Simpson and Bowles: VAT and healthcare on table at debt panel

Former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) and former Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles said Sunday that nothing will be off the table when the bipartisan pair opens President Barack Obama's financial commission Tuesday.

Or, as Simpson said in classic fashion, the point is to get everyone at the table, and then "we'll bleed and b---h from there."

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The two are tasked with leading the panel through ways to stem the more than $12 trillion national debt, which is expected to be near $14 trillion -- and still rising -- by the time the panel submits its recommendations on Dec. 1.

Simpson called the task "a suicide mission," noting that he and Bowles were "jumping without a parachute."

"It's not just unsustainable," Simpson said. "It's unconscionable what's going to happen to this country."

The two appeared on "Fox News Sunday," where Bowles said that foreign borrowing was a "recipe for disaster."

"Let's make sure the American people know we have a looming crisis," Bowles said. "To do that we need a real set of numbers." He added that he would like to go after spending before getting to potential tax hikes.

When asked about President Barack Obama's vow to not raise taxes on the middle class, Bowles said, "What I feel bound by is the president looked at Sen. Simpson and I and said everything is on the table."

That includes "cutting sacred cows or raising revenue."

Simpson also acknowledged that "nothing off the table" included the just-signed healthcare bill.

And, Bowles said, that includes the controversial value-added tax.

Simpson said the important thing was looking across the board at comprehensive overhaul. "You can't do a value-added tax without dealing with the income tax," he said.


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