Cutting Costs Cutting CostsCutting Costs
Inside the effort to improve the efficiency of federal operations.

Deficit Reduction Must Address Big Three

Carolyn Kaster/AP

At an event at The George Washington University on Tuesday, former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., and Jared Bernstein, former chief economist and economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, both agreed that no discussion about reducing the debt and deficit is serious without addressing the big three: Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

“Every penny that came in last year to the United States…went only to [those] three things,”  Simpson said. “When somebody comes up on their hind legs in this election and says, ‘I can get this done without touching precious Medicare, precious Medicaid, precious Social Security and precious defense,’ those people are fake, total phonies.”

Simpson was co-chairman of President Obama's deficit reduction committee, the Simpson-Bowles commission. The commission’s plan would lower 2013–2022 projected budget deficits by $6.3 trillion and tackle large structural budget issues.

The commission’s plan came up during Wednesday’s presidential debate when moderator Jim Lehrer asked the candidates if they supported Simpson-Bowles.

“I have my own plan,” Republican nominee Mitt Romney said. “It's not the same as Simpson-Bowles. But in my view, the president should have grabbed it. If you wanted to make some adjustments to it, take it, go to Congress, fight for it.”

“That's what we've done,” responded Obama, “made some adjustments to it, and we're putting it forward before Congress right now.”

The Obama administration has embraced parts of the plan, but not all. Bernstein said that the Obama administration’s proposed fiscal 2013 budget clearly reflected the influence of Simpson-Bowles.

“If you actually look at the budget that the president submitted in 2013, it takes a lot from Bowles-Simpson, maybe not enough for Simpson himself…but it takes a lot from Bowles-Simpson,” Bernstein said. “That budget has considerable Medicare and Medicaid savings in it…It actually cuts hundreds of billions from Medicare. So, there are a lot of Democrats who [are taken] way out of their comfort zone.”

Simpson, who feels the president hasn’t gone far enough and needs to talk more about reforms to Social Security, pleaded for politicians to get serious about fixing the debt and deficit.

“People are so sick and tired of BS and mush,” said Simpson. “They’re thirsting for truth, and somebody’s gotta tell them that.”

Mark Micheli is Special Projects Editor for Government Executive Media Group. He's the editor of Excellence in Government Online and contributes to GovExec, NextGov and Defense One. Previously, he worked on national security and emergency management issues with the US Treasury Department and the Department of Homeland Security. He's a graduate of the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs and studied at Drake University.

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.