Face in the News: Simpson, Bowles, and Booker talk Fiscal Cliff
Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker said he was "absolutely considering running for governor," on "Face the Nation" Sunday. He said he'd make his decision within the next two weeks. Booker also hinted that a Senate run may be in his future--Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., will be 90 in 2014, raising the possibility of an open seat. "I'm really thinking about both offices right now and in which one can I better serve on the issues I'm passionate about and the things that I feel driven to contribute to."
Booker also weighed in on the importance of the "fiscal cliff" negotiations. "I think there is an immediate fear, there are a lot of people -- a couple thousand dollars which most Americans will see their taxes go up if we don't do something about this," said Booker. "For many families, not only in my city but across my state, a couple of thousand dollars can be the difference between making that mortgage payment, being able to afford food and making crucial investments during every month."
Booker maintained, however, that a balanced approach to the cliff, rather than drastic, across-the board cuts, was necessary, particularly in light of superstorm Sandy. "This is not a time to be penny-wise and pound-foolish," he said. "We just saw one of the worst natural disaster to come through New Jersey in a very long time and it really exposed how vulnerable and unprepared our infrastructure is in this country."
Also on the show: Deficit reduction duo former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., and former chief of staff for President Bill Clinton, Erskine Bowles, co-chairs of President Obama's Deficit Reduction Committee and co-founders of the Campaign to Fix the Debt, expressed optimism in Congress's ability to reach an agreement before a January 1, 2013 deadline.
Bowles said he felt "a little more encouraged than I would have been if you'd asked me about it a week ago." He said both sides have "started to tango now and you know anytime you've got two guys in there tangoing, you've got a chance to get it done."
Simpson echoed Bowles' sentiments, saying, "I'm an optimist. I think they'll do something." Still, Simpson warned, any movement on solving the debt crisis would have to be decisive, cautioning, "If they do small ball that won't work. The markets aren't going to listen to that."
From there, Simpson and Bowles turned to exactly what needed to be done for the financial negotiations to be successful. Simpson rebuffed fellow Republicans, saying "Well I think Erskine and I both agree, if anybody out there who's - quote, rich-- doesn't think their taxes go up, the drinks are on me. I'll cover it. Still, he advised, the primary concern in any "fiscal cliff" negotiation remains entitlement reform. "The bizarre thing is not touching the entitlements," said Simpson. "The entitlements are the engine on the train driving us to the cliff."
Bowles echoed his Republican colleague, calling for a return to Clinton-era tax rates, but cautioning, "That alone won't solve the problem. We have to cut spending. Health care in this country, we spend twice as much on health care as any other developed nation - whether it's a percent of GDP or it's on a per-capita basis."
The two closed by addressing a recent viral video, in which Simpson dances the popular "Gangnam Style" dance in an effort to energize youth voters to pay attention to the debt crisis. Said Simpson, "If humor will do that, I think that's great. Nobody has any humor in Washington. There ain't none left."
To hear more on the talks between the White House and Congress, including a "fiscal cliff" negotiations forecast, watch this Sunday's full roundtable discussion, featuring Michael Gerson of The Washington Post, TIME
Watch the full episode of "Face the Nation" above.
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