DENVER-“If you can’t compromise, you shouldn’t be in Congress. And you shouldn’t get married.”

So said Alan Simpson, former US senator and co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. He was speaking to a packed house at the ULI Fall Conference here. He was blunt, he was funny and he spared neither Republican nor Democrat in his frank assessment of the condition we’re in. For instance: “Barack Obama is the highest-spending president we’ve had,” Simpson said. But Number 2 was George W. Bush.”

In short form Simpson said you can cut from Defense, such as healthcare systems that the public doesn’t know about that are offered to Defense workers separate from those the public can access. Healthcare and social security can be tweaked, either to reduce waste or put the money to sensible use within the system.

“But we owe $16 trillion. We can’t grow our way out of that and we can’t tax our way out of that. If you hear anyone say that we can fix” this fiscal mess “without touching Medicare, Medicaid and Defense, they’re fakes,” he said. But stating the truth before an election is simply campaign suicide. “So they do the dance.”

The session also included remarks from Denver mayor Michael B. Hancock, who seemed not to have a fiscal care in the world as he praised Denver, which has been recognized as the #1 Convention City in the World, and noted that some 34 million square feet of new space will be built in the Mile High City as projects like its massive Aerotropolis addition to the Denver Airport comes out of the ground. In fact, he noted that the acreage alone—already being developed—can house the footprints of LAX and O’Hare.

According to the Denver Post, “Hancock has called the 22-mile Interstate 70 corridor between DIA and downtown an ‘economic development diamond in the rough,’ and he wants to make sure that development around the new rail stops are well-planned.”