At a luncheon this month in Jackson, Wyoming, former U.S. senator Alan Simpson left no one in doubt about how important he believes it is to fix the federal debt.
Nor did Simpson – who co-chaired the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform -- hold back on his criticism of those he sees standing in the way of reform. Emphasizing the need to reform the tax code and social benefit programs, he criticized both anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and the AARP, which has resisted entitlement program changes.
About 260 people attended the Oct. 18 luncheon, which was hosted by Paul Hansen, western states regional director for The Concord Coalition.
As he welcomed Simpson, Hansen noted that ancient Greeks understood the tendency for democracies to elect people who promise something for nothing, resulting in governments that eventually go broke. In his inimitable way, Simpson responded that the ancient Greeks also gave us the word politics, with poli meaning “many” and tics meaning “blood-sucking insects.”
Hansen and Simpson both pressed the point that the broad outlines of a fiscal solution are widely known: trims to Social Security and Medicare, combined with revenue-enhancing tax reform sufficient to set the federal deficit on a declining path in the medium- to long-term.
They also said that throughout their extensive travels and speaking, they find almost all Americans ready to make the shared sacrifices needed to put America on a better fiscal path.