(Above video is from a Cavuto appearance)
I've discussed Social Security with President Obama at the White House and he assured us that he wouldn't hurt Social Security. I know many of us on the left have said this before, but I'll say it again: Why appoint somebody like Alan Simpson to his Catfood Commission if he's serious about saving and strengthening our social safety nets?
Here's Alan, the High Lord of Mean:
Alan Simpson’s cold relationship with AARP is no secret, but the former Republican Senator from Wyoming took it to a new level Friday. At an event hosted by the Investment Company Institute, Simpson delighted the finance industry audience members by aiming a rude gesture at the leading lobby for senior citizens.
Financial and investment interests have long been supportive of Simpson’s broad critique of Social Security, since privatizing the old-age and disability support program would be a tremendous boon for Wall Street’s financial managers. ICI represents mutual funds and other money managers who control more than $13 trillion in assets.
Simpson’s forceful gesture came after an extended diatribe against Social Security, which he said is a "Ponzi" scheme, "not a retirement program.”
Simpson argued that Social Security was originally intended more as a welfare program.
"It was never intended as a retirement program. It was set up in ‘37 and ‘38 to take care of people who were in distress -- ditch diggers, wage earners -- it was to give them 43 percent of the replacement rate of their wages. The [life expectancy] was 63. That’s why they set retirement age at 65” for Social Security, he said.
In 2010, President Obama appointed Simpson to a deficit commission that recommended cutting taxes and reducing entitlement spending. The commission's outline is being used as a framework for reform in Congress.
This is totally insane thinking and he's welcome to his twisted logic, but what he said and did with his Bras d'honneur was completely inappropriate as well, since he accepted a position on Obama's commission. Sir, if you could only see my hand now.
If he hates Social Security and Medicare that's fine. Start a PAC. But when you're in a position of trying to help the most beloved social programs America has ever had, at least show some respect. Oh, and stop lying about it.
By the way, this isn't the first time he's stated misinformation about Social Security, either. RJ Eskow wrote a post for C&L about a Simpson exchange with Alex Lawson that was sickening because of all his lies:
Uhm no. This life expectancy misinformation is so widespread, I don't know if we'll ever be able to set it straight. But I might have expected that one of President Obama's Deficit commission appointees -- the co-chairman no less -- would not be among those who believe it. (Normally I would suggest that he was just a liar, but from this account it's pretty clear to me that he really doesn't understand it.)
This is a very important point and one that everyone needs to understand if they hope to beat back the social security assault:
HuffPost suggested to Simpson during a telephone interview that his claim about life expectancy was misleading because his data include people who died in childhood of diseases that are now largely preventable. Incorporating such early deaths skews the average life expectancy number downward, making it appear as if people live dramatically longer today than they did half a century ago. According to the Social Security Administration's actuaries, women who lived to 65 in 1940 had a life expectancy of 79.7 years and men were expected to live 77.7 years.
"If that is the case -- and I don’t think it is -- then that means they put in peanuts," said Simpson.
Simpson speculated that the data presented to him by HuffPost had been furnished by "the Catfood Commission people" -- a reference to progressive critics of the deficit commission who gave president's panel that label.
Told that the data came directly from the Social Security Administration, Simpson continued to insist it was inaccurate, while misstating the nature of a statistical average: "If you’re telling me that a guy who got to be 65 in 1940 -- that all of them lived to be 77 -- that is just not correct. Just because a guy gets to be 65, he’s gonna live to be 77? Hell, that’s my genre. That’s not true," said Simpson, who will turn 80 in September.
Why is Dick Durbin acting like a beard for these people? Simpson is an old hack, but Durbin should be ashamed of himself because he does know the truth and the figures that we're talking about here.
Back to Digby:
Simpson surely knows about the Greenspan Commission. He's just lying about that (or he's senile.) But what's Erskine Bowles' excuse? Or Dick Durbin or Saxby Chambliss or all the other politicians who parrot this misinformation all the time? Are they all senile too?
The people who designed the system understood very well that if "life expectancy" went up it would mean that there were also more younger workers who hadn't died in childbirth paying into the system. And they understood the concept of productivity gains and knew that more people would be brought into the system --- paying as well as receiving benefits --- over time. They weren't cave men. It was only 70 years ago. Simpson was a teen-ager at the time. What they may not have anticipated was just how badly the political system would be distorted by corporate propaganda that made people believe that black is white and up is down. It's the real problem and solving social security's minor shortfall in 2038 is a piece of cake compared to solving that one.
I doubt they ever imagined that our political system in seventy years would have turned out members of Congress right out of a John Birch Society hoedown.