Simpson: Debt issue won't be resolved till after election

Former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson on debt hitting $16T


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," August 17, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": All right, back to the debt now and the $16 trillion question that some Democrats want banned from the presidential debate, the one of president's debt commission's initial recommendations.

We are trying to get a hold of some of the Democrats. We have actually had a couple of them on, so hope springs eternal. No luck thus far.

But we did luck out with the former co-chair of the president's debt commission, the always unassuming, modest, very mild-mannered Alan Simpson.

Senator, good to have you.

ALAN SIMPSON, FORMER CO-CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL COMMISSION ON FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY AND REFORM: Just a genial, gentle fellow sitting out here in the wilds of Wyoming.


CAVUTO: The one thing I like about you is you are just pretty blunt and pretty frank. And you've probably heard some Democrats, and I stress not all, and this will not go anywhere, but they don't want your commission's work brought up and they argue the reason why isn't political, but that because your commission gave a number of options, it would be like each candidate saying, yay or nay on a number of options or your commission's work.

What do you think of that?

SIMPSON: Well, there are so many things in it.

There were over 70 recommendations of what we can do to get America back on track. Do not forget, Durbin voted for this baby, Senator Durbin, a Democrat, Conrad, a Democrat senator.


CAVUTO: Paul Ryan didn't. Paul Ryan did not. Paul Ryan did not.

SIMPSON: No, no, but he didn't, but he did -- he said -- I went to him. I went to Hensarling and Ryan and Camp. I said I want to know something. If you voted against this because you are in thrall or captive of Grover Norquist, I have lost all respect for you.

And they didn't say a thing, and finally, after I quit ranting, they said, no, if you take away the employer deduction of employee health care premiums, the employers will look around and blink like a frog in a hailstorm and they're going to go to -- they will go to ObamaCare.

And I said that is a very logical thing that may happen. That is why they didn't go. And they didn't like any revenue at all.

CAVUTO: That, I remember, the revenue part. They was a leeriness on the part -- taxes were not raised more on the part of Democrats.

That, I remember. But I guess what I'm asking, Senator, is we are not making progress here. Your work and that you did with Erskine Bowles, Bill Clinton's former chief of staff, has gone nowhere. That report, nice as it is, is collecting dust on a shelf.

Are you offended?

SIMPSON: No, because it's maybe on the shelf, but it's like Dr. Frankenstein is about to come by and inject some electrodes into the corpse and it's going to rise from the shelf.

Let me tell you, everyone is saying, or a lot of people, with the, you know, with clarity, are saying this baby has not gone away. And between November 6, when these guys will do nothing, either party, nothing, just BS and mush the whole way through, then between November 6 and December 31, they will really be mucking around in $5 trillion to $7 trillion bucks of quicksand. And it will have to be discussed.


CAVUTO: By the way, before we get on here, do you have any friends left in Washington, any at all?

SIMPSON: No, but Erskine and I found that there were several pockets people we had not P.O.ed, and we are finding them. We're trying to find where they are so that we can go there and completely irritate them.



SIMPSON: Well, this is true.

CAVUTO: But, Senator, in all seriousness, the one thing I am wondering about here is they are not addressing, neither party, frankly, is addressing this. Everyone's making a big to-do out of Paul Ryan and that he will cut the budget to smithereens.

You and I both know at best he's slowing the growth of our spending, not reversing it at all. So, if he takes hell for that, and we're not talking cutting, just for slowing the growth, that can't encourage you.

SIMPSON: Well, he encourages me.

Erskine and I felt he was one of the sharpest guys we dealt with. He doesn't have to have a staff member there feeding him stuff in little memos. He can go a half-hour without a note. He knows the issues. He also said to us, I think a year-and-a-half ago, if we can't get something done in America, there's no need to me to mash my head into the wall around here. I have things to do back in Wisconsin.

And now this thing comes to him. I don't think he was seeking it. But let me tell you, he becomes a spokesman of hard truth against fakery.


CAVUTO: He's against raising taxes. And I think he's an impressive individual himself, interviewed him many, many times.

But if he's against looking at revenues, even as an option, which you said should be on the table, and Paul Ryan, someone you deeply admire, and I can understand that, says it shouldn't be on the table, I don't see this ball moving much forward.

SIMPSON: Well, we're going to roll the ball in a very curious way. You will go into the tax expenditures, which is spending by any other name, and he saw those.

He knows exactly that when you go in and dig those out, like Coburn did, and take $6 billion bucks from ethanol subsidies, and he would have liked that, and you will do things like that, that's not a tax increase.


CAVUTO: In other words, not raising taxes.


CAVUTO: That's an important point. Get rid of subsidies and credits and all that nonsense. The Grover Norquists and all say that's -- the fiscal purists, whatever you want to call them, they say, wait a minute, when you take someone's credit or allowance away, that's raising taxes. You say what to Grover Norquist?

SIMPSON: Well, there is a word we wouldn't want to share with the gentle listeners. But we have it. And I will reserve it for him personally.

CAVUTO: All righty.


CAVUTO: Bottom line, we're not making much progress. Bottom line, we are not. I'm wondering does all this have to wait until the election to formally sort out? I guess it does.

SIMPSON: Yes. Nothing will be done. Nothing.

I didn't think that Erskine would ever say that we would go over the fiscal cliff, but Erskine says we'll go over that cliff now.

CAVUTO: All right.

Let's see, offended the Democrats, the Republicans, oh, the AARP.


CAVUTO: I forgot them. They hate you. They hate you. They actually loathe you.

SIMPSON: Well, I'm the only guy living that ever held a hearing on the AARP when I was in the Senate.


CAVUTO: What don't you like about the AARP? You get the food coupons at restaurants. What's your problem?

SIMPSON: I think their advertising is salacious.

And we have to watch some of the -- it's sexually-oriented. Other than that, I'l tell you why I don't like them. Because I asked their leadership, are there any patriots around here or just marketers? That's the biggest marketing agent.

I went in and dug around. They lease that building for $17 million a year. The lease is that thick. They got money up the gazoo. They won't let people in their headquarters because people are working so hard in there, they don't want them disturbed. It's because the damn thing is made of mahogany and marble. Go take a look at that dump down there. It's unbelievable. Money, money, money, that's all they are interested in.


CAVUTO: Well, they just took your card away, Senator.


SIMPSON: No, I've subscribed. They cannot possibly do that. It'd be unconstitutional.

CAVUTO: All right, all right.

SIMPSON: It would help my Constitution, but...

CAVUTO: I want to help protect whatever, you know, loyal audience you have.

Senator, seriously, I admire your guts. I always marvel at the fact that you were, in fact, a United States senator. That says a lot about you.

SIMPSON: And I said these same things when I was in the Senate.

CAVUTO: Oh, I remember quite well. I remember quite well. I remember quite well.


SIMPSON: Yes, I did.

CAVUTO: All right, it's good that you have been still continuing to tick people off. Alan Simpson...

SIMPSON: And I am a veteran. I am not anti-veteran.

Anyway, here we go. And keep slugging.

CAVUTO: OK. Be well. And good luck coming out of your shell, Alan Simpson in Wyoming.


CAVUTO: I'll tell you, left or right, guys, you have got to admire that, all right?

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