Just the Facts: Commission Co-Chairman Erskine Bowles

May 17, 2010


Erskine Bowles has been the president of the University of North Carolina since January 2006. From 1996 to 1998 he served as White House Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton. Prior to that, he was White House deputy chief of staff and as head of the Small Business Administration.  Bowles began his career in finance and held a number of positions in the financial industry before entering public service.

While at the White House Bowles worked on the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, which slowed the growth of Medicare and raised cigarette taxes in an effort to close the budget deficit by 2002.

Bowles ran for the Senate in 2002 and in 2004. Bowles’ campaign platform included proposals to cut the deficit through a mixture of tax increases and spending cuts.

Here are some of Bowles’ recent statements about the deficit commission and the solutions it should consider:

On What Could Happen If Debt Isn’t Brought Under Control: “Not just inflation but hyperinflation. It could be really bad. That’s why we’ve got to step up, put our big boy pants on, and really go after this and go after it hard.” (CNN’s “The Situation Room,” 2/18/10)

On Whether The Commission Would Recommend Raising Taxes On American Families Earning Less Than $250,000: “What I feel bound by is the president looked Senator Simpson and me in the eye and he said, everything is on the table. So we are going to look at every single way to right this fiscal ship, whether it’s cutting those sacred cows that you just talked about, or raising revenue. We have to have everything on the table.” (Fox News’ “Fox News Sunday,” 4/25/10)

On Spending Cuts Versus Tax Increases: “I think we have to go after everything. Everything has to be on the table, whether it’s revenue or spending. I personally would like to go after spending first.” (Fox News’ “Fox News Sunday,” 4/25/10)

Bowles Would Spend Money Used Now To Pay Interest On The Debt: “[I] can tell you, if you just think about the interest on the national debt over the next 10 years, it’s going to increase by $650 billion. That’s $650 billion we could spend on innovation, on research, on education.” (PBS’ “Newshour with Jim Lehrer,” 2/18/10)

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