President Barack Obama “walked away” from his bipartisan U.S. deficit-cutting commission’s plan “because he knew he’d be torn to bits,” said former Republican Senator Alan Simpson, who was co-chairman of the panel.Obama is “terrified” of the deficit issue, Simpson said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend. “He didn’t deal with it” in his annual State of the Union address to Congress on Jan. 24.Jamie Smith, a White House spokeswoman, declined to comment.Simpson also said the Republican presidential candidates are “almost like robots” in their aversion to any taxes as a way to help shrink the government’s $1.3 trillion deficit.The former Wyoming lawmaker saved his sharpest criticism for Newt Gingrich, who served as House speaker during the end of Simpson’s 18 years in office.“He caused us more pain,” Simpson, 80, said. “He was Newt first, Republicans second, country third.”Simpson headed Obama’s commission along with Erskine Bowles, a White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton. The $3.9 trillion, 10-year Simpson-Bowles plan included about $2.2 trillion in spending cuts, $673 billion in reduced interest payments and $1 trillion in tax increases.Republican and Democratic lawmakers rejected it because of its mix of taxes and cuts in entitlement programs.
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