Simpson, Bowles Divided on One Issue

Photograph by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Erskine Bowles, co-chairman of President Obama's deficit commission, right, and Alan Simpson, fellow co-chairman of the deficit commission, pose for a portrait at the Russell Senate office building in Washington.

For nearly three years Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles have been joined at the hip.

Simpson the Republican, former Wyoming Senator with the sharp wit, and Bowles the Democrat, former Clinton chief of staff with the investment banker pedigree, formed a political odd couple when President Obama called them back into public service as the co-chairs of his deficit commission.

Since then they have spoken with one voice on the need to put America’s fiscal house in order. They have agreed that any plan must include tax revenues and deep spending cuts, and they have taken aim at Democrats and Republicans in Washington for not getting the job done already.

But they don’t agree on everything.

When asked today on Bloomberg Television whether he would be open to serving as President Obama’s next Treasury Secretary, Bowles said he wants to return to his native North Carolina and wasn’t the best choice.

“I think there are a lot better candidates than I am,” Bowles said. “If he wants to move the Treasury to Charlotte, I’d be glad to think about it but otherwise I am going home.”

Simpson was quick to disagree.

“He would be the best one that ever did anything in that arena because he knows the numbers,” Simpson said.

“He is a sensitive, wise, savvy guy with guts and courage and patriotism. They could stack them all end on end all the way back to Alexander Hamilton and not find a guy as good as this.”

Bowles’ response: “I thought you were my friend.”


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