Former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson, the top Republican on the President’s bipartisan debt commission, painted a vivid picture of what Washington will look like when the national debt limit must be extended beyond $14 trillion and the new class of Tea Party Republicans, with their mantra of “no compromise” have to take that tough vote.
He predicted a government that approaches shutdown in April of next year.
“This is going to be beautiful politics - The brutal kind,” he told reporters in Washington at a forum put on by the Christian Science Monitor. “I love those,” he said, with a twinkle in his eye and a jokester tinge to his voice.
“The debt limit, when it comes in April or May, will prove who’s a hero and who’s a jerk and who’s a charlatan and who’s a faqir,” said Simpson. “And there it will be right there. Because they’re going to say, these new guys, some of them, and I’ve met a good deal of them and boy they’re sharp cookies,” he said, adding a message to new Congressmen.
“Compromise is not a filthy word,” said Simpson. “It doesn’t mean you’re a wimp when you learn to compromise. You either learn to compromise and legislate or go home – my personal view – anyway there they are and they’re going to say I will not vote for the debt limit extension until you cut this. Say, you can’t do that. you can’t possibly do that. well, then I’m not voting for it. and they’ll say well the government will close. Which they’ll say that’s what I came here for. Oh, I can’t wait. It’ll be something and I’ll be watching.”
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It is hard to say what exactly will happen when if the government does not act to address the national debt crisis, it will harm the economy. Simpson’s proposal with commission co-chair Erskine Bowles, is one way to address the problem. Most of the cuts and pain in that proposal will not kick in for years.
But the commission has until next month for 14 of its 18 members to agree on a set of proposals. Bowles would not tell reporters today how close they are to accord. He said President Obama has agreed to support the proposal if they “reach the promised land” and 14 of the 18 members agree.
An initial proposal for steep spending cuts, a revamped tax system and entitlement reform has no real cheerleaders on either side of the aisle.
Simpson said that no matter what happens with the commission, the voters have made sure that the government will have to change its ways.
“They’re sending these anti-tax people,” Simpson said of voters. “I can’t wait for the blood bath in April. It won’t matter whether two of us have signed off on this, or 14 or 18. When debt limit time comes they’re going to look around and say what in the hell do we do now? We’ve got guys who will not approve the debt limit extension unless we give them a piece of meat, real meat off of this package, and boy the blood bath will be extraordinary. And they’ll say how the hell do you get meat off this package.”