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Bowles offers help on ‘fiscal cliff’ negotiations

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Democrat Erskine Bowles, one of the authors of the highly praised deficit-reduction plan drafted by President Obama’s fiscal commission, has offered to assist the White House and congressional leaders in negotiations to avert the year-end “fiscal cliff.”

“I will help anyone — Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative — find a reasonable , responsible deal,” Bowles said by e-mail Tuesday. “As I said in the op-ed in [the Washington Post], I believe going over the cliff involves an unnecessary and very risky bet of the country. That to me is crazy.”

Bowles was responding to rumors that he had offered to help the White House cut a deal to avoid the coming crisis. Without congressional action, nearly $500 billion in tax hikes and automatic budget cuts will take effect in January, likely triggering a new recession.

Unlike some key White House negotiators, such as chief of staff Jacob J. Lew, Bowles is trusted and respected by Republican leaders for his work on the fiscal commission, which was co-chaired by former Republican senator Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming.

Bowles has also kept a hand in talks among a bipartisan group of senators who have pressed for nearly two years to bring the Bowles-Simpson recommendations to a vote in the Senate.

There was no immediate word from the White House or the Hill on whether Bowles services would be needed.

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