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Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles to preach more austerity to Super Congress today. (Larry Downing/REUTERS)
It's going to be a Fancy Feast Buffet today as Simpson and Bowles meet the Super Congress for an austerity-fest, despite the fact that the Simpson-Bowles effort was an abject failure. The two will undoubtedly call for the Grand Bargain that has so many Democrats so enamored, even though it could be devastating for America's seniors.
Simpson and Bowles have one particular bee in their bonnet, Social Security, and will likely recommend that the Super Congress would-be Grand Bargain not overlook the "greedy geezers." We saw the set-up for this over the weekend, in the deceptive Washington Post front page story that used a boatload of myths and misinterpretations to screech, again, that Social Security was driving the nation to economic ruin. In the event this becomes a theme for the Catfood Commission II, courtesy of Catfood Commission I, here's a non-hysterical, fact-based assessment from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The economic downturn has taken a toll on Social Security, by depressing payroll-tax revenues and leading some older workers who can't find jobs to file for retirement or disability benefits. The graying of America's population adds to the program's challenges, though policymakers have anticipated that demographic shift for decades. In fact, the drafters of the 1983 Social Security reform law built up the trust fund in order to pre-fund some of the costs of the baby boomers' retirement.
The trust fund's principal and interest earnings—on top of Social Security's annual payroll taxes and other receipts—will enable Social Security to keep paying full benefits until 2036, and about three-fourths of scheduled benefits after that, even if Congress makes no changes to the program.
Reality tends not to be a popular talking point in Washington, and it certainly is unlikely to be on display in that meeting today, because on this one all the Very Serious People seem to be in the mood to punish grandma.
9:05 AM PT: If you're a glutton for punishment, you can watch this on CSPAN3 (http://www.c-span.org/...) starting at 1:30 ET. Oh, and POLITICO tells us that yes, indeed, Social Security is on the Super Congress negotiating table.
Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Tue Nov 01, 2011 at 08:02 AM PDT.