Alan Simpson, the former Republican senator who is co-chairing President Obama’s fiscal commission, on Wednesday said the Tea Party is being driven by an accurate understanding of the country’s fiscal crisis.
“In my travels the American people know something is terribly terribly wrong,” Simpson said. “They’ll say, ‘Hey, what’s wrong with our country?'”
“And that’s why these organizations spring up, the Tea Party, these other things, the hostility,” he said.
Simpson was speaking at the beginning of a day long summit in Washington on the country’s fiscal future sponsored by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. He appeared with fellow commission co-chair Erskine Bowles, former White House chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, who was also speaking at the event.
CBS Correspondent Lesley Stahl, who moderated the discussion with Simpson and Bowles, expressed surprise at Simpson’s praise for the Tea Party.
“Yeah, but they’re ‘no new taxes’ organizations. They’re ‘don’t touch my social security’ organizations,” Stahl said.
Simpson responded: “I know but they know that something is desperately wrong in America. That’s the key.”
“That’s what we’re trying to tell people. Something is terribly terribly wrong in this country, a dysfunctional Congress,” he said.
Bowles said that “if we don’t do something about it, we’re going to be a second rate power before you know it.”