Tag: Alan Simpson

Who Will Protect the Vulnerable?

Adapted from Docudharma

The Jewish philosopher Rabbi Hillel asked, “If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?”

With our social safety net, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, under attack from the plutocrats who run our government, we need to ask all our representatives these questions.

Former Senator Alan Simpson (R-UT)

I get so damn sick and tired of listening to the little guy, the vulnerable, the veteran – I am a veteran, and the seniors and this and this and this and the meanwhile this country is headed for second-class status while everybody just babbles into the vapor.

I think we are sick and tired of hearing from Mr. Simpson.

In this excellent article at AMERICAblog, our friend Gaius Publius, offers not just an explanation of why he believes Obama will try cut Social Security but action we need to take:

Action opportunity

Folks, this is not over. The campaign still has about a month to run. Obama can take this issue off the table any time he want to. And if he doesn’t want to do that voluntarily, you can help him. How? Ask him point-blank:

   Are you planning any cuts to Social Security benefits? If so, which ones?

Or, if you want to go for more positive framing:

   Mr. Obama, you’ve said you want to strengthen Social Security. The electorate is solidly behind you but they’re nervous about cuts. To reassure the public and clarify your differences with Romney-Ryan, will you promise to veto any bill that contains any cuts whatsoever to Social Security benefits, no matter what else the bill contains?

Journalists, you can ask either question any time you like – you don’t need permission. The public would love to hear the answer from the candidate’s mouth. You have column inches and access; that and boldness is all you need.

Readers, you too can ask these questions – you don’t need permission either. Can you get into an Obama event? Then go. Bring your friends. (And your cell-phone cameras.) Help Obama not sink the Democratic Party. Help Obama re-clarify his own position. Help Obama race from waffling language like the plague – which he will certainly do if asked these questions often enough in public enough places. With cameras.

You can also urge your senator to sign Senator Sanders letter (pdf) swearing not to support any cuts to Social Security as part of a deficit reduction package (pdf). The letter has 29 signatures and needs 41. This action is also urgent.

Debate moderators, you too can ask these questions – though I don’t know whether the terms of your contract with the campaign-controlled debate commission requires you to get permission or not. It’s certainly true that just like Romney, Obama must also list the program cuts he would make – including cuts to Social Security. Before the election. [..]

And that’s not nothing. Guarding the progressive frontier; if you’re a progressive, that’s the job. Joe Sudbay did it by himself, and so can you. Always remember, you don’t need permission to act.

Who will protect the vulnerable? We will.

The Democratic Gutting of the Social Safety Net

It will be a Democratic Congress and President that will destroy the social safety. Ryan Grimm at Huffington Post reports that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi supports the Simpson-Bowles plan:

During a recent press conference, and again during an interview with Charlie Rose, the California Congresswoman said that she would support what’s known as the Simpson-Bowles plan, a budget proposal that was created by the co-chairs of a fiscal commission set up by President Obama (dubbed the “Catfood Commission” by progressives). The plan was rejected by members of the commission, failing to win the necessary votes to move to a vote in Congress. Yet the co-chairs — former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming and Morgan Stanley director Erskin Bowles, a Democrat — have worked recently to revive it, and the political class speaks of it as if it passed and is an official recommendation of the commission.

At the end of March, a version of the Simpson-Bowles plan was given a vote on the House floor. It was annihilated, 382-38, with Pelosi and most Democrats voting against it.

But Pelosi, the day after the vote, said that she could still support the plan if it stuck more closely to the original version put out by Simpson and Bowles. “I felt fully ready to vote for that myself, thought it was not even a controversial thing … When we had our briefing with our caucus members, people felt pretty ready to vote for it. Until we saw it in print,” she said. “It was more a caricature of Simpson Bowles, and that’s why it didn’t pass. If it were actually Simpson-Bowles, I would have voted for it.”

Yet when the Simpson-Bowles plan had been originally unveiled, Pelosi called it “simply unacceptable.”

In early April, Pelosi was asked about her initial opposition. “My problem with it was what it did as far as Social Security is concerned. Apart from that we said, there’s a lot to work with,” she told Charlie Rose. “It was a good framework in terms of revenue and in terms of cuts, in terms of defense spending and the rest. It was very bold.”

The Simpson-Bowles plan is a mix of tax increases and spending cuts that trims four trillion dollars off the deficit in ten years. Its cuts to social spending and entitlement programs made it “simply unacceptable” to the Democrats’ liberal base almost as soon as it was announced. Pelosi’s rhetorical retreat from that hard-line position has progressives worried they’ll have nobody left to defend the social safety net, even Medicare and Social Security.

Progressives need to be really worried, as Gaius Publius at AMERICAblog tells us the “push is on” to “compromise” on Social Security:

All you need to know? Pete Peterson lives for one reason only – to kill off Social Security. Every crazed billionaire has a project. This is his. (No exaggeration; check the link. It’s an excellent William Greider piece.)

From the “Summit” invite (but click fast; pages that name these names disappear fast at the “Summit” website). The underscoring below is mine:


Media Advisory


  Participants to include President Bill Clinton, Speaker of the House John Boehner, Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, Senator Rob Portman, Congressman Paul Ryan, Congressman Chris Van Hollen, and National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform Co-Chair Alan Simpson

   NEW YORK (May 08, 2012) – Against the backdrop of the upcoming elections, and with a series of key fiscal deadlines approaching at the end of the year, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s 2012 Fiscal Summit: America’s Case for Action will feature the nation’s leading experts and elected officials in discussions about the fiscal, economic, and political crossroads facing the country. …

   This year’s summit will explore opportunities for compromise and establish the urgent need for action on these challenges, as well as highlight the voices of engaged citizens from across the country. The 2012 Fiscal Summit will work to generate the momentum necessary to motivate lawmakers to take action essential to preserving the American Dream.

Two videos that Gaius featured are significant because as he points out President Barack Obama is on the same page Bill Clinton, Paul Ryan and Pete Peterson.

5-25-2011 Leaked cell phone footage of Bill Clinton cozying up to Paul Ryan. The day after the stunning upset in the special congressional election in upstate New York, Rep. Paul Ryan is a man under fire.

Barack Obama’s speech on April 5, 2006 at the launch of The Brookings Institute’s Hamilton Project where Obama says that “most of us are strong free traders” and praises the goals of the Hamilton Project.

This is the “real grand bargain”

The real Grand Bargain isn’t between the Dems and Republicans. It’s between both of them and you. They’re offering to sell out your children’s Social Security, in exchange for letting you keep your own.

Send Nancy a message. Sign the petition and tell her: Draw a line in the sand on cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits

Does the Obama Administration take Sexism and Women’s Votes Seriously?

That has been brought into question by the White House decision to accept Alan Simpson’s “apology” for his offensive ans sexist letter to Ashley Carson of the Older Women’s League. Donna L. Wagner, President of the Older Women’s League, sent a letter to President Barack Obama calling for Mr. Simpson to be “canned” and questioning the Obama Administration’s stand on sexism and sexual discrimination.

OWL’s members believe that choosing to keep Mr. Simpson as your co-chair sends a message that your Administration does not take sexism seriously and also that you are not concerned about Mr. Simpson’s views regarding Social Security. There are a number of occasions where racial discrimination appeared both within government and elsewhere, and where your Administration acted swiftly and appropriately to correct wrongdoing. Why is one form of discrimination any different from another?

As Jane Hamsher says, “Ouch”.

This is looking like a pattern of sexism in this White House. While the President has several women in his cabinet, only Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, can really be considered a close advisor with daily contact and immediate access. Yes, he has successfully appointed two women to the Supreme Court neither is really a liberal nor will be counsel to Mr. Obama.

Dawn Johnsen’s nomination, a more than qualified lawyer to head the Office of Legal Council, was left to languish for 14 months before she withdrew her name in frustration. The administration opined that her appointment was held up by holds from Republican and Blue Dog Senators but when Mr. Obama proceeded to make several recess appointments, Ms. Johnsen was not among them. Why?

Then there is that little matter of the President’s Economic Advisor, Larry Summers and his Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner and that now has the appearance of an “Old Boys Club”. Summers’ history of sexism is well known and the primary reason he was forced to resign as President of Harvard. The resignation of Christina Romer from the Council after her sage advice about the stimulus package size was completely eliminated from the report to the President, her access to the Oval office limited, as well as, testy clashes with Summers, is consistent with Mr. Summers’ past behavior towards women. Mr. Geithner doesn’t fare much better. His condescending exchanges with Elizabeth Warren during hearings by the Congressional Oversight Panel on TARP, are revealing in his contemptuous tone.

As has been pointed out by others this was not Timothy Geithner’s “first clash with women in power”.

One of his first acts in the role of Treasury Secretary was to attempt to push out FDIC Chairwoman Shelia Bair. As Rep. Barney Frank observed: “I think part of the problem now, to be honest, is Sheila Bair has annoyed the ‘old boys’ club…we have several regulators up in the tree house with a ‘no girls allowed’ sign…”

Do you validate?

It’s always nice to be validated, especially by an Author I respect as much as Glenn Greenwald

(P)erhaps the most significant result of Simpson’s candor is that Obama loyalists and Beltway media voices are now forced to publicly defend Social Security cuts, because Simpson’s comments have prematurely dragged out into the open what has been an open secret in Washington but was supposed to be a secret plot for everyone else until the election was over.  The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait recently decreed, in response to the Simpson controversy, that “liberals should be open to Social Security cuts as part of a balanced package of deficit reduction.”  And in The Washington Post today, both the Editorial Page and Dana Milbank  defend Simpson and call for cuts in Social Security (Milbank even defends cuts in aid to wounded veterans).  That Social Security must be cut is not only a bipartisan consensus among the GOP and “centrist” Democratic wing, but at least as much, among the Beltway media establishment.

But it’s not just good policy, it’s also good politics.  You see, unlike the Obamabots and Institutional Democrats, I actually care about electoral victory

I certainly have not seen eye-to-eye with Bob Shrum on political strategies over the years.  So when we’re both beating the same drum with the same urgency at the same time, it’s somewhat unusual.

But we both agree that President Obama and the Catfood Commission threaten the electoral chances of every Democrat running for office this November.

Shrum has a piece in The Week in which he echoes Ed Kilgore and others Democratic strategists in pointing out that the Democrats don’t have an issue to run on this November.  Like them, he says that saving Social Security could be the issue that saves their seats as well.

But Shrum is willing to utter the uncomfortable truth that Kilgore ignores:  it is deeply, deeply cynical and unconvincing for the Democrats to be out there castigating the GOP for wanting to do the very thing that the White House is privately telling journalists they themselves plan to do by way of the Catfood Commission after the election.

They are just sycophantic liars.

“It’s not that I’m an uncaring person”

Well it seems that someone has stuck their size 15s in it again for the second time in a week.

Apparently Veterans are now “lesser people” sucking at the public tit.

I’m certainly not the first blogger to notice this story (though I did cover it yesterday- #20), there’s digby and Teddy Partridge and Oliver Willis for example.

My take is a little different.  I’m not in favor of his firing or resignation.  His honest exposure of the endless greed of our ruling class, that they would STEAL the benefits of the troops they so hypocritically and incessantly praise as well as food out of the mouths of babies and the elderly so that the richest one tenth of one percent can get richer by looting our public treasury, says everything you need to know about the morality and values of our “professional political class”.

If I believed in Hell I’d hope you’d rot in it for eternity you heartless, soulless bastards.

It will be interesting to see how Obama, who just last night wasted 18 minutes I’ll never get back, and his mouthpiece Bobby Gibbs handle this.

Can the Cat Food Commission

Jane Hamsher and the FDLakers are calling on President Obama to Can the Cat Food Commission. She very clearly presents the case

The Catfood commission is not legitimate. It was stacked with people who knew their job was to fulfill Pete Peterson’s dream  of rolling back the New Deal and waging war on the social safety net. It is a committee of oligarchs designed to circumvent electoral repercussions for those who oppose the will of the vast majority of the American people, both Republicans and Democrats, who don’t want to see the federal budget balanced on the backs of the nation’s senior citizens.

President Obama, it is not just Alan Simpson who needs to go. It’s time to shut down the entire commission.

She invites everyone

Sign the petition: Tell President Obama to Can the Catfood Commission

Opting For Farce

I had a great chuckle at this from Jon Walker at FDL

In These Sorry Times, Boehner Owes Geithner and Summers a Big Apology

Trying to get the two individuals whose actions played a major role in assuring that Boehner will be promoted (to the position of Speaker of the House after Republicans win big this November) fired is just bad manners in my book. If it weren’t for Summers’ terrible economic projections and horrible advice, combined with Geithner’s equally bad counsel, consistently putting the prosperity of Wall Street over main street while horribly mismanaging the HAMP program, Boehner would not be close to measuring the drapes for the Speaker’s office..

And Paul Krugman was 100% correct in calling for Simpson firing, especially this


At this point, though, Obama is on the spot: he has to fire Simpson, or turn the whole thing into a combination of farce and tragedy – the farce being the nature of the co-chair, the tragedy being that Democrats are so afraid of Republicans that nothing, absolutely nothing, will get them sanctioned.

One of the best is from Dean Baker, also a recipient of Simpson’s derisive e-mails, who calls Simpson not just offensive but ignorant


Former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson, the co-chairman of President Obama’s deficit commission, has sparked calls for his resignation after sending an offensive and sexist note to Ashley Carson, the executive director of the Older Women’s League. While such calls are reasonable — Simpson’s comments were certainly more offensive than remarks that led to the resignation of other people from the Obama administration — the Senator’s determined ignorance about the basic facts on Social Security is an even more important reason for him to leave his position.


   The key facts on Social Security are not hard to understand. The shortfall is relatively minor and distant. Most retirees have little income other than their Social Security, and most workers would find it quite difficult to stay at their jobs in their late 60s or even 70. We might have hoped that Senator Simpson understood these facts at the time when he was appointed to the commission, but we should at least expect that he would learn them on the job.

   His determined ignorance in the face of the facts is the most important reason why he is not qualified to serve on President Obama’s commission. Someone who is co-chairman of such an important group should be able to critically evaluate information, not just insult and demean his critics.

It looks like the President has opted for farce and tragedy with the acceptance of Mr. Simpson’s non-apology and refusal to fire him.