January 9th, 2012
04:32 PM ET

Former Senator Alan Simpson on America's failing politicians

Take a look at Fareed Zakaria's interview with one of the men behind the Simpson-Bowles plan, Alan Simpson. The former Republican Senator from Wyoming examines the GOP presidential contenders, and what Washington needs to do about the deficit.

FAREED ZAKARIA:  Do you think that Mitt Romney has now wrapped up the nomination for all intent and purposes?

ALAN SIMPSON:  I think that's very possible because they've washed all the laundry of his that they could ever find. Now they're going to start washing the laundry of Rick Santorum, who has not had his laundry washed yet.

Every one that rose to the top here has suddenly created a great deal of investigation and examination and Rick Santorum has never had that. And when they got it, the others, who have fallen, all capable people when they got it, they all dropped.

So Romney has had his thoroughly strung on the line and has survived.  And now they're going to start dragging the laundry out on Santorum and stringing it up on the line and there will be some tough stuff in there, controversial stuff, abortion, homosexuality, those flash words and earmarks and all that stuff. Bam, bam, here we go.

ZAKARIA:  What do you think it says, though, about the party that it seems to have been tried desperately to fall in love with everyone but Mitt Romney?

SIMPSON:  I don't know.  It's a strange thing.  I think that he is a very effective man.  And I think the reason they keep coming back to him regardless of the, quote, "flaws," they attribute to him is that he's the only guy that ever met a payroll.

He's the only guy that ever took over a failed organization filled with corruption and disunity and dysfunctional, like the Congress, and put it back together and then taken businesses which were on the ropes.  Somebody said, yes, but he killed - he got rid of all these people.  I said, well, you've got two choices when you take over a failed business - let it fail and everybody is out of work or take it over and hire half of them back, start paying the shareholders and get cracking.

That's what he did.

ZAKARIA:  So you endorse him?

SIMPSON:  I haven't done that yet because I feel that I've irritated everyone in the United States and they wouldn't want the curse visited upon them, you know, because with the - what Erskine and I have done, in 67 pages, has effectively POed everyone in America, especially the powerful howling groups like the AARP and Grover Norquist, and oh, name them, you know, man, oh, man.

It's been fun, though.  I love it.

ZAKARIA:  One more question on the politics, before we get to the debt issue. What does it say about the Tea Party, though? This was the great vaunted new element in the Republican Party.  And at the end of the day, it seems like the Republican Party is, as it always does, is nominating the frontrunner, the guy who's waited in line, the guy who's run before. And, you know, that fairly traditional, hierarchical dynamic is at work. The Tea Party wasn't able to change it at all.

SIMPSON:  Well, Republicans give each other the saliva test of purity.  They like to give the saliva test of purity and then they lose and then they just bitch for four years. It's an amazing party.

And I've watched it with some trepidation, but honestly, if that's what they are going to do again, this guy is not pure enough, he's not conservative enough, he's too liberal, well, then the Obama is a walk-in.  And they know it.  They're having a lot of fun watching this or-gy.

ZAKARIA:  So, you know, one of the central moments in the Republican debates, the candidates were asked, if you get $10 of spending cuts for $1 of tax increases, would you take it?

And not one of them took it. I take it your view is that this is fantasy, that there is simply no way to deal with the budget without raising taxes.

SIMPSON:  It's dream world.  And I couldn't believe it when I watched that, when they asked that question and nine hands just shot up like robots.

And I thought, how can you get there?

Now, you don't have to raise taxes, which, of course, makes Grover froth at the mouth, and all his minions. You just go into the tax code and you say let's get rid of these tax expenditures.  They are one trillion, one-hundred billion a year.

The home mortgage interest deduction, a million bucks? Second homes? No, we said get it down to $500,000 then give a 12.5 percent non-refundable tax credit. That helps the little guy everybody talks about.

Charitable deduction, give a 12.5 percent non-refundable tax credit and then go in and look at the rest of the stuff. You won't believe what's in there - parking for employees, Blue Cross, insurance, oil and gas. You know, I've trampled on my own sacred cows to do that pitch.

But you have to - it has to be self-sacrifice and know that this country is going broke.

ZAKARIA:  Are you resigned to the fact that nothing is likely to happen on your proposal and the ideas around it until the election? Or do you think that there's still a possibility, in the next year, something can happen?

SIMPSON: We'll see what happens. But every day that goes by, this is like a stink bomb in a garden party.  And as they're eating their tea cookies and saying nothing is going to happen in America, this odor is coming out from under the table because you can't get there by doing waste, fraud and abuse, foreign aid, earmarks, Nancy Pelosi's airplane, Air Force One, all Congressional pensions.  Give it up.  That's about 4 or 5 percent of what we're in.

You have to go deal with Medicare, Medicaid, the solvency of Social Security and defense.  And if you can't raise the retirement age to 68 by the year 2050 without the AARP losing their marbles and Grover slavering at the mouth on every kind of thing you talk about, calling it a tax increase, we won't make it.

If that's the kind of powers out there and making a dysfunctional government, why, pull up your shorts and start running for the exit.

ZAKARIA:  Senator, when I was growing up and coming of age, I remember you were thought of as a pretty conservative guy.  I mean you were representing Wyoming, after all.  And to listen to you now, you sound like a moderate. Have you changed or has the Republican Party changed?

SIMPSON:  Well, I think the Republican Party changed.  But where - where - what happened with me is, I always felt that abortion is a hideous and terrible thing.

Let's all admit that.  But it's a deeply intimate and personal decision. Here's a party that believes in government out of your lives, the precious right of privacy and the right to be left alone. Well, then what are you doing in this issue? Partial birth abortion is not an emotional issue, it's a medical issue.  It's to free the birth canal for a - hopefully, a later child.  I mean it’s madness.

Gay-lesbian issues, we all have someone we know or love who's gay or lesbian. What the hell is this all about? Madness. And if we're going to get trapped in that we're headed for some more strife.

ZAKARIA:  Senator, a real pleasure to have you on. I hope we can have you on again.

SIMPSON:  Well, I hope you'll stick around, because you speak with clarity and you - and you ask great questions and you don't get caught up in all the garbage on the extreme right and extreme left. People - Erskine and I go around the country and we can speak to any group, right or left.  Give us an hour, let them ask questions.  We'll get a standing ovation because people are thirsting for somebody to give them something other than BS or mush.

And both parties are giving the - giving the American people BS and mush. And they're sick of it.  And something is going to happen.  I don't know what it is, but people are smarter than their politicians.

They always have been.  And we'll see what happens.

Post by:
Topics: 2012 Election • Budget • Debt Crisis • GPS Show

soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Gemechu

    It seems that u urself are endorsing Romney. In the first three questions you mentioned the name Romney, haha Fareed stop Framing Romney and don't ask leading questions.

    January 9, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Reply
  2. Chuck

    Sure this guy isn't a democrat?

    January 9, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Reply
    • T Hughes

      As he said, the GOP has changed, driven to extreme positions and litmus tests that would have been considered crazy once upon a time, and detrimental to electability. Unlike the current crop of conservabots, Simpson lives and has always lived in the real world.

      Politics is the art of governing, not the exercise of throwing tantrums.

      January 9, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Reply
    • Dave

      He seems to want no new taxes and he wants to raise the retirement age to 68 for SS. This is not shared sacrifice, this is a sacrifice for the bottom 90% or so. It's just so rare to see a Republican who's not full of it that he is a breath of fresh air.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:08 am | Reply
    • yuri pelham

      No he's the last Republican left standing. A responsible conservative. Rhetoric and censorship combine to prohibit me from further characterization of the impostors of today who call themselves Republicans. In any event I'm smiling broadly for they are self destructing as evil always does.

      January 15, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Reply
    • Raaz

      The cpoorrate media will never change as long as its owned by multi-national corporations. It's 95% cpoorrate propaganda and 5% fluff.

      February 9, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Reply
  3. Herman Morgan

    Alan Simpson has Always been the type of "no BS" Republican that I admire. More of a Barry Goldwater straight shooter, than a Reagan Rationalizer. His common sense is a quickly diminishing commodity in the GOP, and the "BS & Mush" he speaks of is killing the appeal the party once had for moderate independents. The most recent Republican who espoused such things as getting the Repub's out of people's bedrooms and doctor's offices, was Allen Spector, a moderate man, who's disgust with the Bush/Cheney policies drove him to the Other Party.
    Along these same lines, the Tea-Party / Grover Norquist cabal have driven this years GOP Candidates so far to the right, that they have No appeal to the working-class, nor to the more Educated Republicans. This is what causes a brilliant and experienced man like Jon Huntsman to be ignored, and reviled for serving as Our Ambassador to Our most important Trading Partner ! Get a Clue GOP, You don't even like Mitt, so how do you expect Independents to vote for this Oily Used-car Salesman ?

    January 9, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      I do agree that Jon Huntsman should deserve more attention. He is by far the best of the whole bunch.

      January 9, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Reply
  4. j. von hettlingen

    I like Alan Simpson. He's funny, very sensible and has an outrageous language. It's a pity he's 80. Were he 20 years younger, he should run for presidency.

    January 9, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Reply
    • Ann

      I like Simpson too. I really enjoyed his forthright ways, and humor. A welcome change.

      Also, GPS is a great show, and Fareed does a fantastic job!

      January 9, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Reply
      • j. von hettlingen

        I agree, Fareed and Amar do make the show and the blogsites so exciting!

        January 10, 2012 at 6:43 am |
    • yuri pelham

      Wrong! 10 years younger.

      January 15, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Reply
    • Laurentino

      Gov Perry a "good man"? This is the man that wants the Texas Coridor and Guardisil for ltltie girls. Please research those two topics. The Gov won't tell Obama anything but what Barkey wants to hear. Both are New World Order Globalists. Sorry to disturb your fantasy.

      February 11, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Reply
  5. ray

    This man is so right in so many ways its unbelievable how we let rednecks and idiots control the republican party.

    January 9, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Reply
  6. Mike P

    "Partial birth abortion is not an emotional issue, it's a medical issue. It's to free the birth canal for a – hopefully, a later child." Well, what about the child that's already IN the birth canal, struggling to be born? It's hypocritical to say you're all concerned about making way for a hypothetical future child when there's a here-and-now actual child you're wanting to kill to do that.

    January 9, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Reply
  7. Anti_Fareed

    Fareed's accent is not as heavy as those tech support help desks in India.

    January 9, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Reply
  8. In Favor of Higher Education

    No one wants an abortion!

    January 9, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Reply
  9. In Favor of Higher Education

    Why not have a youthful vice-presidential candidate? Alan Simpson is doing great at his age. I think it is blatant agism to forego looking at this man as a potential candidate. Has he been asked?

    January 9, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Reply
  10. Tim K

    I am a moderate Democrat who's grown more liberal since the reign of G.W. Bush, the wrecking of the American economy by Wall Street, and especially the rise of the Tea Party. That being said, I loved Fareed's interview with Sen. Simpson. The guy could make me vote Republican again. Straight forward, intelligent, balanced, compassionate, and no BS. Whatever the Republican has become, it is no longer the party of Mr. Simpson, which is unfortunate for them.

    January 9, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Reply
  11. JAL

    Put the blame on Santorum. He is like a spoiled brat who was just told that he can't go to Chuckie Cheese after church on Sunday.

    January 9, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Reply
  12. Robert

    People like Alan Simpson are the reason I voted Republican for so many years. It becomes more difficult every year. I would probably vote for Romney, but not enthusiastically. If anyone else gets it, I'll hold my nose and vote for Obama again. The Simpson/Erskine budget report was the only sensible input on the fiscal crisis and it is being totally ignored. I am really afraid for the future of this country.

    January 10, 2012 at 11:04 am | Reply
  13. edward

    Alan Simpson appears to be a very different Republican than the current crop of candidates who do not appear to have clear plans, beyond rhetoric, for a US economic recovery. 2012 is a crucial year for the US – the political system appears to be broken – I really do hope the US can recover but I have to admit to feeling somewhat pessimistic at this point in time.

    January 11, 2012 at 1:36 am | Reply
  14. Mike

    One of the best one-on-ones on I've seen on GPS. Sen. Simpson is a blunt, straight-shooter and calls it the way it is, without all the PC-speak. I hope that the next president and a Republican-led House and Senate has the resolve to carry through on most/all of the Simpson-Bowles plan. It is probably the only viable way to slowly extricate ourselves from this incredible fiscal hole we've dug over the past 45 years. Wish we could install the good Senator as fiscal czar for about 8 years.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:55 am | Reply
  15. LWZRGHT

    Why can't the two of them be President and Vice-President? Too bad Simpson retired. He really is a legislative genius. I bet you can find his mark on all of the budget balancing in the 90s. And too bad his plan was ignored, because it really would work.

    January 12, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Reply
  16. Thomas

    Much easier to be the honest elder statesman when you are not running for election, which is too bad and says a lot about our election process and candidates. So far, only Huntsman has shown me that kind of directness.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Reply
    • Billygoat

      I agree it is easier to say how you feel when not running for election. However Sen. Simpson has always been that way regardless of whether or not he was running for election. You always knew where he stood on issues. Wyoming is a very conservative state, yet Sen. Simpson was always clear on where he stood on the issue of Gay Marriage and Abortion and was still elected. What I take from that is people value forthrightness and honesty more that political gamesmanship, ans Senator Simpson has forthrightness and honesty in abundance. He is one that will call a spade a spade and not sugar coat it so it goes down better. That is why I like him.

      January 18, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Reply
  17. WyoWind

    I live in Wyoming and Simpson is the real deal. He is a no BS kind of guy who calls it like he sees it. The Republican Party today would be in a much better position if it were more straight-forward like Simpson. Currently it lives in a fantasy world of endless tax cuts for the "job creators" et al. What a crock! Tell it like it is Alan!

    January 13, 2012 at 5:37 am | Reply
  18. mobetta

    Alan Simpson, the Senator from Wyoming, Co-Chair of
    Obama's deficit commission, calls senior citizens the
    Greediest Generation as he compared "Social Security " to a
    Milk Cow with 310 million teats.

    Here's a response in a letter from PATTY MYERS in Montana ... I think
    she is a little ticked off! She also tells it like it is!

    "Hey Alan, let's get a few things straight!!!!!

    1. As a career politician, you have been on the public
    dole (teat) for FIFTY YEARS.

    2. I have been paying Social Security taxes for 48 YEARS
    (since I was 15 years old. I am now 63).

    3 My Social Security payments, and those of millions of other
    Americans, were safely tucked away in an interest bearing
    account for decades until you political pukes decided to
    raid the account and give OUR money to a bunch of zero
    losers in return for votes, thus bankrupting the system and
    turning Social Security into a Ponzi scheme that would make
    Bernie Madoff proud.

    4. Recently, just like Lucy & Charlie
    Brown, you and "your ilk" pulled the proverbial football away
    from millions of American seniors nearing retirement and
    moved the goalposts for full retirement from age 65 to age,
    67. NOW, you and your "shill commission" is proposing to
    move the goalposts YET AGAIN.

    5. I, and millions of other Americans, have been paying
    into Medicare from Day One, and now "you morons" propose to
    change the rules of the game. Why? Because "you idiots"
    mismanaged other parts of the economy to such an extent that
    you need to steal our money from Medicare to pay the bills.

    6. I, and millions of other Americans, have been paying
    income taxes our entire lives, and now you propose to
    increase our taxes yet again. Why? Because you "incompetent
    b@st@rds" spent our money so profligately that you just kept
    on spending even after you ran out of money. Now, you come
    to the American taxpayers and say you need more to pay off
    YOUR debt.

    To add insult to injury, you label us "greedy" for
    calling "bullsh!t" to your incompetence. Well, Captain
    Bullsh!t, I have a few questions for YOU:

    1. How much money have you earned from the American
    taxpayers during your pathetic 50-year political career?

    2. At what age did you retire from your pathetic
    political career, and how much are you receiving in annual
    retirement benefits from the American taxpayers?

    3. How much do you pay for YOUR government provided
    health insurance?

    4. What cuts in YOUR retirement and healthcare benefits
    are you proposing in your disgusting deficit reduction
    proposal, or as usual, have you exempted yourself and your
    political cronies?

    It is you, Captain Bullsh!it, and your political co-conspirators
    called Congress who are the "greedy" ones. It is you
    and your fellow nutcase thieves who have bankrupted America
    and stolen the American dream from millions of loyal,
    patriotic taxpayers. And for what? Votes and your job and
    retirement security at our expense, you lunk headed, leech.

    That's right, sir. You and yours have bankrupted America for the sole
    purpose of advancing your pathetic,political careers. You know it, we
    know it, and you know that we know it.

    And you can take that to the bank, you miserable son of a b!tch. NO,
    I did not stutter.

    If you agree with what a Montana citizen, Patty Myers,
    says, please PASS IT ON!!!!

    April 18, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Reply
  19. Furious & Focused

    I agree with mobetta's comments above; he's just a miserable sob.

    May 17, 2012 at 8:50 am | Reply

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