Pity poor Alan Simpson. Three weeks after he and fellow presidential debt commission co-chair Erskine Bowles tried to put a positive spin on their incredibly controversial prescription to balance the federal budget, Simpson is still taking heat from critics on both sides of the aisle.
“I’ve never had any nastier mail or [been in a] more difficult position in my life,” Simpson told the Casper Star-Tribune in his homestate of Wyoming.
“Just vicious,” Simpson said. “People I’ve known, relatives [saying], “‘You son of a bitch. How could you do this?’”
True to form, Simpson gave his critics as good — or better — than he got.
He told the paper that “while every interest group that testified before his committee agreed that the mounting federal debt is a national tragedy, they would then talk about why government funding to their area of interest shouldn’t be touched.”
“We had the greatest generation,” Simpson said. “I think this is the greediest generation.”
The problem, Simpson explained, is the “polarized” country we live in, and the media that exemplifies it. He then to reeled off the media figures ruining America for deficit commissioners like him.
“You don’t want to listen to the right and the left — the extremes,” he said. “You don’t want to listen to Keith Olbermann and Rush Babe [Limbaugh] and Rachel Minnow [sic] or whatever that is, and Glenn Beck. They’re entertainers. They couldn’t govern their way out of a paper sack — from the right or the left. But they get paid a lot of money from you and advertisers — thirty, fifty million a year — to work you over and get you juiced up with emotion, fear, guilt, and racism. Emotion, fear, guilt, and racism.
The final recommendations from the commission — which was charged by President Obama with finding a way to reduce the huge national deficit — have not yet been released, and Simpson suggested the relationship on the panel have been testy at times.
“There are 18 of us on the commission, and it took us four months to establish trust,” he told the paper. “That’s how bad things are in Washington. Four, five months before we could trust somebody not to leak what we said or go out and crater it.”
Despite all controversy it caused, Simpson said he’s “loved taking on the challenge of cutting the debt.” He also had a final message for critics, too:
“Time to go for facts,” he said. “Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion, but nobody’s entitled to their own facts.”