RJ Eskow gets the Alan Simpson 310 million tits controversy exactly right:
Alan Simpson said he's sorry, but it's not enough. The calls for his resignation will continue - and not because of "political correctness" or his use of the word "tit," as some of his apologists have suggested. They'll continue because he's uninformed about Social Security, ideologically biased, and temperamentally unfit for his position. They'll also continue because people rightly see his Deficit Commission as stacked with people hostile to Social Security and intent on cutting it, despite the fact that it doesn't contribute to the deficit.The catfood commission is stacked against a Social Security--and future generations of American seniors. The very fact that Alan Simpson is its co-chair is enough to establish that. His long, long history of advocating cuts to the program and hostility toward advocacy groups fighting to preserve it just can't be ignored. TPM's Brian Beutler had a detailed post on this history yesterday.
Simpson, a Republican, was elected to the Senate in 1978 to represent the state of Wyoming, and wasted little time setting his sites on Social Security. "I just happen to believe that Social Security and Medicare are so out of whack they ought to be constantly subject to budgetary review to identify unnecessary duplicative activities in the same way that every other Federal program is," he said on September 16, 1985, according to the Congressional Record. [emphasis mine]But there's so much more:
December 10, 1987 (Congressional Record):Note: Twenty-three year after this statement, 20 percent of the budget goes to Social Security (an equal percentage to defense) and 21% goes to Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, about two-thirds of which is Medicare spending to seniors and disable citizens. That's not 60 percent.
“The issue is that unless we begin to turn our attention to this issue, in 20 years 60 percent of the domestic budget of the United States will go to people over 62. I guess we will stand around here, blinking like a frog in a hailstorm, and wonder how we got into that one.”
March 12, 1986 (Congressional Record):"The juicers" are apparently also the "greedy geezers" sucking on one of those 310 million tits, people who don't have real problems like being on a fixed income. Three years before Simpson made these comments, Congress enacted the recommendations of the Greenspan Commission in response to the coming baby-boom retirements. They raised the full retirement age beginning with people born in 1938 or later up to age 67 for people born after 1960. The most recent Trustees report found that Social Security will remain fully solvent until 2037, as currently structured.
“You cannot have a system that pays 3 bucks out for every buck you pay in and pretend it works. It is not actuarially sound ... Come the year 2020 and we will look like we fell off a cliff when the baby boomers begin to drag the fund's surpluses down. That is a troubling thing.”
“How do we get to a place in this country where everybody over 65 is supposed to be in deep fiscal trouble, especially when we are compassionate and put together an SSI package to take care of those people with real problems? How did we get to the point where everybody who is ever sick and not in a catastrophic illness should have the Government pay for it?”
“We tried to change that one percentage point last year and the mailroom broke down. That is because "the juicers" were out doing their work. A fascinating business.”
April 15, 1985 (Congressional Record):He despises seniors in general, but really hates the AARP: "33 million Americans bound together by a common love of airline discounts and automobile discounts and RV discounts; they're a monstrous organization, they're 1.5% of all mailings under that permit -- and they could be force but they're not. They're selfish, greedy. They don't care about their grandchildren a whit."
“I remember the series of ads, if I recall correctly, about a little old lady in calico, rather tattered, opening her mailbox. The camera was in the other end of the box. As she reached in there, you saw her twisted face and she gasped audibly, ‘Where is my check?’ Then clutching her shriveled bosom, she fell into her driveway and said, ‘My check was taken from me by “blank, and blank”’ was whoever happened to be the Republican opponent in that particular campaign effort.”
“I believe the Senator from Michigan said there were 18 million people who are members of the AARP. They are formidable, I can tell you that. Reading their material makes me know they are ever more formidable.”
More AARP hate:
January 26, 1995 (Congressional Record):Since 1978, Simpson has been foretelling the demise of Social Security, against all evidence, and making no bones about his attitude toward the nation's seniors--the people who paid into the system. But he is now in a position to make Social Security's destruction self-fulfilling prophesy. He's just about the last person who should be making decisions about the future of Social Security.
“I always have some fascinating experiences with the AARP. I ask them if any of them have grandchildren and if they care one whit about them. Obviously many of them do not care one whit about them or they would not be doing what they are doing as they whack our brains out, saying that everybody is going to lose $1,154 a year if they vote for the balanced budget amendment.”
“But what I am really looking forward to is chairing the Social Security Subcommittee of the Finance Committee. That has sent a definite rigor – understand there is a shockwave – through the offices of the AARP and the National Committee for the Preservation of Social Security and Medicare and the Gray Panthers and the Pink Panthers and all the groups that are waiting out there to beat us into submission so they can do a number on our successors.”
“We are now told that, instead of going broke in the year 2029, it will go broke in the year 2031. Is that not thrilling? Nearly the same numbers as last year; certain disaster. The facts all speak for themselves. The trustees say Social Security will start running deficits in 2015 and go broke in 2031. Disability insurance is already running deficits and it will go broke in the year 2016. The Medicare trust fund will start running deficits in 1996, and will go broke in the year 2002.”
“I know the AARP, the America Association of Retired People, hates to hear this, but it is time they do. That group is the 33 million people paying 8 bucks a year dues to it. They are bound together by a common love of airline discounts and auto discounts and pharmacy discounts and all the rest. Here is what they do not want you to hear: the growth of these programs is what is creating the true hazard in America.”
“So, I always say to them, ‘Do you care about your children and grandchildren?’ They always say, ‘Oh, yes, that is the purpose of our existence, caring for our children and grandchildren.’ I say, ‘Forget it. I do not want to hear that once anymore. That is so much opium smoke. That is a phony.’ They cannot possibly care if they will not allow us to make the adjustments, or at least begin to make the adjustments now.”