When we started working on the president's commission, we figured we were doing it for our grandkids, but as we worked on it more, it became clear we weren't doing it for our grandkids, or even our kids, but for ourselves," said Erskine Bowles, the former White House chief of staff for President Bill Clinton, who is also known to dealmakers as the founder of boutique investment bank Bowles Hollowell Conner & Co. (BHC), in a keynote address at ACG InterGrowth 2013 in Orlando, Fla. "We came to understand that if we can't get politicians on the right and the left to pull together rather than apart, we'll face the most predictable economic crisis in history," continued Bowles. "It's also the most avoidable economic crisis in history. But we've got to act." The keynote was co-delivered by former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.). Together, the so-called "two wise men with a plan" co-chair the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, a bipartisan commission that issued a plan two years ago for trimming the nation's deficit by $4 trillion over the following decade.
On the eve of InterGrowth, Simpson and Bowles made a fresh proposal to reduce the deficit by $2.5 trillion through 2023, "replacing the immediate, mindless cuts of the sequester with smarter, more gradual deficit reduction that would avoid disrupting a fragile economic recovery while putting the debt on a clear downward path relative to the economy over the next 10 years and beyond," they wrote in an op-ed piece published in the Washington Post. The bipartisan approach, they say, "would achieve this deficit reduction while respecting the principles and priorities of both parties." (Watch the video below.)