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View Diary: Dick Durbin's new Social Security reform commission (Social Security Defenders blogathon) (205 comments)

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  •  derridog, just FYI, a Democratic Senator (7+ / 0-)

    proposed and was credited with 'raising the retirement age from age 65, to age 67.'  He was the late Florida Dem Senator Claude Pepper.

    Here's an excerpt from his Wikipedia bio:

    In the 1980s he worked with Alan Greenspan in a major reform of the Social Security system that maintained its solvency by slowly raising the retirement age, thus cutting benefits for workers retiring in their mid-60s,
    I never knew this until I heard Janice Gregory, President of NASI, state this in a forum (that I watched online).  Ms. Gregory was a Greenspan Commission staffer.  

    My point being, we must realize that the Democratic Party is no longer the party of FDR and LBJ.  ;-)

    We must be vigilant in regard to both parties!


    "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible."-- Frank L. Gaines


    by musiccitymollie on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 11:02:01 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Um. That's what I said. Durbin is a Democrat. (3+ / 0-)

      He's second to Harry Reid.  That's why I said "that includes the Democratic Leadership and the President."  So, anyway, I'm not disagreeing with you at all.

      •  derridog, just reread--you did, I apologize. When (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I saw the Greenspan Commission reference, took it to mean just 'those dastardly Republicans' (which is out there, quite a bit.)  Clearly, I didn't see your last sentence.  ;-)

        The truth is that I was floored when I watched the video of three former Greenspan Commission staffers.  Frankly, "I" put much more blame on Repubs regarding Social Security reform, until I saw this video.

        Again, my apology.  Didn't mean to 'call you out,' so much as share that info about Pepper.  

        Have to admit that I have had too much of a false sense of security regarding Dems protecting Social Security.  Maybe my reaction was a form of 'projection,' LOL!


        "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible."-- Frank L. Gaines


        by musiccitymollie on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 02:04:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, it helps to believe that the (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          musiccitymollie, joanneleon

          Dems are on our side.  It hurts that it's not true. So we try to hide what we see "with our lying eyes."  I worked against Obama in 2008. I actually thought Hillary would be better but who knows?  But I did so because if you just looked at what he said when he was in the Illinois state legislature versus what he did when he was in office, it was depressingly obvious that there was a big gap between rhetoric and action.  I don't think that has changed. OTOH, he is so likeable and he knows just the right words to say to make us feel that he is on our side. We think he's one of us and then he continually lets us down.

          The rest of the Dems are the same. i thought Nancy Pelosi would stand up for us at one time, but it became clear when she started supporting the Chained CPI that she is also ready to betray us.   I guess we just have to keep our eyes open and be clear about who is for us and who isn't.  I trust Bernie Sanders. I trust Howard Dean.  There are a few others, but not many.  We need to keep the pressure on and just hope that we can shine the light on what they are really doing.  I give credit to Bernie who is out there every day on every talk show trying to wake people up.  Bless his heart!

    •  That Wiki is wrong (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Clem Yeobright

      By the time of the Greenspan Commission Claude Pepper was a Democratic REPRESENTATIVE with major seniority. Yes he had been a Senator with the nickname Boy Senator when elected back I believe in the 20s but almost uniquely moved down from the Senate to the House (IIRC after an interval)

      And according to the autobiography of Bob Ball, the lead Democratic Commissioner on the Greenspan Commission in the chapter separately published under the title "The Greenspan Commission: What Really Happened" Pepper held out to the end against an increase in retirement age, which in fact was NOT part of the Commission recommendation but inserted during the legislative process to backfill what everyone recognized as an unfilled actuarial hole.

      And BTW Greenspan himself had basically bupkis to do with the final deal which was not remotely something hammered out between him and Pepper but instead was mostly cut outside the actual Commission in a series of negotiations between Ball and Reagan's man Dick Darman (not a Commissioner) with some assistance from Jim Baker (ditto) and Bob Dole (a Commissioner).

      So putting any part of this on 'Senator' Claude (who hadn't been one for decades) is not only a historical distortion but might have the actual Representative Pepper come out of his grave to whip that Wiki author with a stick. (Pepper only being known as lovable by the people he ceaselessly defended, you wouldn't want to be on the opposite side of a negotiating table).

      (And yes I'll accept that Janice G might have said something like this. But I'm inclined to go with the late Bob Ball who was a lot closer to the center of the action.) - SocSec.Defender at - founder DK Social Security Defenders group - (hmm is there a theme emerging here?)

      by Bruce Webb on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 04:20:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'll try to get Ball's book from either my city or (0+ / 0-)

        University library (or through interlibrary loan).  Thanks for mentioning his book.  I'm sure that it would be very informative.  

        I saw Mr. Ball on Lou Dobbs CNN show years ago (Crossfire was still running).  His topic was Social Security.  Don't remember anything he said, of course, but I was left with a very favorable impression.

        I'll include a short blurb from Ms. Gregory's presentation below, that pertains to the 'add-on' legislation.  

        Ms. Gregory did make it clear that the FRA was raised as part of a separate piece of legislation.

        You may know the three staffers, Bruce.  It was Gregory, Virginia Reno and Wendell Primus.

        [Gregory worked for J. J. 'Jake' Pickle, Democratic US Representative of TX, and Wendell Primus worked for Democratic US Representative Dan Rostenkowski of Illinois.]

        Here's a brief portion of her presentation:

        Pickle and Rostenkowski [who Wendell worked for] wanted to close the long-term gap, and they went the route of raising the age.

        And they brought along with them most of the Committee Democrats, but not most of the Democrats on the Floor.

        And they won.

        Congress enacted the increase in age, and added it to the Greenspan Package.

        And both of their Wikipedia biographies have very positive words about their part in raising the Social Security Full Retirement Age (FRA).
        Pickle's Wikipedia:

        He was one of only six Southern Congressmen to vote for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and went on to play a key role in passing major Social Security reform legislation in 1983 to save the system from insolvency. The reforms increased the payroll tax rate, slowly increased the full benefit retirement age to 67 and taxed some of the benefits.

        He considered this legislation his greatest accomplishment.

        Rostenkowski's Wikipedia:

        He was also involved in trade policy, as well as reforms of the welfare system, health care and Social Security programs[2]

        He lost his first few legislative battles with new President Ronald Reagan in 1981[citation needed] but, in 1983, he successfully piloted a complex overhaul of the Social Security System (NY Times Sep 22,1985).

        Specifically, the 1983 Act secured the financial solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund by providing a dependable stream of revenues to the Trust Fund and by rationalizing the benefit structure including the retirement age determining benefit eligibility.

        Wikipedia had especially strong (but positive) words about the part that Pickle and Rostenkowski played in the 1983 Social Security reform measures.  I hope that their bios are accurate.

        Heck, reading these two bios, you'd think that Reagan and O'Neill had nothing to do with the reform package.  

        But then, maybe they didn't.  Yikes!

        I guess now I'll always wonder, when I reference Wikipedia.  ;-)



        "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible."-- Frank L. Gaines


        by musiccitymollie on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 10:24:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Rostenkowski wasn't on the Commission (0+ / 0-)

          Or Pickle either.

          The key word in Gregory's presentation as cited by you is "Committee" as in "Ways and Means Committee" chaired by Rostenkowski in those years and with primary responsibity for the revenue portions of whatever legislation came out of the COMMISSION.

          There was one set of events within the Commission structure, a second involving Ball and Darman when the Commission deadlocked, a third when the Commission voted on the deal worked out between Ball (as proxy for O'Neill) and Darman (proxy for Reagan), a deal that knowingly left a hole, and then a next to final process worked out within the House (and Senate) Committee process where Rostenkowski and Pickle took the lead and inserted the FRA piece,  followed by floor action and signing of the final bill.

          It would seem that after 30 years this whole sequence of events has gotten collapsed into the Greenspan-Tip'N'Ronnie show while obscuring the roles of such folks as Pepper, Rostenkowski and Pickle in the various stages.

 - SocSec.Defender at - founder DK Social Security Defenders group - (hmm is there a theme emerging here?)

          by Bruce Webb on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 11:01:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Okay, let me clarify . . . (0+ / 0-)

            It is spelled out by Ms Gregory, when she references "Committee Democrats" and "Democrats on the Floor."  She is referring to the House Ways and Means Committee when she references "Committee Democrats."

            And for anyone who doesn't know who Rostenkowski was, the committee assignment of both these gentlemen is all their Wikipedia web pages.

            Heck, I remember when Rostenkowski was mobbed by a bunch of senior citizens.  And then later served prison time.  He was 'quite a colorful figure,' as I recall.  And I'm figuring that most folks here know who he was.  (At least those over age 40 or 50.)

            So I don't think there's disagreement on this 'process issue,' regarding the two committee members.


            "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible."-- Frank L. Gaines


            by musiccitymollie on Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 12:15:12 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  No let ME clarify (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Clem Yeobright

              You start a sub-thread making the following points:

              Retirement age changes in 1983 were the work product of a Democratic Senator.

              That Senator was Claude Pepper and he performed this work with Alan Greenspan when both were members of the Greenspan Commission

              You cite as evidence a Wiki article and a presentation by Janice Gregory who is presented as a staff member of the COMMISSION

              I respond in a semi-rude fashion that:

              Pepper was not at that point a Senator
              This work product (FRA change) was not that of the Commission
              What work DID come out of the Commission was not particularly that of Greenspan, nor by implication that of Pepper

              Your response was to cite the names of three 'staff members', ask whether I knew them, and so clearly implied they all with Gregory worked for the COMMISSION. But immediately turned around and connected two of them to Representatives on a (unspecified by you) COMMITTEE

              Now I suppose it is possible that Ms. Gregory, your source for a number of claims over the last week, was a staffer both for the Greenspan Commission and for a non-Commissioner Representative on Ways and Means, I'll check. What I do know is that your original comment put forth a mini-narrative as follows in response to a new attempt by Durbin to form a Commission

              "well even the original FRA changes in 1983 were the work product of ANOTHER Democratic Senator Claude Pepper working with Alan Greenspan within the context of the Greenspan Commission, per Commission staffer Janice Gregory"

              Which except for spelling 'Pepper', 'Greenspan' and 'Gregory' correctly all this was terribly misleading to most presumed readers, and to say the least did not move the ball down the field.  It seems in my haste to correct the record I may not have slowed down enough to clarify this was not meant as a personal attack on either you or Ms. Gregory (though Wiki took a side blow).

              Be that as it may your subsequent 'clarification' did not seem to ME to clarify much and indeed introduced some muddle about Ms. Gregory's actual role(s) in 1983 and so her status as a first hand authority.

              Somehow in this whole process a little heat was generated when the intent on both sides was to provide light. Well I do rub some people the wrong way and by its very nature friction produces heat. Sometimes useful energy, sometimes not. Here maybe not so much.

     - SocSec.Defender at - founder DK Social Security Defenders group - (hmm is there a theme emerging here?)

              by Bruce Webb on Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 06:31:37 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Staff members of Greenspan Commission (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Clem Yeobright

       - SocSec.Defender at - founder DK Social Security Defenders group - (hmm is there a theme emerging here?)

                by Bruce Webb on Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 07:32:22 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Thanks, Bruce, for the list of staffers. I've (0+ / 0-)

                  bookmarked them.

                  I have gone back over my transcript, and see that the Moderator, Lisa Mensah, describes them (collectively) as:

                  "This team was all involved with the Social Security Greenspan Commission."

                  But later describes them individually in keeping with your understanding of their roles.  [IOW, Reno as a Commission Staffer, and the other two, Gregory and Primus, as staffers working with the Commission.]

                  So I stand corrected.  Thanks for pointing this out.

                  Maybe I'll stick with posting clips of the panel, in the future.  ;-)


                  "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible."-- Frank L. Gaines


                  by musiccitymollie on Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 10:29:13 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Pickle shows up a lot in Ball's account (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Clem Yeobright

                    even though not a Commissioner. All involved understood that the end game was in Congress in the hands of the Old Bulls like Rostenkowski and Pickle. As such I am sure there was a LOT of back and forth at the staff level.

           - SocSec.Defender at - founder DK Social Security Defenders group - (hmm is there a theme emerging here?)

                    by Bruce Webb on Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 12:33:06 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

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