I watched Erskine Bowles pontificating at the first meeting of the President's Bipartisan Fiscal Commission, and I just couldn't get past my visceral reaction: I don't trust any of these people.
And I don't. I mean, Alan Simpson? The man who likes to talk about "senior citizens driving up to their gated community in a Lexus"? The man's a weasel, he's always been a weasel. So already I'm suspicious. Why the hell is he co-chairing this commission, anyway?
And it's beside the point. Pay attention: The reason Franklin Roosevelt would not allow Social Security to be means-tested is that the political will to protect it would vanish as soon as it was perceived as a "welfare" program.
Alan Simpson knows that. They all know that. They just want to change it under the radar, because if it only goes to poor people, it's a lot easier to destroy.
And Alan, you wizened old coot? The senior citizens in my neighborhood are on foot, walking up Thompson Street to the local food bank. (Which, by the way, Alan, has seen its client base go from 40 families a month to 350+.)
Erskine Bowles? Oh yeah, that gives me comfort. Bowles is there to put lipstick on the value-added tax pig.
Theoretically, a VAT wouldn't be so bad if it were joined with a reduction in income taxes on the lower economic brackets because without it, it's a highly regressive tax. But after you saw what happened to health insurance subsidies, ask yourself this question: Do you trust these Beltway pros to look out for the poor and working class? Come to think of it, have you ever even heard them mention the poor and the working class? Because all I ever hear them do is babble on about this mythical "middle class" that no longer actually exists.
Let me call this deficit commission what it is: an escalation of war on the paycheck class.
People who are tied into the Beltway intravenous feeding system (politicians, staffers, think tankers, media) behave in terms of mandatory inclusion: that is, they act as if everything said by the other members of the system is plausible and accurate - even when they know it isn't. (This is the quality that leads to the rise in blood pressure for those of us watching at home.)
Those of us who are paying attention - yes, even lifelong liberals like me - are absolutely furious. Because this is just another Hollywood remake, and we already know how the story ends. (Hint: Millionaires and billionaires live happily ever after. Us? Not so much.)
The pointless, expensive wars, the massive defense contracts? "Absolutely essential" to national security (i.e. oil. I wonder if it's ever even occurred to our leaders to simply buy oil at a fair price instead of trying to appropriate it?)
The Social Security exemption for those earning over $106,800 would be the best place to start. In case you've forgotten, let me remind you that Americans who earn less than $106,800 pay 6.2 percent of wages in Social Security taxes, while someone who earns a million dollars a year pays only 0.66 percent.
That wage exemption is a windfall for the wealthy, because it was put in place at a time when their income tax rate was around 95 percent. Their income tax was slashed to 35 percent, but their bracket's Social Security taxes were never raised to make up the difference.
No, when they say "everything's on the table", they mean "only the things the rich and powerful want on the table are actually on the table."
And we're supposed to be too stupid to notice.
You can read this and other related posts over at Campaign for America's Future.