Simpson, 81, and Bowles, 67, became unlikely celebrities after failing to carry off one of President Obama’s more abitious first term endeavors. In 2009 he appointed them to lead his National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, a bipartisan group that was supposed to produce a “grand bargain” both parties could endorse to bring the country’s long-term spending and revenue into alignment.
The plan went nowhere. Rather than shelve it, the co-chairmen hit the road. Today, Simpson and Bowles circulate in a gilded world of financial conferences, corporate speeches, and television studios, propounding their solution to the country’s fiscal predicament. Audiences get an earful about Washington profligacy, the political system’s cowardice, and the need to take an ax to a whole array of supposedly sacrosanct programs. But mostly they’re told that without a long-overdue budget reckoning America is headed for disaster.
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