I'm not surprised, although outraged, by Alan Simpson's remarks. Obviously his language was crude, intemperate, and sexist, but even worse is the obvious hostility to Social Security, the most successful social program in history; one that hundreds of millions of American workers are currently relying on, or will rely on in the future, for a retirement with dignity.
I've written President Obama about my concerns. The text of my letter follows below. I urge everyone who reads this to send a similar message. Obama needs to hear us -- hands off our Social Security. We can't allow concerns about structural deficits, caused largely by Bush's risky tax cuts, to serve as an excuse to gut our Social Security benefits.
And if you like what I wrote -- feel free to borrow. No pride of authorship, I just want Obama to be reminded how his base feels about Social Security.
Here's the text of the email I sent this morning:
I, like millions of other Americans, am outraged by Alan Simpson's ridiculous comment that Social Security is a "milkcow with 310 million tits."
No, I'm not particularly offended by the intemperate language he used, though the fact that he thought it appropriate to put such language in a written response to a concerned member of the public certainly calls his judgment into question.
I'm much more concerned about the substance of Mr. Simpson's remark. It is outrageous. American workers pay into Social Security for their entire life, so that they can have a decent retirement when they become too old to work. We are rightly concerned that your deficit commission is going to use our current economic problems as a pretext for cutting our Social Security benefits, which we have earned. How can that be compared to "sucking at a tit?" American workers are not lazy bums waiting for a handout from Social Security, they are hard workers who have willingly paid into the program in exchange for the right to retire with a modest income. The program provides exactly what it says -- security. How dare Alan Simpson, a rich, privileged conservative elitist hack, attack ordinary working Americans like that!
And this brings us to a bigger problem with your deficit commission. Simpson, like a lot of other wealthy elitist Republicans, hates Social Security. Indeed, they've been looking for ways to undermine and gut the program since the day it was passed. Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit. In fact, its surplus has been reducing (disguising) the amount of the deficit for years. There's no emergency -- at worst, with very conservative assumptions, the projection is that full benefits will be available for the next 27 years. Surely that isn't an emergency, and doesn't require that hasty decisions be made in the middle of an economic crisis. Why doesn't Mr. Simpson (and the rest of the commission members) focus on reducing the structural deficit (caused largely by Bush's reckless tax cuts) rather than hurting the American middle class?
Finally, a word of warning on politics: If you buy into this Social Security hysteria, and support the benefit cuts Simpson and his ilk are probably going to propose, that's the end of the Democratic Party for a generation. That's not a threat, just an observation. Your base will abandon the Democratic Party in droves. Strong support for Social Security is the essence of being a Democrat; if that goes, all's lost.