(WASHINGTON) — At a breakfast with reporters on Wednesday morning Erskine Bowles, co-chairman of bipartisan the White House fiscal commission known as “Simpson-Bowles” said he believes that there’s only a one-third probability of Congress reaching an agreement on the fiscal cliff before the Dec. 31 deadline.
“We have a real crisis, and I think it would be insane to reach the fiscal cliff, but I think that there’s only a one-third probably of Congress getting something done before December 31st,” Bowles, who served as chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, said. “You all know what it means if we don’t, if we go over the cliff — I think you’ll see economic growth slowed by as much as 3 to 5 percent, that’s obviously enough to put us back into a recession.”
Bowles’s long-term forecast for the prospect of any deal was a bit more optimistic.
“I’m certain we’ll get it done in the lame duck,” he said. “I think it’s about one-third that we’ll go over the cliff and people will come to their senses pretty quickly. But I think the real problem is if we go over the cliff and we don’t do anything immediately and that’s also a one-third probability.”
Bowles said he that he believes that the White House is “absolutely serious” about getting something done, but said he wished that they had started tackling the problem earlier. “If we go over the cliff, you’ve bet the country,” he said.
Bowles was joined by his debt reduction partner, former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson at the breakfast. Both men stressed that “everything” has to be on the table in negotiations. Simpson specifically called out Grover Norquist and the AARP as two road-blocks to compromise.
“Any government representative that doesn’t realize that he or she is an American first, instead of the guy raking it in…then you’ve got a real problem in America. And as long as we are in the thrall of Grover Norquist and the AARP it’s going to be a rough long haul,” he said.
The duo heads to Capitol Hill later Wednesday to meet with House Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans.
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