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Simpson: Falling off the 'fiscal cliff' would mean 'absolute chaos'

Thursday - 12/6/2012, 7:07am  ET

Simpson warns of fiscal cliff dangers

Former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., co-chairman, National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform

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Dick Uliano, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - One of Washington's most respected voices on the risks of the nation's $16 trillion debt, former Sen. Alan Simpson, says the White House and Congress should immediately "hit the rich" with higher taxes and "dig in" to federal entitlement spending to avoid falling off the "fiscal cliff."

The former co-chairman of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, known as the Simpson-Bowles Commission, warns that "the little guy" risks being hit the hardest.

"This business of the little guy, that's the guy that's gonna get hammered if you go off the cliff," Simpson says. "The rich guys will take care of themselves."

In a live interview on WTOP on Wednesday, the former senator from Wyoming upbraided both Republican and Democratic leaders, saying he and his former co- chairman, Democrat Erskine Bowles, are disturbed by talk from both party leaders that suggest they may be willing to see the talks fail and allow large automatic spending cuts and tax hikes to go into effect Jan. 1.

"That's like betting your country," Simpson says. "Whatever happened to people who were willing to give up the "R" and the "D" and vote as Americans?"

Simpson, who served in the U.S. Senate from 1978 to 1997, laments the lack of cooperation on Capitol Hill today.

"There's no trust," he says.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)