Transcript: Erskine Bowles calls sequestration “stupid, stupid, stupid”

Transcript of excerpts from the Politico Playbook Breakfast with Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, co-chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, on sequestration and deficit reduction. The event was held on Feb. 19, 2013 and moderated by Mike Allen, Politico’s White House correspondent.

Mike Allen:
…We were talking about the sequester, which I think most people in this room believe will happen on March 1st. Those automatic cuts. Mr. Bowles, you’ve referred to them as dumb…

Erskine Bowles:
Stupid. They are dumb and they are stupid, stupid, stupid. It’s stupid because first of all – they are inane. Look, there’s no business in the country that makes its cuts across-the-board. You go in there and you try to surgically cut those things that have least adverse effect on productivity. Second, they’re cutting those areas where we actually need to invest – education, infrastructure, research. And third, we don’t make any cuts in those things that are growing faster than the economy. That’s stupid, stupid, stupid.

Mike Allen:
And yet, it sounds like you think that when the sequester kicks in, that may be a window to do something big. You were White House Chief of Staff in the government shutdown. Tell us what’s going to happen March 1 when those sequester cuts kick in and why you think that might be a chance to do something big.

Erskine Bowles:
When you guys have to go out here to Reagan Airport and wait in line 3 hours to get through security, you’re going to be pissed and so is everybody else. And you could use lots of different stories just like that. And when that happens, they’re going to come back to Congress and say we’re sick of this intransigence, let’s get together, let’s do something smart, let’s put the partisanship aside, let’s pull together and let’s fix this debt…

Look, when Alan and I first got into this deal, we thought we were doing it for our grandkids. But the more that we looked at the numbers and the more we looked at the country’s financial condition, we realized we’re not doing it for our grandkids. You know, we’re not even doing it for our kids. We’re doing it for us, for the country, and we’ve got to put our fiscal house in order. We can’t be the first generation of Americans to leave the country worse off than we’ve found it.

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