Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles said on CBS' "Face the Nation" failure to put together a comprehensive deal on taxes and spending by the end of the month would derail the U.S. economy and deliver a severe blow to financial markets and the middle class.
"I think it would be disastrous for the country," said Bowles, who was White House chief of staff for President Clinton. "You can look at the forecast that we have; economic growth would slow by 4 percent. That, by definition, puts you back into recession when you're only growing by 2 percent. About 2 million people would lose their jobs. Unemployment would go to 9 percent."
Simpson, a former Republican U.S. senator, said he was disturbed by the degeneration of the debate into pure political calculations over which party would benefit the most by allowing the nation to plunge over the cliff. "There is something terribly bizarre and juvenile about that to think your party comes ahead of your country," he said.
Both men urged Americans, especially the younger generation, to make their views known in Washington before they are drowned out by special interest groups that will be dominating the media to protect their interests.
"Everybody is in the game," Simpson said. "We'll be savaged this next month with full-page ads."
The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform was founded in 2010 by President Obama to make recommendations to improve U.S. fiscal policy.