Transcript: Super Committee testimony by former Sen. Alan Simpson, Co-Chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform
“We don’t need charts when we go out. We don’t use PowerPoints. We just say if you spend more than you earn, you lose your buck,” said former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY), Co-Chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. “If you spend a buck and borrow 42 cents of it, you gotta be stupid. Now people do hear that – that’s a rather wretched thing to say. And then you say, today your country is borrowing 4 billion 600 million bucks, and we’ll borrow that tomorrow and the next day and the next day. If that has any common sense to the American people, then it certainly has escaped us.”
Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction Hearing: Overview of Previous Debt Proposals on Nov. 1, 2011
Transcript of Testimony by Former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY), Co-Chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform:
“Sen. Murray and Rep. Hensarling, it’s a pleasure to be here. I look at this panel and I, too, know many of you. But at this age, I’ve been around the track a while in this game and never worked with finer people than Erskine and Alice and Pete have been working two years.
“We don’t need charts when we go out. We don’t use PowerPoints. We just say if you spend more than you earn, you lose your buck. If you spend a buck and borrow 42 cents of it, you gotta be stupid. Now people do hear that – that’s a rather wretched thing to say. And then you say, today your country is borrowing 4 billion 600 million bucks, and we’ll borrow that tomorrow and the next day and the next day. If that has any common sense to the American people, then it certainly has escaped us.
“Now, my dad was a governor and U.S. senator. I know the game of inside baseball, and I know many of you well. As we wandered through this place a year ago, people came up and said, “Save us from ourselves.” That’s not a very smart thing to say in the duties you have to perform. So this is the toughest thing you have ever been in or ever will be in – without question – what you’re doing. You have my deepest admiration and respect – all of you. And you all know what you have to do. In your gut, you know what you have to do.
“So some will say, “Well, you and Erskine have nothing to lose. You’re not in the game.” Well, that’s true. But Dick Durbin and Tom Coburn had lot to lose – a couple of diverse ideological allies. They had something to lose, and they stepped right up to the plate and did it. They voted for our report. There were five Democrats, five Republicans, and one Independent.
“I used to take these people on when I was in the Congress. I did not do this suddenly. I’m the only living person that had a hearing on the AARP – they went goofy, absolutely ballistic. “Why did you have a hearing on us? We do great things.” Well, that’s enough of that.
“So anyway, I have dealt with professional veterans. I have dealt with extremists of the senior citizens. I have dealt with emotion, guilt, fear, racism. I did immigration, Social Security. I have done it all, and I’ve never lost an election. I dealt with Peter Rodino, a great Democrat, and Ron Mazzoli. We did things. I took on the professional veterans. I never heard of anything out of Lloyd Benson and Bob Dole and Dan Inouye when we did veterans stuff; it was always from some guy who’ve never done anything – never even been in the military.
Well, in immigration I was called a bigot and a racist, and yet that bill brought three million people out of the dark. I was very proud of that. But it never got very far because the right and the left said, “This is a national ID card. Hehehe.” That came from the right and the left.
“People admire guts and courage. They may fight you; they may vilify you; but they will admire you. I’ve been the toast of the town one day and toast the next. I’ve been on the A-list and the Z-list in this town when I was here. It’s a funny place. You’re on the cover of Time one month and six months later you’re doing it.
“Just a quick note about Grover Norquist. If Grover Norquist is now the most powerful man in America, he should run for president. There is no question about his power, and let me tell you, he has people enthrall. That’s a terrible phrase – Lincoln used it – means your mind has been captured; you’re in bondage with the soul. So here he is, I asked him and he said “My hero is Ronald Reagan.” Well, I said, “He raised taxes 11 times in his eight years.” He said, “I don’t know. I didn’t like that at all.” I said, “Well, he did it. Why do you suppose?” He said, “I don’t know. Very disappointing.” I said, “Probably did it to make the country run. Another sick idea.”
“And let’s just look at the AARP. Just this morning, I saw that ad. That is the most disgusting – the most disgusting ad – I’ve ever seen. I don’t know what the people who got paid, especially the actors, but I can tell you this, they’re well-paid. They said, “We’re 50 million and we’re watching you. We remember and we vote.” I’ll tell you, that is a really ugly thing. But let me tell you about the AARP. Let’s remember what they will be when they do nothing. We asked them what they would do to help. They said, “We have two things we’ll tell you,” and they never did. But let me tell you what will happen with their view of the world, which is to do nothing to restore the solvency of Social Security: In the year 2036, you’re going to waddle up to the window and get a check for 23% less, and then I hope that they will remember the AARP. I certainly will, and a lot of young people will too.
“So anyway, it’s a tough job and you’re going to have to do it. People out there are going to say, “Now, I have helped you for forever, and now I never asked you for a thing, but here we are.” That’s going to put a lot of heat.
“Well, the markets will call the shots from now on. Won’t need anything but that. Interest rates will go up, inflation will go up by the failure. And guess who gets hurt? The little guy. The vulnerable guy that everyone babbles about day and night will be the one hit with the hammer on the snozz.
“So remember the definition of politics: In politics, there are no right answers, only a continuous flow of compromises among groups resulting in a changing, cloudy and ambiguous series of public decisions where appetite and ambition compete openly with knowledge and wisdom. Thank you very much.”
- Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction’s website
- National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform’s website
- National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform: Final Report – The Moment of Truth (PDF)
- Written testimony submitted by former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY), Co-Chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (PDF)
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Super Committee co-chair Jeb Hensarling’s opening statement on previous debt proposals
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Super Committee co-chair Sen. Patty Murray’s opening statement on previous debt proposals
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Super Committee testimony by Erskine Bowles, Co-Chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Super Committee testimony by former Sen. Pete Domenici on deficit reduction
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Super Committee testimony by Dr. Alice Rivlin on reducing the deficit
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