Simpson and Bowles shoot straight about the debt crisis at Anderson lecture

October 2013

On Wednesday night, October 9, the co-chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, spoke about the current debt crisis facing our country at Millet Hall as part of the Farmer School of Business Jack R. Anderson Distinguished Lecture Series. Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, who are known in Washington as "the deficit-reduction duo," "wise men of Washington," and "deficit hawks," shared their expertise and gave frank advice about the economy and the issues facing the United States today.

Both recognized for their bipartisan leadership in Congress, Former Republican Senator Alan Simpson and Democratic Senator Erskine Bowles co-founded The Campaign to Fix the Debt, a non-partisan movement to put America on a better fiscal and economic path. Because of their bipartisan nature and candid views on politics, President Obama turned to these men to co-chair America's debt reduction commission.

This event comes at an important moment in our nation. With the government shutdown now into its second week, many are asking what can be done to solve the debt crisis. The two men cracked jokes in an effort to lighten the heavy subject matter for the audience, but the question remains: what can we do about this deficit? Bowles, the first to take the mic, clearly laid out five areas that need to be reformed: health care, the defense budget, Social Security, tax code, and compound interest, which are all measures outlined in the plan they presented to Congress in 2010.

When Simpson stepped up to the podium, he echoed Bowles' thoughts and expanded on a few of the concepts. He made it a point to mention that despite their different political affiliations, he and Bowles see eye-to-eye on nearly everything they spoke about Wednesday evening. "Pull up a chair," he said. "We don't do BS or mush, and we'll tell you how your country is."

And that country is in an economic crisis. Simpson laid out hard facts, such as that the United States borrows 40 billion dollars a day from other countries. We spend as much on defense as the next 17 countries on the list combined, and we spend twice as much on health care as any other developed nation but are ranked lower on outcomes like infant mortality rates. Both Simpson and Bowles stressed that Congress needs to work together to come up with a solution. It obviously can be done—these men are the proof of that.

Their advice to the young people in the room was simple: stay active. Be informed. Don't be "sheep" that accept everything. Ask the hard questions of their government officials about the debt crisis. "Ask these people running for public office what the hell they're doing about it," Simpson said.

The Simpson & Bowles event was just the latest in the Anderson Lecture Series hosted by the Farmer School of Business. These lectures strive to expose students and faculty to opinion leaders whose ideas will impact business and society and who have developed a national reputation for expertise related to the subject matter of their presentation. Recent lecturers include General Colin Powell, former secretary of state; Tom Friedman, author and New York Times columnist; Rudolph Giuliani, former mayor of New York City; Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union; and Sandra Day O'Connor, former Supreme Court justice.

The event was covered by several newspapers. To read the story in the Cincinnati Enquirer, go to: For the Journal News version, go to: