Debt panel's Simpson: Lawmakers must hit the 'big four' for cuts

Former senator Alan Simpson, a proponent of a sweeping deficit reduction plan, said politically popular moves to tackle spending amount to a "sparrow belch in the midst of a typhoon."

Simpson, a former Republican lawmaker from Wyoming and co-chair of the president's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, said common calls on deficit reduction do little to nothing to address the burgeoning federal deficit, last scored at a record $1.5 trillion. Tackling large entitlement programs and the defense budget are necessary parts of the deficit fight, he said.

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"If you hear a politician get up and say, I know we can get this done. We're going to get rid of all earmarks, all waste, fraud and abuse, all foreign aid, Air Force One, all congressional pensions. That's just sparrow belch in the midst of the typhoon. That's about six, eight, 10 percent of where we are," he said on CNN's "State of the Union."

"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,'" he added. "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."

He also dismissed a recent push by some Republicans to reduce federal spending to 2008 levels, as well as a call from the president for a five-year freeze on discretionary spending as "peanuts."

"If you don't do something with the ones that are on automatic pilot, like Medicare, then it crushes out all the discretionary spending, it just wipes it out," he said.

However, on a more optimistic note, he said he thought lawmakers may be starting to worry less about reelection and more about dealing with present problems.


"The god here in Washington is the god of re-election and I think that god is a little tarnished, I think the feet are crumbling," he said.

On Saturday, Simpson said he spoke with a Democratic senator, who he did not name, who told him he was willing to push for the debt commission's plan, even if it cost him his position at the polls.

“I’m ready to go out on this time by carrying the ball out on this program," Simpson said the senator told him.

Simpson co-chaired the debt commission alongside Erskine Bowles. The proposal emerging from the group, a $3.8 trillion budget-slashing package dubbed the Bowles-Simpson plan, failed to garner enough support from panel members to put it forth for a Congressional vote. However, it marked a visible starting point on the debate on the budget and its deficit in the new Congress.

Sens. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Senate Democrats want Warren to talk costs on 'Medicare for All' US ban on China tech giant faces uncertainty a month out MORE (D-Va.) and Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissThe Hill's Morning Report - Gillibrand drops out as number of debaters shrinks Hoekstra emerges as favorite for top intelligence post Republicans say Democrats holding up disaster relief as 'Sandy payback' MORE (R-Ga.) are leading a group of roughly 20 senators who want to introduce the commission's plan as legislation.