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Bowles: 'No easy way' to get books back in order

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January 10, 2013 08:30 AM EST | AP

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WASHINGTON — The co-chairman of the U.S. deficit commission calls failure to agree on a plan to reduce the national debt "the most disappointing thing in my life."

Erskine Bowles says "what is going on in Washington is absolutely nothing."

Bowles, a former White House chief of staff for President Bill Clinton, tells MSNBC nobody gets "a gold star" for deficit reduction in connection with the recent deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.

Bowles, who co-chaired the deficit panel with former Sen. Alan Simpson, says "there's no easy way out. The solutions are painful."

He also says Washington must come up with at least $4.7 trillion in deficit reduction. Failing that, he says, "we're not going to have any money left over to spend on anything else" but servicing the debt.