Alan Simpson: Politicians Should Quit Politicizing 'The Poor'

Alan Simpson, co-chairman of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform speaks during a news conference on d
Alan Simpson, co-chairman of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform speaks during a news conference on deficit reduction, Monday, Sept. 12, 2011, at the National Press Club in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON -- Former U.S. Senator and co-chairman of President Barack Obama's deficit commission Alan Simpson told an audience Tuesday that politicians talk too much about the poor and vulnerable for political gain, and that he regrets the way interest groups have used the commission's recommendations to appeal to their members.

"Could you please cut out the babble? Would you quit talking about the poor, the vulnerable, the veterans, the old ladies going over cliffs, the hospices, the bedpans? I mean, what the hell? We all know, all of us know, that that's the people you want to take care of," Simpson said at the event, which was moderated by George Washington University's Frank Sesno and sponsored by Face the Facts USA.

Simpson shared the stage with Jared Bernstein, former chief economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden.

The former senator spent much his time on the panel railing against various groups that have opposed recommendations made in the so-called Simpson-Bowles proposal to the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.

He recalled his interaction with one of these groups, the California Alliance for Retired Americans, which he described as "some left-wing operation." Earlier this year, the group put out a flyer featuring images of young people and alleging Simpson was using the deficit as an excuse to gut Social Security. Simpson responded to the group in April with a letter.

"What a wretched group of seniors you must be to use the faces of the very young people that we are trying to save, while the 'greedy geezers' like you use them as a tool and a front for your nefarious bunch of crap," Simpson wrote. "You must feel some sense of shame for shoveling this bullshit."

Simpson famously said in 2010 that Social Security is like a "milk cow with 310 million tits."

At the Tuesday event, he slammed the AARP, the nation's largest seniors group, for resisting cuts to Social Security and Medicare, which he said will go bankrupt without significant changes.

"The senior groups are playing tough. They haven’t helped us a bit. We’re not balancing the budget on the backs of the [seniors]," he said, adding, "The nastiest letters I get are from people over 65."

Simpson also mistakenly encouraged audience members to visit www.fixthedebt.com, which belongs to a debt consolidation and credit repair company. He had intended to direct them to the website of his organization, www.fixthedebt.org.

UPDATE: Oct. 5 -- Cable channel RLTV was a co-host of the event and will air the forum at 8 p.m. EST on Oct. 10.

WATCH Excerpts Of The Discussion Between Simpson, Bernstein And Sesno:

CORRECTION: A previous version of this entry referred to recommendations made by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. The recommendations were proposed by Simpson and Bowles, but were never endorsed by the commission.



Stuff Alan Simpson Says