The Deficit Commission (formally known as the National Commission of Fiscal Responsibility and Reform) has been packed with Social Security looters. The eighteen member commission–ten Democrats and eight Republicans–plans to report its recommendations to Congress after the midterm elections, but it can only issue recommendations if fourteen of the members agree on what those should be. Get fourteen out of eighteen members to agree on cuts? This oughta be a cinch to stymie. But not if enough of the Democrats fall into the Max Baucus/Kent Conrad Blue Dog category–and yes, thanks to Harry Reid, they’re both on the commission.
The co-chairs are Alan Simpson, retired Republican senator from Wyoming, and Erskine Bowles, who served as Clinton’s Chief of Staff. Both are gunning to gut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Both were appointed by President Obama. Granted that two of Obama’s six appointees had to be Republicans, still he didn’t have to pick a Republican co-chair like Simpson, who has been pushing for back-door benefit cuts to Social Security since the nineties. You’ve likely already heard Simpson’s comment that Social Security is a “milk cow with 310 million tits.” NOW, trying to get Simpson booted off the commission, sent him 1500 baby bottle nipples with the message “tits for an ass.”
Bowles is much lower profile, but no less dangerous.
Described by Business Week in 1998 as “Corporate America’s Friend in the White House,” Bowles is president of the University of North Carolina and a venture capitalist with close ties to Wall Street. He sits on the board of Morgan Stanley and General Motors ….
He and his wife, Crandall, are members of the Business Council, a prestigious association of major CEOs. And when he was Clinton’s Chief of Staff, he “helped negotiate a secret pact with Newt Gingrich in late 1997 to unite behind the commission’s proposals to raise the Social Security retirement age and begin privatization.”
Bowles is Obama’s pick for Democratic co-chair? “Corporate America’s friend” is our Democratic president’s choice? Provide your own expletive for that one.
It’s 2005 redux, and thanks to the “Democrats” in power, citizens will have to fight this Social Security brawl with bare knuckles. Judith Parker, a St. Louis progressive activist, has both fists cocked. She works for the Missouri Alliance for Retired Americans, one of the member groups of a coalition opposing what the Deficit Commission hopes to ram through Congress. She tells me that to stop the Commission from issuing recommendations to gut these crucial programs, her coalition needs to change one Commission member’s mind. (As I said, the Commission can only make recommendations if 14 of its 18 members agree. Right now, only four members oppose cuts to the social safety net. Five nay votes are necessary.)
Those nay votes would preserve benefits for Missourians who receive Social Security: nearly one out of every five of us. That’s more than a million people in this state alone.
Penalizing those 1,100,000 Missourians and the other Missourians who will someday need those benefits is unjust:
Social Security has not contributed one dime to our nation’s deficit. The Social Security Trust Fund was built up in preparation for the baby boomers’ retirement. In fact, the annual surpluses in Social Security have been used for years to help balance the federal budget.
Today Social Security is owed $2.6 trillion previously loaned to the federal government to cover the cost of other programs. But budget hawks are arguing that there is not enough money to pay back this loan to Social Security, so their answer is to cut Social Security benefits instead.
Working Americans of all ages have contributed money to Social Security and that money belongs to them, not the government. That money is dedicated to paying promised benefits. Social Security should not be used as a piggy bank to pay for bad fiscal decisions of the past.
Cutting Social Security benefits would be akin to telling a buddy who loaned you his last thousand bucks that you not only aren’t going to pay it back, but that it’s his fault you blew it at the casino.
Furthermore, consider that:
Social Security lifts out of poverty 314,000 Missouri residents aged 65 and older. Without Social Security, the elderly poverty rate would increase from 1 out of 15 (6.8 percent) to nearly half (47.5 percent) of all residents.
So the Deficit Commission says, ‘How’s about we arrange it, in this moribund job market, so that people have to work till they’re seventy? It’ll be fun to see how many of them can even hold onto a job that long.’ Definitely. And don’t forget that setting up more competition for the already all too scarce job openings, means less cash in the hands of consumers. Think extended recession.
If the Deficit Commission isn’t worried about being fair to those who’ve put their money in, maybe the members could give a thought to the (im)practical consequences of what they’re considering.
Look, it’s simple. Make the wealthy pay social security taxes on their whole income, not just the first $106,800 per individual. And then quit borrowing from the trust fund. That’s my two sentence recommendation.
Oh, and one more. Get Alan Simpson, Max Baucus and Kent Conrad the hell out of there.
… And still another: if you’d like to do something besides cuss about it all, call commission member Dick Durbin (1-202-224-2152). Something tells me he could use a nudge in the right direction.