The Norman Transcript

Education

October 9, 2012

Bowles, Simpson emphasize sacrifice

NORMAN — Two speakers give no-nonsense look at U.S. financial crisis

Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, presidentially appointed co-chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, gave President’s Associates guests a no-nonsense look at America’s financial crisis and the necessary actions to mitigate it Monday evening.

As authors of a bipartisan-supported plan reducing the nation’s deficits by $4 trillion over the next decade, Bowles’ and Simpson’s perspective is a widely cited reference point, encompassing both the harsh realities facing the nation and the hope that they can be overcome.

“Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson were given a thankless task, and we’re lucky to have such people in our society and in our presence tonight,” OU President David Boren said.

Speaking to a packed ballroom in the University of Oklahoma Memorial Union, Bowles and Simpson drew as many laughs with their frank humor as gasps for the grim facts and statistics, emphasizing one necessity above all others: sacrifice.

“Don’t let politicians tell you we can ‘grow’ out of this,” Bowles said. “We can’t cut our way out, and we can’t just raise taxes. There must be shared sacrifice from everyone.”

Bipartisan gridlock and poor leadership were issues raised, but Bowles’ brief address stuck to the five principal challenges to fiscal stability: health care spending, defense spending, U.S. tax code, Social Security and compound interest.

Calling the current tax code “ludicrous,” “anti-global” and “anti-competitive,” Bowles condemned back-door spending and advocated for a slimmer defense budget, saying the U.S. “can’t afford to be the world police.”

“When (the commission) sat down to look at the numbers (in 2010), we were thinking to plan for our grandchildren’s futures, but the more we looked at it, the more we realized this is for us, right now,” Bowles said. “Our country faces the most predictable economic crisis in history, and it’s also the most avoidable. Our deficit is like a cancer, killing this country from within.”

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