Sen. Simpson takes aim at budget deficit

Thursday, April 8, 2010

While admitting he'll catch heat from the likes of Rush Limbaugh -- whom he calls a pretty good entertainer -- former Sen. Alan Simpson is heading back to Washington to serve on President Barack Obama's commission to find ways to bring down the federal debt.

The rough-edged Wyomingite served in the Senate from 1979 to 1997, and was known as a fiscal conservative who wouldn't always go along with tax cuts as well as a pro-choice Republican.

He makes some eye-opening points in this week's interview with Newsweek's Weston Kosova.

For instance, he points out that our major entitlement programs -- Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security -- will use up all the taxes the federal government collects this year.

"And to do the rest of governing, we'll have to borrow, including for massive things like defense, homeland security, education," he told the magazine.

"Those will be paid or by shaking a tin cup in front of the world. And China will probably be throwing more chips in the tin cup than any other country, just waiting patiently for us to expire under the debt," he said.

If Simpson is correct, that means everything that comes out of Washington other than the aforementioned programs -- stimulus funding and grants of all types -- is essentially a credit card receipt with our children and grandchildren's name on it.

That doesn't even take the massive health care reform package into account.

Could China have the last laugh? If the fate of the Soviet Union is any guide, it could.

President Ronald Reagan helped bring down the "Evil Empire" in part by embarking on a military buildup that prompted the USSR to spend itself into oblivion.

China could easily do the same to us, using profits from U.S. consumer spending at big-box stores. It's already made noises about replacing the dollar with some other unit of international exchange.

Let's hope Simpson and others on the presidential commission are successful in persuading Washington to cut up its credit card.

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