cut it.
We may, however, soon see an Obama plan (in concrete form) after all. I intend to present my own recommendations over the coming weeks on how we should proceed, the president said on Monday. Better late than never, Simpson says. But it wont be any good unless its specific. No more chicken dance. That goes for Congress as well.
Simpson, who served as co-chair on President Obamas deficit commission, laments that the recent debt-ceiling agreement didnt do enough, and, typically, avoids the really difficult choices that will have to be made eventually. Theyre not just kicking the can down the road, theyre kicking a 55-gallon drum down the road, he says. This thing has to be resolved on a long-term basis. Which is why Standard and Poors decision to downgrade the United States credit rating should come as no surprise. You cant add $2.3 trillion to a debt of $14.3 without a long-range plan to repay it, he says. The reason why ratings agencies dont downgrade our friends in Great Britain and Germany is because they have an actual plan.
As for the supercommittee that will be tasked over the next few months with finding at least $1.5 trillion in additional deficit reduction, Simpson says lawmakers would do well to consult with the Gang of Six comprising Sens. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.), Kent Conrad (D., N.D.), Mark Warner (D., Va.), Tom Coburn (R., Okla.), Mike Crapo (R., Idaho), and Saxby Chambliss (R., Ga.) in order to produce the largest possible package. But he knows all too well the challenges that lie ahead. Theyre going to get hammered from all sides, because theyre going to have to get specific, he says. They always say, Im ready to do something if everybody else will, but they know that everybody else wont.
That is why he suggests that Senate leaders appoint members of the Gang of Six to the committee theyve already taken plenty of heat for their own proposal, which is largely based on the work of the deficit commission. If the [new committee] does not have at least one, two, three members of the Gang of Six, I dont think theyre going to get anywhere, he says. Why not pick the guys who have already been picking through the wreckage?
He couldnt have been pleased when, just moments after we concluded our interview on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) announced his picks for the committee: Sens. Patty Murray (D., Wash.), Max Baucus (D., Mont.), and John Kerry (D., Mass.) none of them members of the Gang. And on Wednesday, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) announced the appointment of three nonGang members as well: Sens. Jon Kyl (R., Ariz), Rob Portman (R., Ohio), and Pat Toomey (R., Pa.). Additionally, the House Republican appointees included two members who served on the deficit commission Reps. Jeb Hensarling (R., Texas) and Dave Camp (R., Mich.) but who voted against the panels final recommendations.
As always, Simpson has some choice words for what he views to be the two primary obstacles to a grand bipartisan deal Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, and the AARP. He signals hope, however, that Norquists influence among Republican lawmakers is beginning to wane. He will be irrelevant in two years, Simpson predicts. I always ask [Republican members of Congress] what can Grover do to you? He wont murder you. He wont burn your house down. The only thing Grover can do to you is beat you in an election. And if thats the only thing he can do and youre still afraid, then you dont deserve to be here to begin with.
The same goes for the AARP and others who refuse to acknowledge the need for meaningful entitlement reform. If you cant figure out where these programs are going, youre off your rocker, he says. And contrary to what most Democrats like to argue, the new health-care law did nothing to improve their long-term outlook. You can call it Obamacare, or Elvis Presley care, or whatever you want to call it, it cant work. It cant sustain itself.
Simpson says the Tea Party has been a force in the deficit debate, but suggests their role is being over-hyped by the media. There are some very good people in the Tea Party, and there are just as many screwballs, lightweights, and boobs as there are in the Democratic and Republican parties, he says. They get all the play because the media is only interested in conflict, confusion, and so on.
Simpson continues to work with fellow deficit commission co-chair Erskine Bowles, former chief of staff to President Clinton, touting the commissions work and speaking frankly about the fiscal nightmare facing the country. We go around the country and we tell people we are not here to do bullsh** and we dont do mush, and we get standing ovations, Simpson says of their straight-talking style. He just hopes the American people send that message to Congress before its too late. If [Congress] is going to play that game, if the American people want to watch that mush, theyre going to pay the price.
And when it comes to members of Congress, he says, most are desperate for a way out of the mush. A lot of them come up and tell us save us from ourselves, he says. Theyre trapped. Theyre trapped in a web of reelection.
Its a trap theyll have to find their way out of, and soon, if future generations are to have any hope of inhabiting a country that resembles the one we know today. If every day you borrow $4.6 billion, youve got to be a little goofy. As they say, if your horse drops dead, you should probably get off, he says.
Andrew Stiles is a 2011 Franklin Fellow.
Among them -- Flattening tax rates, making corporate taxes competitive, and reforming our big three entitlements.
And what does Obama do after he receives their recommendation ( I believe just 70 pages long )?
He shelves it and NEVER TALKS ABOUT IT AT ALL, and acts as if it NEVER EXISTED.
That's the kind of leader this country is so unfortunate to have.
This is the guy who brought us the '86 amnesty.
This is just more proof that Simpson Babe is a stupid idiot. He is surprised by Obummers incompetence causing a problem? I thought it was the Conservatives that were the problem from listening to his past statements.
I am shocked that he did an interview with NR and didn’t save this for his buddy Chris Matthews.
a slow learner speaks out.
Alan Simpson on Obamas Leadership (The former Senator is
Perplexed Pole-Axed at what he sees)
I’m perplexed why this guy isn’t in a nursing home where he belongs.
He has always been afraid to get his opinion on record.
It's no surprise that he can't commit to a plan.
And what's with all the politicians saying the "BS" word lately?
I think Simpson id perplexed by pretty much anything he sees.
...which is EXACTLY why there is a "debt ceiling" in the first place! Yet the fact that it is raised so frequently proves that their cries to "save us from ourselves" is nothing but BS!
Simpson strikes me as the guy who hears a joke and laughs 15 minutes later.
I don’t care what this babbling idiot thinks about anything at all.
Nobody told Obama he won the last election for President, as he has been doing nothing but campaigning. Of course that is all he has done his entire life. He couldn’t lead water through a hose!
Only House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), he points out, has had the gumption to step forward with a plan to slay the biggest mastodon in the kitchen by tackling the biggest driver of the national debtI guess Ryan thought Boner's plan was better...that's the one he voted for.
Any one of us can come up with a plan...BFD.
WHAMO!!! Direct HIT!!!
C’mon. The House backed Ryan’s plan; the Senate just won’t call for a vote. It’s languishing on the table. Give Ryan some credit. He’s the only one talking a real plan. Be for it, or against it, or tell us why. Don’t dis the messenger.
This country is dead in the water and foundering fast. Paul Ryan is the ONLY one offering a life boat.
I think Alan Simpson would be perplexed by a Chinese finger trap.
Simpson says “What’s the president’s bill?” I thought bills were supposed to originate in the house.
This senile fool sure has been talking a lot lately.
It’s an interesting read. Lots unsaid between the lines.
Cmon. The House backed Ryans plan; the Senate just wont call for a vote. Its languishing on the table. Give Ryan some credit.Nope, no credit due. Not one more word was ever said about it from the Republicans OR Ryan... As I said, any one of us can come up with a plan.
They kept cowering to the democrats untill they came up with what the democrats wanted...The democrats got the plan they wanted by forcing the dimwit republicans without ever coming up with a plan themselves...and Ryan went along with them.
Hes the only one talking a real plan.Except he's not talking his plan to the leadership. He followed their lead on an already failed plan...Talk is cheap.
It's apologists, like you, who've enabled the Republicans to get us where we are.
Who knows? Maybe it passes.
Even if it doesn't, we get the RATs and RINOs on record as opposing it.
The BBA and jobs are all any Republican should focus on until the end of the session.