Bowles, left, and Simpson have withstood the withering criticisms of their budget blueprint and still hold up, particularly in the media, as standard-bearers of bipartisanship.
“I think a balanced approach is a good starting point, and that’s what we’ve got to have. What we put out was a balanced approach, but it’s only one plan. There are lots of ways to get there,” he said. “I think if you ask anybody, from the minority leader to the speaker, if there are more people that favor the kind of balanced approach that we presented, they say, ‘Yes.’”
The problem remains, however, that while most lawmakers call for a balanced deal, they back away at the mention of specifics, said Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt.
“Their plan has lots to criticize, but it has the one structural approach that everyone knows ultimately will be necessary,” he said. “The challenge now is to get specific.”
Indeed, Bowles said Wednesday after meetings that he sees no give from Democrats in the area of entitlement reform and similarly none from Republicans in raising tax rates.
Still, Cooper said the chances that a Simpson-Bowles type of plan can pass have “gone up dramatically,” saying “the whole world has changed” since he and Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, R-Ohio, brought the budget to the floor last year.
“Simpson and Bowles were never wedded to every detail of their plan,” he said. “For the rest of us, it’s one of the few bipartisan ways to solve the problem.”
Correction, Nov. 28
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated how Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., voted on a budget package modeled after the Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction package. Welch did not vote for the package.