Meet the Man Who Perversely Argues for Cutting Social Security Benefits to "Take Care of the Lesser People in Society"
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Video at the bottom of the article.
Each time the Catfood Commission -- aka Obama's Budget Deficit Reduction Commission -- holds its secret meetings, Alex Lawson of Social Security Works has been outside with his camera, shooting video of the closed front door as FDL runs a live stream on our front page. The Washington Post wrote it up recently. As committee members go in and out of the room Alex asks them questions when he can and yesterday he had an exchange with Alan Simpson that was…well, extraordinary.
Simpson is apparently a graduate of the Bobby Etheridge school of charm. Alex Lawson was incredibly respectful and polite as the crankly Simpson berated, interrupted and cussed him. Simpson has been a long-time supporter of rolling back the New Deal, and when asked about cuts he would recommend to the President and Congress on CNBC, Simpson said “We are going to stick to the big three,” meaning Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. His sentiments haven’t changed.
CJR’s Trudy Lieberman recently ran down Simpson’s history of delicate statements on the subject of Social Security. He is equally decorous on camera with Alex, who clearly knows a great deal more about the subject than he does. Simpson starts from the premise that the Treasury will default on the bonds issued to the Social Security trust fund, because all the best people apparently know that it’s better to default on America’s senior citizens and plunge them into poverty than it is to default on, say, the Chinese.
Despite Simpson’s assertions, raising the retirement age to 70 IS a benefit cut. It would put an estimated 1.5 million senior citizens into poverty. After two years of watching billions of dollars in taxpayer money being paid out to Wall Street CEOs in lavish bonuses while the White House breaks every promise they’ve made to rein them in, that takes a fat load of nerve.
The commission is also looking into cutting Medicare benefits, because the deal guaranteeing no-bid Medicare contracts to the pharmaceutical industry by both Republicans and Democrats can’t possibly be abrogated. The committee claims it’s independent, but it’s not THAT independent. So, old people, too bad for you.
Erskine Bowles has returned to run the same play he ran during the Clinton administration, when he negotiated the secret deal between Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich to cut Social Security benefits. Despite warnings from both John Boehner and John Conyers that the commission will report its recommendations to a lame duck Congress who could pass it before the end of the term. Both Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have promised to bring the commission’s proposals up for votes.
In the absence of any transparency coming from the committee about what transpires in its secret meetings, Simpson’s comments to Alex are the best insight we have into what is being discussed there.
Bottom line: bon apetite, Grandma!
ALAN SIMPSON: We’re really working on solvency… the key is solvency
ALEX LAWSON: What about adequacy? Are you focusing on adequacy as well?
SIMPSON: Where do you come up with all the crap you come up with?
SIMPSON: We’re trying to take care of the lesser people in society and do that in a way without getting into all the flash words you love dig up, like cutting Social Security, which is bullshit. We’re not cutting anything, we’re trying to make it solvent.
SIMPSON: It’ll go broke in the year 2037.
LAWSON: What do you mean by ‘broke’? Do you mean the surplus will go out and then it will only be able to pay 75% of its benefits?