The failure on Capitol Hill to agree on the parameters of a sustainable fiscal vision has been the topic of lots of finger-pointing. As the conventional wisdom goes, Republicans refuse to budge on taxes and Democrats refuse to budge on safety-net programs. Democrats, however, speak often about the need to cut entitlement spending as part of a balanced deal, while Republicans maintain that new taxes are unacceptable.
"You can't cut spending your way out of this hole. You can't grow your way out of this hole. And you can't tax your way out of this hole. So put that in your pipe and smoke it, we tell these people. This is madness," Simpson said. "If you want to be a purist, go somewhere on a mountaintop and praise the East or something. But if you want to be in politics, you learn to compromise. And you learn to compromise on the issue without compromising yourself. Show me a guy who won't compromise and I'll show you a guy with rock for brains."
The Simpson-Bowles commission's work comprised of policies worth trillions in long-run deficit reductions by way of deep domestic spending reductions, cuts to safety-net programs like Medicare and Social Security, and new tax revenues.
Simpson characterized Obama as flexible but caught in a no-win situation.
"If he had embraced our plan, he would have been ripped to shreds," the former senator said. "[H]e would have been ripped by the Democrats, say, why, you rotten -- you're digging into these precious, precious Medicare. And the Republicans would have rejected -- if he'd have embraced it, the Republicans en masse in the House would have rejected it. So either way, he's going to get hammered. So he is playing the waiting game."