Fiscal panel co-chair blasts critics as "jerks"
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Any fiscal plan that fails to tackle military spending, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security is "a sparrow's belch in the midst of a typhoon," a chairman of a presidential deficit-reduction commission said in an interview aired on Sunday.
Former Senator Alan Simpson, Republican co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, also trashed certain critics as "jerks" and compared the United States to "a milk cow with 300 million teats."
"If you have a career 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 a sparrow's belch in the midst of a typhoon," Simpson told CNN's "State of the Union."
President Barack Obama created the bipartisan, 18-member commission to address fiscal challenges centered around a deficit of more than $1.3 trillion, the highest since World War Two, and a record federal debt now topping $14 trillion.
A bold budget-balancing plan floated by Simpson -- long noted for earthy, sometimes off-color remarks -- and his fellow co-chairman, Erskine Bowles, fell short in December of the support needed from panel members to trigger congressional action.
"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," Simpson said. "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 and Bowles recommended Social Security benefit cuts via a higher retirement age, lower annual cost-of-living adjustments and a change in the way benefits are calculated.
"We're not talking about privatization," he said on CNN. "These jerks who keep dragging that up are lying. We never suggested that."
Simpson served from 1979 to 1997 as a Senator from Wyoming. He had apologized in August for comparing Social Security to "a milk cow with 310 million teats."
But in the interview he said he had merely misspoken.
"I meant to say that America was a milk cow with 300 million teats, and not just Social Security."
(Editing by Doina Chiacu)
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