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Respected former U.S. Senator: ‘What a nuthouse’

August 31st, 2012
08:19 AM ET

By Samuel Burke, CNN

Austerity, debt, taxes growth – those aren’t just the words to describe the eurozone crisis, they’re the critical issues driving the U.S. Presidential campaign

President Obama tried an age-old Washington D.C. trick to break the political logjam in 2010: he appointed a commission called "Simpson Bowles," – after its bipartisan chairmen – to come up with a proposal to balance the budget and cut the debt. And they did. But it went nowhere when it came to implementation. And the only thing both political parties agree on is that it's the other's party’s fault.

On Wednesday night Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan said, “[Obama] created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.”

Ryan failed to mention he served on the Simpson Bowles Commission and voted against the plan. The failure to act on the proposal is symbol of the incredible partisanship in Washington D.C. 

5 things learned at the convention

Alan Simpson is a former Republican senator from Wyoming who was one of the chairmen on the committee that created the proposal.

Lauded by many as a good starting point to tackle the U.S. budget problems, Simpson says one of the roadblocks to implanting the bill has been that some conservatives opposed his plan to remove tax expenditures, which allow exemptions and deductions to select groups and industries.

“You go into the tax expenditures, which are spending by any other name… And you start rooting those out,” Simpson says.

But he contends that Republicans, like the powerful U.S. conservative Grover Norquist, regard closing loopholes as a tax increase by another name – “To which I say: ‘That is deceptive,’ Simpson rebuts.

Live: Get latest convention updates here

Simpson doesn’t deny there were some revenue increases. He determined that there were three dollars cut for every tax dollar raised, and said some combination of tax increases and cuts it exactly what the United States must do.

But when push comes to shove, he says that Democrats always back out at the mention of entitlement program reform and Republicans walk out at the mention of tax cuts.

“Now that’s where we are. What a nuthouse.”

Rating Paul Ryan

CNN’s Ken Olshansky produced this piece for television.

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