Former President Bill Clinton slammed both Democrats and Republicans for being so caught up in their differences that they failed to recognize opportunities to agree on common-sense ways to reduce the budget deficit through the supercommittee process.
Speaking in an exclusive Newsmax.TV interview about his new book, “Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy,”
Clinton said both sides in the recent supercommittee standoff may have concluded that they would be better off waiting until after the election to find areas of agreement.
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"Now, in my book," he said, "I outlined a whole bunch of cuts they could make in that budget, and savings they could achieve based on a 1,000-plus page report by the Government Accounting Office that outlines duplicative programs and things of that kind. But if you do it all, you could maybe get up to a $100 billion a year, if you included collecting a third of the taxes that are owed today but not paid.”
However, he noted that he is concerned that “the default position which allows the Republicans to hold firm on taxes, and the Democrats to hold firm on Social Security and Medicare, ignores that there are some options that would not be particularly painful for either side."
For example, Clinton said one proposal on Social Security that the Simpson-Bowles Commission made would improve benefits for low-income elderly folks while saving $200 billion over 10 years. "So I'm worried that both sides have retreated," he told Newsmax.
Clinton, who balanced the budget after a head-on collision with fiscal hawks and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, did designate some areas that should not be cut.
He described discretionary spending, which is only 15 percent of the total budget, as "our future." Cutting those programs would hurt Americans down the road, he said.
He also contended that it is a mistake to cut foreign aid, which is only 1 percent of the budget.
"That's why Bob Gates, who was President Bush's secretary of defense,
pleaded with the Congress not to cut it, because he said, 'Making more
friends and fewer enemies is always cheaper than going to war.' And that needs to be part of our national security spending," Clinton said.
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