Former GOP Sen. Alan Simpson to Obama: Shoot your "sacred cow"

Democrat Erskine Bowles (R) and Republican Alan Simpson speak to reporters after their meeting with US President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington, DC, on April 14, 2011. JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

Alan Simpson, at left, and Erskine Bowles speak to reporters meeting with President Obama at the White House earlier this year.
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
ASPEN, Colo. -- Though President Obama invoked the name of Republican Alan Simpson in a press conference on the debt ceiling talks this week, the former senator and co-chairman of the president's fiscal reform committee challenged Mr. Obama to further cut entitlement spending.

"My question to Obama: show me your sacred cow," Simpson said in an interview with CBS News Thursday at the Aspen Institute and the Atlantic's annual Ideas Festival in Colorado.

"Every one of us stuck our finger down our throat and voted for something that hurt ourselves," Simpson said, naming oil and gas as his state of Wyoming's "sacred cow."

"If there's anybody in America who wants to solve this son of a b***h, show me your favorite sacred cow and shoot it," Simpson said.

Mr. Obama cited Simpson on Wednesday as an example of the administration's bipartisan approach to debt ceiling talks. Though he appointed Simpson and Democrat Erskine Bowles to the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, the president did not end up endorsing their report released last December.

"If Obama had embraced this, his libs [liberals] would have put him up the pike," Simpson told CBS News political analyst John Dickerson.

"Nobody likes to be ridiculed -- that's the one thing a politician can't stand," he added.

Regardless, Simpson maintains "faith" that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner or Vice President Joe Biden, who has led talks on Capitol Hill, will get a deal.

The Treasury Department has set a deadline of Aug. 2. "I have faith in Geithner not to cave," Simpson said. "And at that point, they're going to do something."

"If Biden can't come out of there with some plan... you're going to see an impairing or our full faith in credit," he said.

Simpson added that Republicans' biggest hang-up is a commitment to Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist -- nearly every Republican in Congress has signed Norquist's pledge to oppose any tax increases.

"If the country is enthralled to AARP and Grover Norquist, then we haven't got a prayer," Simpson said, calling Norquist "deceptive" and "irrelevant."

"Americans are immune to bulls**t," Simpson said. "They know that what they see in both parties right now is bull**t and they're going to do something."

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