Transcript: Alan Simpson supports eliminating tax expenditures to avert ‘fiscal cliff’

Transcribed & edited by Jenny Jiang

Transcript of remarks by former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wy.), co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, on the fiscal cliff at the Christian Science Monitor breakfast on Nov. 28, 2012:

Let me just say – what I have been fascinated by – when this report came out, the laughter that came out of Washington was almost deafening. “Ho, ho, what the hell are these guys doing talking about revenue, they’re talking about spending cuts.”

Let me tell you, we sat in that room for 7 months, and we come out of there with 5 Democrats, 5 Republicans, 1 Independent – a range from Dick Durbin to Tom Coburn and 1 Independent. And if you don’t think that that was tough to get a range like that, you just don’t know anything about meetings or conferences or commitments. But that’s what we got.

I remember across the street was the National Association of Realtors or whatever they are. I live with a Realtor; she’s not doing that anymore but she’s a good lobbyist – I would say, she’s tremendous. And they just chuckled. They said, “Home mortgage interest deductions? You guys are stupid. You’re going to get rid of it.”  I said, “Really?” We don’t get rid of it. We said, “Take it from a million bucks down to $500,000 and give everybody else a 12.5% refundable tax credit, which helps the little guy that everybody talks about all day, all night around this village.”

Everything we did is set this new rate, get rid of these tax expenditures. Just remember that these tax expenditures that 20% of the American people use 80% of. Guess who’s using them? The guy that gets the best lobbyists, the guy that got the best deal, and they went in and cut the deal… Only 27% of the American people itemize, which means three-fourth of the American people never heard of these things in the tax code which takes $1.1 trillion and suck right out of the economy.

Somebody is always saying – some economist – we need a stimulus. Well, what the hell do you think a $1.1 trillion deficit is? Unless your brain is vacated, that’s what that is.

So we looked at all of it, listened to the chatter, and we said, “Once people wake up as to what’s really coming, they’re going to savage us and they’re going to savage the Commission. And boy, don’t think that these interest groups are pouring it out right now.”

So tough to tell people what’s going on when you have a presidential debate and a vice presidential and during the course of that no one asked anybody what they’re going to do about the long-term solvency of Social Security for 75 years.

And there isn’t a person in this room that doesn’t know how to read the trustee’s report to say that if you do nothing, which is the glorious recommendation of the AARP and other senior groups, that in the year 2031, you’re going to want to look to the window and get a check for 25% less. Who is goofy enough to let that happen? Plenty of people are goofy enough to let that happen.

And you never heard a single question – what are you going to do with a $16 trillion debt as President of the United States?

Two questions that I thought were rather significant but were never asked…

Anyway, Social Security has to be dealt with on its own level by its own [incomprehensible audio]…It isn’t part of solving the deficit by hitting Social Security and hurting seniors. It sits by its side. Or whether it sits by its side or doesn’t sit by its side, you have to restore solvency.

And finally, it seems to be me and my goofy attitude about life around here that the sad part – when you have leaders of both parties throwing out, casting out into the water, the bait for the trout that says, “Maybe it will help the Democrats if we go off the cliff.” And the other side, “Maybe it will help the Republicans if we go off the cliff.”

Well, I’ll tell you ladies and gentlemen that’s like betting your country, and anybody that has that attitude of a party above America – that’s the corny part for me – then is really missing the boat. And any government representative that doesn’t realize he or she is an American first instead of the guy raking it in and sticking in stuff in the tax code, which goes only to 20% largely of the American people, then you’ve got a real problem in America.

And as long as we are in this thrall of Grover Norquist and the AARP, it’s going to be a rough, long haul.

Thanks.

 

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3 Comments on “Transcript: Alan Simpson supports eliminating tax expenditures to avert ‘fiscal cliff’

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