September 10, 2012

Fiscal reformer views King as 'bridge'

Erskine Bowles says that the independent would help cut through partisanship that stymies action on the debt.

By John Richardson
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Erskine Bowles, left, former President Clinton’s chief of staff and co-chairman of the federal panel on fiscal responsibility, speaks at a campaign event for Angus King, right, a U.S. Senate candidate, at the University of Southern Maine in Portland on Sunday.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer


TO READ the Simpson-Bowles report and learn more about the debt-reduction commission, go to:

TO WATCH a video of the Angus King event with Erskine Bowles go to:

Bowles said there are parts he doesn't like, too, but that what's needed is compromise around the framework. King could be a bridge in the Senate between Republicans who won't accept tax increases and Democrats who won't accept spending cuts.

"Those guys in the middle, four or five on either side, are going to have all the power and he's going to be one of them," Bowles said. "I think just one guy can make a big difference."

Bowles' appearance with King drew criticism from the spokesman for Republican Senate candidate Charlie Summers, who again highlighted the spending growth under King and the fiscal struggle Maine faced when he left office in 2003.

"For Angus to sit alongside Erskine Bowles and masquerade as being tough on the national debt is the height of hypocrisy," said Drew Brandewie, spokesman for Summers.

Summers, Maine's secretary of state, said in a written statement last week that reducing the debt is a priority and that he supports "the broad concepts" of Simpson-Bowles. However, while he would work to close tax loopholes, Summers said he would stick by a pledge to oppose any tax increases.

"I would be an active participant in any bipartisan group working towards a large debt-reduction package, but I don't subscribe to the theory that such a groundbreaking effort could only be achieved by raising taxes," Summers said.

King's Democratic rival, state Sen. Cynthia Dill, said in a written statement that Congress needs to pass a debt-reduction plan, but that the Simpson-Bowles version is too heavy on cutting programs such as Social Security that serve working families.

"The so-called austerity measures that are proposed are too Darwinian in nature. The people at the top keep getting breaks; the people at the bottom are left behind."

Summers and Dill both disagreed that their respective parties are preventing a solution to the debt problem.

Summers said Maine senators have shown they can be strong leaders without having to abandon their party. And Dill blamed Republicans for blocking Obama's debt-reduction plan.

Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at:

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