Bowles on going over fiscal cliff: ‘There’s no sense in betting the country’


Former White House Chief of Staff Erksine Bowles says he’s currently optimistic about Democrats and Republicans reaching a compromise by the end of the year to keep the country from going over the fiscal cliff.

Bowles told Chuck Todd on The Daily Rundown Monday morning that although he hadn’t been optimistic about early negotiations, President Obama’s flexibility and willingness to negotiate sent a positive signal.

“I think the president really wants to make sure the revenue is there. The only way is to raise rates, and then see if members of Congress are actually going to work to broaden the base and get rid of tax expenditures,” Bowles said.

He added that Speaker John Boehner, on the other hand, has been unwilling to reveal details of spending cuts he put on the table, despite the number of Republicans coming forward with compromises.

“You listen to the people around them who are their surrogates, and lots of Republicans are out there saying, ‘Hey, we can do rates,’ and Democrats like Senator Durbin, who’s very close to the president, saying, ‘Hey, look on Medicare…I wouldn’t like it, but I’d be willing to support means testing,’” Bowles said. “You’ve got good atmospherics out there.”

Bowles, of the 2010 Simpson-Bowles Plan, ducked Todd’s question about whether going over the fiscal cliff would produce little difference for the country’s current economic state, and if the results of going over would be “Simpson-Bowles on steroids.”

“We thought at the time the debt was too much, too quick. That amount of austerity would really lead to a recession. That’s why we had as our number one priority in our program that we didn’t want to do anything to disrupt a very fragile economic recovery, so we phased ours in over a longer period of time. I think that if you do that too much, and I think if you look at the economic forecast, you can see what would happen,” he said, citing slow growth and rising unemployment.

“There’s no sense in betting the country when we can reach such a reasonable compromise before the end of the year,” Bowles added.

Bowles on going over fiscal cliff: 'There's no sense in betting the country'