Former Sen. Alan Simpson has arguably done more to address our fiscal problems than anyone else in the last three years. He was co-chairman of the president’s deficit-reduction committee, commonly known as the Simpson-Bowles budget plan. He’s a good man on a good mission.
But he doesn’t always get it right. Here’s Simpson last week on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart talking about the fiscal cliff:
There’s a group out there that doesn’t give a damn about Republicans or Democrats or the president, and it’s the people we owe $16 trillion to. Half of that is owned by private people — people in New York or Cody, Wyoming. The other half is owned by feds, and half of that is owned by China.
Time out. I like you, Alan, but let’s get the facts right.
China doesn’t own a quarter of our debt. It doesn’t even own 10%. When the latest data comes out, it probably won’t even be the largest foreign creditor. (That title will go to Japan.) China has actually been a net seller of Treasuries for almost two years.