WASHINGTON -- Former senator Alan Simpson, who co-chaired President Obama's debt commission, blasted lawmakers for refusing to take on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and defense, saying that anything else is just a "sparrow belch in the midst of the typhoon."
"We're going to get rid of all earmarks, all waste, fraud and abuse, all foreign aid, Air Force One, all congressional pensions," said Simpson on Sunday in an interview on CNN's "State of the Union." "That's just sparrow belch in the midst of the typhoon. That's about six, eight, ten percent of where we are. So, I'm waiting for the politician to get up and say, there's only one way to do this: you dig into the big four, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and defense. And anybody giving you anything different than that, you want to walk out the door, stick your finger down your throat, and give them the green weenie."
Simpson's interview was full of his characteristically colorful language, including when he went after the "jerks" who charge that the debt commission wants to privatize Social Security. "We never suggested that," he responded. "We're talking about doing a hideous thing to change the retirement age to 68, by the year 2050, and hear people howl and bitch about that."
In August, Simpson became famous for sending an e-mail to the director of the National Older Women's League and writing that Social Security is "like a milk cow with 310 million tits!" Groups such as the National Organization for Women quickly called on him to step down, saying, "The ugliness of his disrespect for women is matched only by his dogged determination to dismantle Social Security by cutting benefits or increasing the retirement age." AARP also called his comments "offensive" and said that his comment "undermine[s] the serious work of the commission and give[s] us little confidence the commission can fairly look at important programs such as Social Security."
As The Huffington Post noted at the time, it was unclear whether he was referring to Social Security or America. On CNN Sunday, Simpson clarified that he meant he was talking about America, not just Social Security -- a distinction that's unlikely to mollify critics. "But they asked me if I had any regret, and I'm going to say it to you, because of the delightful person you -- you have always been real, and I'm not toadying up," he said to host Candy Crowley. "You're authentic. But I had one regret. I meant to say that America was a milk cow of 300 million tits and not just Social Security."
While many Republicans are still resisting cutting the defense budget, Simpson said that military spending needed to be addressed in order to seriously reduce the deficit. He said that the commission asked Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) about what they hear from the Defense Department about cutting contractors. "They don't know how many contractors they have," he said in amazement of the Pentagon. "It's something between 250,000 and a million. So, our proposal is to cut 250,000 contractors out of the game."
He also called for Americans to sacrifice more during wartime. "Let me tell you, guys, nobody's going to hurt the military," he said. "We're not going to hurt Iran and Iraq, but this is the first war, in our history, where we never had a tax to support a war, including the Revolution. And nobody has sacrificed in this country, nobody, accept the people in the military. And, in our report, we use words like sacrifice, self-sacrifice. We use words like going broke. And it's written in English. It's not written for pundits or parliamentarians or journalists. It's written for the American people. "