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Alan Simpson's disastrous interview with HuffPo's Ryan Grim, in which he portrayed an obstinate ignorance of the facts behind Social Security, U.S. demographics, and how Social Security works has resulted in a number of blog posts attempting to show Simpson the light.

Matt Yglesias as a new one, not directed to Simpson, but to the idea that people are living longer so we have to raise the retirement age, a point which Grim, and Ezra Klein, and Kevin Drum, and Steve Benen all debunk. Yglesias's take is incredibly necessary, demonstrating just how cruelly regressive this proposal is.

If I were to say, “let’s fix the Social Security gap with a benefit cut that hurts the poor really badly while largely sparing the rich” Beltway people would think that was a bit of an odd idea. But if I were to say, “people are living longer than ever, so let’s raise the retirement age,” I’d be the toast of Washington. The problem, as Aaron Carroll shows citing Hilary Waldren’s research (PDF) is that these are equivalent ideas. Consider that not only do the rich live longer than the poor, but the gap has grown steadily:
life expectancy chart

So this is a terrible and terribly unfair idea.

....I understand that it seems “politically savvy” to try to devise complicated phase-ins or obscure what’s happening with hide the ball moves, but the upshot is that you wind up with people proposing ideas whose implications they don’t really understand. As we saw recently with Alan Simpson, in DC you don’t need to know anything about public policy to be a senator or to chair important commissions so the odds that people who think they’re merely fooling the voters are also going to end up fooling themselves are quite high.

Not that Simpson particularly cares about the poor. Once again, Simpson shouldn't be let off the hook with the idea that he just doesn't get it. He's maintained a willful ignorance about Social Security for his entire public career, from when he was attacking the AARP two decades ago and through the catfood commission. Simpson just refuses to acknowledge the facts because he doesn't want to. And won't. That doesn't excuse him anything.

But it also doesn't excuse any policy-maker or influential commentator who picks up Simpson's rallying cry and zombie lie: We're living longer, so raise the retirement age! Those policy-makers and DC pundits might be in a cohort that's living longer (and holding onto their jobs for a depressingly long time), but that sure isn't true for the rest of us. Which is why, by the way, it's such a hugely unpopular proposal.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:10 AM PDT.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, Progressive Policy Zone, and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Republished to Dem Wing of Dem Party (13+ / 0-)

    I work with B2B PAC, and all views and opinions in this account are my own.

    by slinkerwink on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:14:09 AM PDT

    •  But how bad is this, really? (0+ / 0-)

      As humans learn how to apply resources to prolonging their lives, why shouldn't those with more resources choose to expend those resources to live longer?

      I mean, does anyone remember the South Park episode where Cartman gets AIDS? And they figure out the cure is to inject $10,000 into your veins every day? At some point, human's knowledge of medicine is going to be quite similar to that. There are going to be really expensive ways to save lives. We're going to have to make some hard choices about whether or not we want to prolong live expectancy by a year or have roads, bridges, safe food, low crime, and the other things that government can provide.

      So what if rich people use their own money to live longer? Especially considering that middle class and poor people also have increasing life expectancies.

      Try looking at things another way.

      by atheistben on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:53:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  when the rich rob the wealth of the nation (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        joynow, whaddaya, MadRuth

        from the people and care not about the welfare of the least among us then there is a problem.  It also means these 'winners' never learned the most basic rules of being human - that we all are each others' keeper.

        "My task will be to show you how to live together peacefully as brothers. This is simpler than you imagine, My friends, for it requires only the acceptance of Sharing. Sharing, indeed, is divine. It underlies all progress for man. By its means, My brothers and sisters, you can come into correct relationship with God; and this, My friends, underlies your lives. When you share,
        you recognise God in your brother. This is a truth, simple, but until now difficult for man to grasp. The time has come to evidence this truth."
        - World Teacher Maitreya

  •  Their argument is that (9+ / 0-)

    people are living longer.  The problem is that they define "people" differently than we do.

    •  Well, people are, on average (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus

      picture a line bisecting the blue and green ones.

      The salient point, though is this has nothing to do with Social Security.  To the extent the wealthier half are living on average 5 to 7 more years, they can pay for that out of private savings, while others might not be able to.

      "This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind[.]" -- Robert F. Kennedy

      by Loge on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:28:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agree (0+ / 0-)

        I don't really see the outrage here. So, we've made scientific breakthroughs that have taught us how we can extend a life if we do certain very expensive things. Now, those who are able are spending their own money to take advantage of these procedures. And they're living longer!

        And that's a bad thing?!?!

        What solution are we looking for here? Rich people not being allowed to spend their own money on their own healthcare so that they die at the same age as poor people? Heavy taxes that tax them so much that they receive the same quality of healthcare as poor people? What?

        Try looking at things another way.

        by atheistben on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:58:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think it's outrageous (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Virginia mom, Odysseus, Matt Z, MadRuth

          that a program that doesn't contribute to the deficit would be cut, when the stated reason for doing so doesn't apply to at least 50% of its beneficiaries.  What is the justification for reducing the retirement periods of half of American workers from what they could enjoy in 1977?  I'm more or less open to means testing benefits, but the idea that people are living longer (a) doesn't mean they can or should work longer, and (b) it appears that the class of people who are living longer than in 1977 can retire comfortably without putting too much stress on SS, which is, after all, a form of insurance, and complementary to IRA's.

          "This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind[.]" -- Robert F. Kennedy

          by Loge on Thu May 12, 2011 at 12:06:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  So now rich people shouldn't benefit (0+ / 0-)

            from the SS system they paid into? SS was designed so that everyone could have it. It was a way to force retirement savings, and to take a small slice to provide a minimal level of income to the poor elderly.

            See, this is why rich people want to kill SS. Because people like you seem to want to use it as a vessel to siphon money from the rich to the poor. That's not its purpose. It's primary purpose was forced retirement savings.

            Try looking at things another way.

            by atheistben on Thu May 12, 2011 at 02:29:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  what are you talking about? (0+ / 0-)

              I'm suggesting not raising the retirement age, which means rich people would get more out than poor people.  

              Yes, I think along the edges, there could be some means testing, but nothing truly major.  (There already is some thru inflation formulas.)  I don't care what the primary purpose was -- I care about what works or doesn't work today and in the near future.  Social Security works very well and doesn't contribute to the deficit by law.  That said, when we have huge wealth disparities, monies being paid out to people with net wealth in the tens or hundreds of millions, even under an insurance program, is wrong.  That money could be better used elsewhere.  

              "People like you?"  Reading comprehension FAIL.

              "This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind[.]" -- Robert F. Kennedy

              by Loge on Thu May 12, 2011 at 02:58:56 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  High earners are living longer. Their argument (6+ / 0-)

      omits the qualifier.  Of course.

      "The worst that can happen to any group of people working to unseat an existing power base is their failure to imagine the lengths to which those in power will go to keep it." Cognitive Dissonance at Zero Hedge

      by CarolinNJ on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:29:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So are low earners (0+ / 0-)

        Try looking at things another way.

        by atheistben on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:54:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Significantly in the former, slightly in the (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Actuary4Change, WheninRome

          latter.  Very slightly.

          "The worst that can happen to any group of people working to unseat an existing power base is their failure to imagine the lengths to which those in power will go to keep it." Cognitive Dissonance at Zero Hedge

          by CarolinNJ on Thu May 12, 2011 at 12:03:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Fucking A... (0+ / 0-)

            Poor people's lives are getting longer, overwhelmingly financed by taxes on the wealthy. And because the wealthy decide to spend more of their remaining money on prolonging their own lives, people get all outraged?

            What the fuck?

            Would people feel better if the chart showed the same slopes, and rich people were using their extra money on hookers? I mean, that'd make things "equal."

            Try looking at things another way.

            by atheistben on Thu May 12, 2011 at 01:38:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  My, my. (0+ / 0-)

              "The worst that can happen to any group of people working to unseat an existing power base is their failure to imagine the lengths to which those in power will go to keep it." Cognitive Dissonance at Zero Hedge

              by CarolinNJ on Thu May 12, 2011 at 05:18:35 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  People? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      stagemom, whaddaya

      "I ain't People!" - Lina Lamont, Singing in the Rain

      I call it "the Breathing Syndrome." When Obama breathes in, they will criticize him for using air. When he exhales, they will complain about pollution. If he holds his breath, they will attack him for doing nothing.

      by Tuba Les on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:38:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Being regressive is a feature, not a bug (17+ / 0-)

    to the right wing. thanks for the post, Joan.

  •  "any policy-maker or influential commentator"? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jfromga, Catskill Julie, whaddaya, Matt Z

    Simpson has never risen to that status, he's always been a RW toady who happens to make the same kinds of sound-bite quips/comments that endeared MSM to McCain

    I am off my metas! Präsidentenelf-maßschach; Warning-Some Snark Above join the DAILY KOS UNIVERSITY "Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03)

    by annieli on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:16:01 AM PDT

    •  Disagree. Simpson is a variegated character and (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      plumbobb

      has some admirable beliefs, which he has forcefully expressed in writing.  Agree he's a jerk about SS and Medicare.  But, then, so is Rivlin, et al.

      "The worst that can happen to any group of people working to unseat an existing power base is their failure to imagine the lengths to which those in power will go to keep it." Cognitive Dissonance at Zero Hedge

      by CarolinNJ on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:33:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Simpson's admirable beliefs (6+ / 0-)

        include his pasionate conviction that Clarence Thomas was qualified to serve on the Supreme Court, and that it was his (Simpson's) sacred duty to trash not only the credibility of Anita Hill, but her personal and professional good name and reputation as well.

        •  Alan Simpson supports gay right, including open (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lgmcp, plumbobb

          military service and marriage, and abortion as an entirely private issue, not to be intruded on by the government.  I'm not a fan, either, but facts are facts and Simpson has committed those beliefs to writing.

          "The worst that can happen to any group of people working to unseat an existing power base is their failure to imagine the lengths to which those in power will go to keep it." Cognitive Dissonance at Zero Hedge

          by CarolinNJ on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:46:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  actually, alice is just a "thinker" type and not (0+ / 0-)

        political at all, so what she thinks about stuff can be thoughtful in policy discussions, but to implement her "ideas" would be disaster.

        •  A thinker with disastrous ideas. Now there's a (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          stagemom

          construct I wouldn't have considered for the commission.  I wonder what about thinker Rivlin's disastrous ideas struck Obama as useful?

          "The worst that can happen to any group of people working to unseat an existing power base is their failure to imagine the lengths to which those in power will go to keep it." Cognitive Dissonance at Zero Hedge

          by CarolinNJ on Thu May 12, 2011 at 05:23:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you. n/t (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli, jfromga, Matt Z

    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

    by tardis10 on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:16:07 AM PDT

  •  I've got a great idea! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stagemom

    Let's lower the life expectancy for rich, death panels as it were. Mandatory execution for all the wealthy living beyond a predetermined age. I'm sure their heirs will back the idea.

    You want to complain ... look at these shoes ... I've only had them three weeks and the heels are worn right through. Eric Idle

    by irate on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:19:05 AM PDT

    •  "Die sooner" is a GOP idea (0+ / 0-)

      still, I would venture to guess the rich are more likely to have living wills drafted, but good luck getting Medicare to pay for it, no matter how much money it saves, thanks to Sister Sarah.

      "This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind[.]" -- Robert F. Kennedy

      by Loge on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:29:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Or, increase the threshold at which (0+ / 0-)

      you can retire, for every year of education beyond 10th grade.  THAT would create a fair way to balance the difference between still working as a lawyer at 70 versus laying asphalt at 70.  

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:52:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So Plumbers who graduate high school (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        whaddaya

        should be penalized?

        •  They're better off than (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          whaddaya

          persons with no GED and no professional license, right?  My point is not that ANYONE should be penalized -- my point is that if as Simpson believes, a longer life expectancy should mean a later retirement, then the best predictor we have of life expectancy is level of income and education.  Let the poor and disadvantaged retire sooner than the rest of us -- like THAT would ever happen, right?  

          "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

          by lgmcp on Thu May 12, 2011 at 12:06:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I dislike terms like "catfood commission" (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IPLawyer, DaveS002, stunzeed, whaddaya

    and "rethugs". I think using terms like that is beneath us, convinces only those who don't need to be convinced, and tends to alienate people who might otherwise listen to the argument.

    •  I'd prefer... (8+ / 0-)

      To call a spade a spade.  No need to sugarcoat what the other side represents.  They want the elderly to be reduced to animal food.  Catfood commission is a fitting name.

      •  I really doubt that they want the elderly to be (0+ / 0-)

        reduced to animal food (in the sense either of being consumed by animals or themselves consuming animal food). That you say they do kind of illustrates my point.

        •  It's not that they want people to eat catfood (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Virginia mom, tardis10, plumbobb, Matt Z, tmo

          The point is they don't care what happens to people one way or another. The "remedies" they propose for a "crisis" that doesn't exist have nothing to do with anything except ordinary peoplel get less Social Security.

          What happens as a result doesn't matter to them. They have better uses for the payroll tax money than to spend on what it's intended for--Social Security and ONLY Social Security. Whaddya

        •  Ok, maybe that was an exaggeration (5+ / 0-)

          But only slightly.  They may not want the elderly to eat animal food, but it is a likely result of dismantling Medicare (Ryancare) and probably Social Security as well.  Either going without medical care or spending significantly less on necessities like food would certainly result.  How on earth is it demonizing the other side when anyone with half a brain can see what they are pushing will completely destroy any quality of life those in their 60's or older might hope for.  Calling Ryancare the "Republican Senior Citizen assisted-suidice bill" wouldn't be much of an overstatement, since it would probably be a result of this legislation.

          •  I certainly agree with you about Ryan's proposal, (0+ / 0-)

            but that is different from the Simpson/Bowles proposal, which cut benefits mostly from the wealthiest beneficiaries, and increased benefits for very low income workers.

    •  "Catfood commission" should remind people (8+ / 0-)

      why Medicare was established.

      We had a national scandal with elderly people eating pet food, which was cheaper then btw, and out of dumpsters, to try to stretch their limited incomes. Poor elderly often had no access to medical care or medicines.

      Catfood commission is not too strong a term, imo.

      Poster

      Okay, the Government says you MUST abort your child. NOW do you get it?

      by Catskill Julie on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:52:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Paul Ryan's proposal is a bona-fide attempt to (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Catskill Julie, Matt Z, whaddaya

        return the country to pre-Great Society mores. Great, you get $6K. That's going to be really useful when you also have had cancer and are denied for insurance by all of the private insurers (since the Ryan proposal also presupposes rescinding the Obama Health Care provisions guaranteeing access to health insurance), and your 20 day stay in the ICU costs $236,000. I don't think Simpson Bowles is on the same scale, and actually, although I don't agree with all of it, I do think it contained some reasonable provisions (although of course the best thing to do would be to travel back in time to when George W Bush was about six years old and convince him to become a chartered accountant -- we'd still be in a hole, assuming President Gore wouldn't have understood the underlying time bomb that Credit Default Swaps posed -- but the hole would only be about 1/3 as deep).

    •  IT'S MEAN!!! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z, whaddaya, tmo

      goodness me.
      no need to use humor!

  •  Of course it is but that is what the evil rich (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    whaddaya

    want. To make us pay and pay and pay.

    Evil in America brought to us by people who didn't vote and the easily misled.

    The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear and loathing.

    by a2nite on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:21:14 AM PDT

  •  One should never be amazed.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brooke In Seattle

    ...by how much hearing one loses when they have a stick up their ass.

    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.

    by Palamedes on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:22:00 AM PDT

  •  Alan Simpson is a lying sack of shit. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OpherGopher, snowshoeblue

    And whoever appointed him to the Catfood Commission is full of baloney.

    Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope... --RFK

    by expatjourno on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:23:01 AM PDT

    •  Obama appointed him. Alan Simpson is not a liar. (0+ / 0-)

      Obstinate and wrong headed about some things, but not, I think, a liar.

      "The worst that can happen to any group of people working to unseat an existing power base is their failure to imagine the lengths to which those in power will go to keep it." Cognitive Dissonance at Zero Hedge

      by CarolinNJ on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:35:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Do you believe that Alan Simpson (4+ / 0-)

        actually does not know the information outlined in the diary? Do you believe Alan Simpson really thinks that the demographic bulge of the baby boom wasn't ever considered before? Simpson has actually stated that although he was already a US Senator when the 1983 Greenspan/SS reforms were enacted.
        Simpson is much more than obstinate.

        "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

        by tardis10 on Thu May 12, 2011 at 12:08:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Your naïveté is touching. n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tardis10

        Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope... --RFK

        by expatjourno on Thu May 12, 2011 at 12:13:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  He does say what he thinks. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tardis10, Odysseus

        Which is the problem. His beef with reporters who refute his erroneous statements about SS with facts is that they have the numbers on their side! Now, that is nerve! How dare you be right!, says Simpson. Really. These people have no shame. Whaddaya

        •  As I wrote, obstinate and wrong headed. (0+ / 0-)

          But not a liar, which was the original point of departure.

          "The worst that can happen to any group of people working to unseat an existing power base is their failure to imagine the lengths to which those in power will go to keep it." Cognitive Dissonance at Zero Hedge

          by CarolinNJ on Thu May 12, 2011 at 01:06:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No. He is a liar. He just plays obstinate on TV. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tardis10

            Seriously. He has been spouting the same claptrap for decades. Literally. I am quite certain he knows the facts by now.

            Tell me, are you one of those who thought John McCain was ever a Maverick?

            Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope... --RFK

            by expatjourno on Thu May 12, 2011 at 01:37:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The anonymous staff surveys that used to come out (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              whaddaya

              every so often rating Congresspeople characterized McCain as shallow and opportunistic.  Because the surveys were of congressional staff, I always figured they knew him better than I did.  And some reading in his bio led me to add reckless.   I believe McCain's Vietnam plane crash was consonant with his earlier training crashes:  McCain had crashed more than one plane in training.  He paid a terrible price for that war zone crash, and it might have happened in any case, but his history of extreme impulsiveness made me wonder.  That impulsive jump from the campaign to Washington to sort out the economic crisis is just McCain's kind of brainless jump-first-figure-out-where-you're-coming-down-later manic energy.  No thought, all action.  I believe McCain's energy and limbic brain explosiveness arises in anger.

              So, no, my reading about McCain over the decades has never led me to think he was/is a maverick.  He's just a compulsive, reflexive contrarian who is propelled by anger.

              "The worst that can happen to any group of people working to unseat an existing power base is their failure to imagine the lengths to which those in power will go to keep it." Cognitive Dissonance at Zero Hedge

              by CarolinNJ on Thu May 12, 2011 at 03:37:22 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Do you read minds? My take on Simpson is he could (0+ / 0-)

              easily match you in stubbornness.

              "The worst that can happen to any group of people working to unseat an existing power base is their failure to imagine the lengths to which those in power will go to keep it." Cognitive Dissonance at Zero Hedge

              by CarolinNJ on Thu May 12, 2011 at 03:39:53 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Only the supremely credulous would believe... (0+ / 0-)

                ...Simpson's schtick.

                Did you even read this diary? Or the diary it linked to?

                Simpson isn't some pig ignorant hayseed. He just plays on on TV.

                Simpson has been n a crusade to dismantle Social Security and Medicare for decades. DECADES.

                Your opinion deserves nothing but scorn and contempt.

                Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope... --RFK

                by expatjourno on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:35:46 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Which you've so graciously supplied. (0+ / 0-)

                  "The worst that can happen to any group of people working to unseat an existing power base is their failure to imagine the lengths to which those in power will go to keep it." Cognitive Dissonance at Zero Hedge

                  by CarolinNJ on Fri May 13, 2011 at 12:03:31 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  The only difference between what Simpson says... (0+ / 0-)

                    ...and what Pete Peterson and others say is Simpsons faux-folksy demeanor. They all use the same repeatedly debunked talking points because the truth means nothing to them. They are all ruthless liars with the same Randian class-war agenda.

                    Do you think that Simpson honestly believes the EXACT SAME THINGS that Pete Peterson is lying about? Or do you think that Pete Peterson, Alice Rivlin, Erskine Bowles, etc actually believe what they are saying and are all just "mistaken" as well?

                    Simpson has a schtick. A persona. He uses it to deliver the exact same talking points as the rest of them. Duh.

                    Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope... --RFK

                    by expatjourno on Fri May 13, 2011 at 12:39:15 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Of course they believe it. People believe all (0+ / 0-)

                      sorts of things that aren't true.  It's a matter of where we're emotionally invested.  Alice Rivlin, for instance, is a perfect example of the fallacy, conceit, if you will, of the PhD out of her territory but utterly oblivious to her own ignorance because......she's got a doctorate.  She's got government experience.  A salesman who sold to doctors told me that doctors' conceits about their superior intelligence made them easy to sell to.  I think it was Paul Hornung who was eventually indicted in an investment scam that specialized in selling trash to the highly educated.  An article at the time explained how easy it is to fool people who imagine their expertise in one area gives them a kind of universal intelligence.  Need I say, it doesn't.  

                      Alan Simpson, who can be very personable, is noted for his Olympian arrogance and doubtless imagines himself an expert on many thing he doesn't have half a fact about.  He also has been forthrightly supportive of same sex marriage and open military service, he's dismissive of homophobia, and he supports a woman's right to make her own reproductive choices, without any government intrusion.  He's ill informed about many other issues, including SS and Medicare because he has an invested bias in a certain point of view.

                      And it should be said that Simpson's views of gay marriage and military service, homophobia. and abortion rights are vehemently opposed by people who fervently believe otherwise.  Difficult as it may be to come to terms with, there are people, some of them extremely influential, who don't give a tinker's dam about a middle class.  Irrelevant.  Obstructionist, even, and not at all in their best interests to support.  I would put Simpson among them, but I'm not going to deny his right headedness on some issues.

                      "The worst that can happen to any group of people working to unseat an existing power base is their failure to imagine the lengths to which those in power will go to keep it." Cognitive Dissonance at Zero Hedge

                      by CarolinNJ on Fri May 13, 2011 at 01:50:06 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

  •  And blue collar workers tend to have a much (14+ / 0-)

    harder time working later in life. Jobs like auto mechanic, line workers, plumbers, construction workers commercial fishers, etc tend to be extremely hard on the body. The body wears out far earlier for them than it does for politicians who sit on their butts in $700+ Herman Miller ergonomic chairs all day long. These people actually have to hop on a treadmill or walk around a golf course to get their hearts moving once in a while.

    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times... - C Dickens.

    by grover on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:24:05 AM PDT

    •  Exactly. The solution would be for those who do (7+ / 0-)

      physical labor most of their lives to apply for disability once they reach 65 (or earlier if necessary) since their bodies can no longer do the work. But of course, they will be denied because we all know they can just hop out and easily get similar paying jobs behind a desk, right?

      A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. -Greek proverb

      by marleycat on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:33:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But if we fixed SS disability approval (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, Calamity Jean

        Then the idea of raising retirement age might be palatable, since those who were physically unable to do their jobs could retire with disability payments and those who could still do theirs would work longer.

        I'd be interested to see how much the Life Expectancy at retirement differs for blue vs. white collar as opposed to income.

        Numbers are like people . . . Torture them enough and they'll tell you anything.

        by Actuary4Change on Thu May 12, 2011 at 12:14:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Herman Miller chairs are soooooo overrated. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      myadestes, grover, lgmcp, whaddaya, Matt Z

      I worked in a company that bought them for everybody and I'm here to tell you, those things are bloody uncomfortable.

      "The worst that can happen to any group of people working to unseat an existing power base is their failure to imagine the lengths to which those in power will go to keep it." Cognitive Dissonance at Zero Hedge

      by CarolinNJ on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:37:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  and hideous (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lgmcp

        but so many fashionable things are both ugly and uncomfortable.

        It was the best of times, it was the worst of times... - C Dickens.

        by grover on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:46:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I know. It's such a hoot when a model gets pushed (0+ / 0-)

          onto the runway in a get-up that reduces her to atrocious parody and you wonder who thinks that stuff is attractive.  Hey, women, and men, have had the lower two ribs removed to reduce their waists.  Humans need adult supervision but we don't acknowledge any higher life forms.

          "The worst that can happen to any group of people working to unseat an existing power base is their failure to imagine the lengths to which those in power will go to keep it." Cognitive Dissonance at Zero Hedge

          by CarolinNJ on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:53:22 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  They're way too big, for one thing (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CarolinNJ

        Designed for the average male NOT the average female.

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:53:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That, too. But damn, they're a hard seat. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lgmcp

          "The worst that can happen to any group of people working to unseat an existing power base is their failure to imagine the lengths to which those in power will go to keep it." Cognitive Dissonance at Zero Hedge

          by CarolinNJ on Thu May 12, 2011 at 12:05:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  This is what happens when you hide (10+ / 0-)

    your real motivations (or try to).

    The real goal is cutting taxes. Any idea which reduces spending is therefore worth trying to see if it can be passed.

    In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra

    by blue aardvark on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:25:09 AM PDT

  •  Alan Simpson is a fool about SS (5+ / 0-)

    but he has steadily opposed homophobia, supports same sex marriage and open military service, and abortion as a private matter for women to decide without government intrusion.  He's written some strongly worded pieces on these issues.  He's not a one string guitar.  Unfortunately, Obama found the loose string on Alan's guitar and put him on stage to plunk on it.

    "The worst that can happen to any group of people working to unseat an existing power base is their failure to imagine the lengths to which those in power will go to keep it." Cognitive Dissonance at Zero Hedge

    by CarolinNJ on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:28:18 AM PDT

  •  Alan Simpson? (5+ / 0-)

    I would rather listen to Homer Simpson on the issues. At least he has a clearer understanding of how things work. Of course, Bart Simpson would be be there to make everything right in the end.

    I call it "the Breathing Syndrome." When Obama breathes in, they will criticize him for using air. When he exhales, they will complain about pollution. If he holds his breath, they will attack him for doing nothing.

    by Tuba Les on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:28:58 AM PDT

  •  This is also a lesson for Erskine Bowles (6+ / 0-)

    Bowles was the commission's less colorful co-chair. But he and Simpson have the same position on this. (Bowles was arguably an even worse choice for the commission because of his conflict as a Morgan Stanley board member.)

  •  Sucks (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z, whaddaya, tmo

    I've pretty much resolved myself to the fact that I'm going to work until I die.

  •  But benefit changes will be progressive.. (0+ / 0-)

    Aren't they also talking about the wealthier getting less benefits - i.e means testing?

    Doesn't the combination of those changes (older retirement age and means testing) affect both groups negatively?

    They are trying to make tweaks that will keep the system solvent longer.  If every group says "don't touch MY benefits - touch THEIRS", then nothing gets accomplished.

    Seems to me a slightly higher retirement age, along with means testing and higher SS cap would keep the system solvent for many years.

    •  Means testing is another word for WELFARE. (11+ / 0-)

      You really don't want to go there.  The man who constructed SS was acutely aware of that:  A program for the poor soon becomes a poor program.  You have to get as wide a buy-in as possible and means testing does just the opposite.

      "The worst that can happen to any group of people working to unseat an existing power base is their failure to imagine the lengths to which those in power will go to keep it." Cognitive Dissonance at Zero Hedge

      by CarolinNJ on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:41:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Don't drink the Cool-Aid! (6+ / 0-)

      The best thing to do for the next 26 years is absolutely NOTHING! SS is solvent. No crisis, no hurry, no problem. Hey, trust me! I worked for Social Security for 32 years in staff and management jobs. I know what I'm talking about. Simpson doesn't know and doesn't care.

      The people who stand the most to gain from wrecking SS are those who run the financial markets. You bet that Pete Peterson, the Koch's, and the Goldman Sachs of the world want you to drink deep. Can you imagine how much money this would be year after year in the markets and what their profits would be?

      Peterson himself has put a $1 billion bucks into selling people on the phony crisis and the notion that "tough choices need to be made." Notice the use of the passive voice. It's a clue that this is propoganda, pure and simple. Last thing I heard, propoganda is less than truthful and is intended to deceive the hearers.

      Peterson expects to get that money back, with interest. The fact he's willing to spend so much shows exactly what a big deal this is. This game is for keeps, and if he wins, we lose. Whaddya

      •  I've missed you. n/t (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        whaddaya, Matt Z

        "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

        by tardis10 on Thu May 12, 2011 at 12:41:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I thought we didn't have enough SS income (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        whaddaya

        to pay benefits this year.  Isn't that the case?  Or, am I wrong?

        •  Gene Sperling, the President's chief (0+ / 0-)

          economic advisor, decided that a temporary reduction of 2% of payroll taxes for 1 year would replace the Making Work Pay tax break that expired at the end of 2010. This move was remarkable when you consider that the R's would probably have accepted a continuation of the MWP tax cut. But, the President adopted the idea. People in the groups which have been active in combatting the current attacks on SS and Medicare, were appalled.

          We pointed out repeatedly that SS is being described as in crisis precisely because payroll taxes won't pay for the program which is "insolvent." However, the President did what he did. This was a bad move strategically in the battle to save SS. However, water under the bridge. Whaddaya

          •  Oh yeah.. I forgot about that.. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            whaddaya

            I remember thinking at the time how dumb that sounded.  Take a big chunk of the income out of a system you claim is going broke!

            Thanks.. I appreciate the info.

            Now.. just thinking here.. if that 2% reduction is set to run out in Jan 2012 - an election year! - what impact will that have on the elections??  nuts.. just nuts..

            •  Well, ya know, there's the problem, eh? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              tardis10

              That and the R's will say it's a tax increase, right? And, you know how they feel about tax increases. And, there's the very real shortfall in revenues vs. benefit payouts in times of high unemployment. It wouldn't usually make a dint in revenues. But, do it now, and you get a large, exaggerated effect and grist for the mill of SS detractors.

              Now, the fact that the Trust Fund makes up the difference automatically (no vote by Congress is required because SS benefits are not on the budget and never have been) is neither here nor there to these people. What's material is the appearance that SS is insolvent.

              It's hard to understand what the President and his people were thinking. That's the least of it, I guess. Whaddaya

      •  boomers will be dead in 30 yrs. what's the prob? (0+ / 0-)
  •  Sigh. Please stop calling this a "lie" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lgmcp
    Simpson's rallying cry and zombie lie: We're living longer
    Yes, Simpson's interview betrayed a rather unbelievable lack of understanding of the actuarial facts.

    But it is not a lie to say that people are living longer; you've posted two charts on the FP today that show people are living longer.  The Social Security Admin has tables showing that people -- in all income brackets -- are living longer.

    It's a fact: people who reach 65 are living longer, on average, than at any time in our history.

    Yes, there's an income-based gap in the rate of increase in life expectancy. Yes, raising the retirement age is a regressive cut that hits low earners hardest.  But you diminish your entire argument when you insist that Simpson is lying about life expectancy.

    •  And don't use life exp. "at age 65" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      whaddaya

      Claiming that "we're living longer" is a lie sounds wrong to most people because it's counter to their experience. That this assertion is literally false makes it counterproductive.

      Since WWII, life expectancy for Americans who survive infancy has increased, on average, 6 to 7 years (more for nonwhites).

      We should not use l.e. "at age 65" for these kinds of Social Security discussions. That's OK for tweaks to benefits, but it tells us nothing about who becomes initially eligible.

      What matters is the number of working people who live to become eligible, so l.e.s at ages like 30 or 40 are much more relevant. And at those ages, life expectancies are higher--just not enough to justify raising the eligibility age.

    •  Lying by Exaggeration is still lying, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      stagemom, whaddaya

      Here's the tables
      http://www.cdc.gov/...
      p 29

      A gain of about 6 years for 65 year olds of all incomes
      and 4 years for 70 year olds.

      He's lying because he uses the life at birth statistic which has changed by 26 years.

  •  Who put Simpson (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    whaddaya

    on the catfood commission?

  •  Alan Simpson is evil nt (0+ / 0-)

    The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear and loathing.

    by a2nite on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:37:29 AM PDT

  •  Alan Simpson should not be pilloried for his (6+ / 0-)

    beliefs.  He has always been this way, and Obama picked him knowing his ideology - and most of Obama's picks are no fans of Social Security anyway.  Obama wants the bipartisan pony, fine.

    What you CAN and SHOULD pillory is that Simpson is a moron when he is hired to be an expert.  That Obama would name a moron (demonstrated quite nicely here) to such a key post is the sort of lapse in judgment that inspires wonder.

  •  Another Triumph of Reaganomics nt (6+ / 0-)

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:41:29 AM PDT

  •  Remind me how Simpson got put on that Commish? (7+ / 0-)

    The man is a cranky ignoramous.  He clearly has no idea what he is talking about and worse, doesn't care because that would interfere with him pushing his ideology.

    In short, the definition of a 2011 Republican.

    The shame is we are wasting valuable time dealing with these people and their false issues when we should be focused on a number of more important progressive issues including addressing climate change, global warming and the energy crisis.

    Send your old shoes to the new George W. Bush library.

    by maxschell on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:43:37 AM PDT

  •  it's ok for Simpson to not believe in SS - but OWN (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lgmcp, whaddaya

    it and defend it intellectually ... that he both doesn't believe in SS while believing all sorts of unbelievably stupid things (not stupid things about SS, but stupid things about how mathematics works) is really disturbing.  It's like Paul Ryan being hailed as an expert on fiscal discipline - want to stick it to poor people and minorities, go for it ... it makes it easier to work against you.

  •  Another reason to not raise the retirement age (6+ / 0-)

    We have huge unimployment in the group of people under 25. It's a huge waste for the country to not benefit from their (young) labors. Let older people retire earlier, and but more young people to work.

    They understand this in Europe, where they went to a 32 hour work week to be able to employ more people.

    •  would agree but this is America the land (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WheninRome, whaddaya

      of you are on your own and we are glad you are poor....so you can go away to die earlier.

      I'm surprised that the catfood commission didn't suggest Soylent Green as a solution.

      We could stop the evil stoopid and unfunded wars that are useless except to satify our bloodlust and that sure wasn't worth it.

      The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear and loathing.

      by a2nite on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:55:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Mendacity not ignorance (7+ / 0-)

    Lefty bloggers need to stop giving assholes like Simpson the benefit of the doubt by describing this is clueless or ignorant of the facts.

    It's real simple:  they are liars.  They are lying.  They know they are lying.  Period.

    See, that was easy.

  •  No they wouldn't. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Virginia mom, whaddaya, Matt Z

    Yglesias:

    If I were to say, “let’s fix the Social Security gap with a benefit cut that hurts the poor really badly while largely sparing the rich” Beltway people would think that was a bit of an odd idea.

    They would think it was brilliant.

    "We come on a peace thing. White flag?" "White flag!"

    by VictorLaszlo on Thu May 12, 2011 at 11:58:21 AM PDT

  •  Simpson knows the truth about Social Security (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, whaddaya, OldDragon, Matt Z

    And he doesn't care if anyone gets screwed by his "reforms", dies because of them or lives a miserable end of life.

    Like many of the elite, he only cares about himself and his friends, not the "lesser people."

    His ideas will get our money into Wall Street hands, because more will have to be saved to make up for SS shortfall.

    If Simpson and his crypt keepers are really lucky, Obama will begin to privatize SS and hand the bankers what they have wanted for decades - a way to get fees out savings that have escaped their "management" until now.

  •  Who put doofus on the Catfood Commision anyway? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    whaddaya

    Just Sayin' it clearly shows either Obama didn't know who Simpson was or what?  

    I hope Obama got what he wanted from Simpson because the American people sure didn't!

  •  How about we lower the retirement age? (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, MKinTN, whaddaya, tmo, Calamity Jean

    http://www.census.gov/...

    Specifically,
    http://www.census.gov/...

    In 2009, there were 8.6 million people age 60-64 in the labor force or about 56%.  At 65-74 the percentage is only about 25%.  About 8 million jobs were lost in the recession.  I think we could probably pick up to 2 million of those just by lowering the retirement age.

    Extending the early retirement age with lowered benefits, would probably pick up quite a few more people.  Some of the revenue to support the lowered retirement age could come from taxes paid as tax deferred savings are tapped by early retirees.

    I wonder how it would poll to ask the question of whether people would pay an extra percent in taxes to lower the retirement age 2, 3, or 4 years.  Not sure what that work out to actuarially.

  •  I have a better idea (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OldDragon, WheninRome, Matt Z, tmo

    Reinstate the  FICA  tax  again at the $300,000 level and lower the retirement age to 55. Two problems solved. Social security solved forever. Help for those who busted thier ass for 35 years but were financially destroyed by the insane policies of the Bush administration. This does not help me for I am already on SS.

    Voting for a Republican is like letting the fox in the hen house and expecting to have fried chicken for Sunday dinner- John Lucas

    by Jlukes on Thu May 12, 2011 at 01:22:41 PM PDT

  •  Social Security and Alan Simpson. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    whaddaya, Matt Z, Calamity Jean

    Does this evil little hypocritical weasel, that is older than dirt, draw Social Security?  How do I find out?  I think it should be a matter of public record.

  •  Living longer doesn't mean roofing... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    when you are 70 is something anyone can do.

    One of my best friends was a roofer for 30 years.  I'm 60 and he's 57, and we worked on my roof last fall.  There were 4 of us on a flat roof, and it took 3 or 4 days.  

    It was all I could do to be up there helping him.  

    To take it easy, now he farms, and has a little sawmill to run off lumber to build things on his farm, and will saw your logs for half the lumber.  That's his retirement, becoming a farmer, instead of roofing all summer!

    It is not reasonable to expect men who are in their  upper 60s to keep working physical jobs like construction trades, pressmen, steelworkers, and mining.  That's crazy talk!

    If Joe falls down on a sloped roof, he could get killed!  He could kill his helpers!  It's all he can do to kneel down after years of laying shingles.

    Crazy talk to raise the retirement age past what it is now!

    Republican crazy talk, no surprise there!

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