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Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles
"Success" is a relative term, apparently. (Larry Downing/REUTERS)

Fred Hiatt gives space to crazy old coot Alan Simpson on the op-ed page at WaPo for Simpson to do what he usually does, make stuff up about Social Security and Medicare, never mind the facts that by now he must be at least aware of.
To be sure, we are encouraged by the positive tone of the bipartisan negotiations being led by Vice President Biden. Those discussions have the potential to produce an agreement on a substantial down payment on deficit reduction. We expect that they will include a number of the recommendations of the president’s fiscal commission, which we chaired, and they can surely benefit from the work of the Gang of Six as well.

But even under the most optimistic scenario, it seems unlikely that those discussions will yield savings large enough to truly stabilize our debt, let alone make the structural reforms to our entitlement programs and tax code that we so desperately need. In short, the discussions could produce a significant step forward but will not be enough to get us to the promised land. As Chambliss has explained, that group is mostly focused on the debt-ceiling vote, while the gang has “always been more focused on the long-term issues, because [the Biden group is] not going to solve the $14 trillion debt.” Indeed, the senators have been meeting for months to develop legislation to implement and potentially improve upon our commission’s $4 trillion plan to bring the debt under control. Their discussions have been guided by the same spirit of compromise and shared sacrifice that led to the success of the commission.

That'd be the deficit commission Simpson and Erskine Bowles co-chaired, aka the catfood commission. The commission that failed. It commission did not have recommendations, the chairs did. Because they could not come to agreement on a proposal, there was only a report from Simpson and Bowles, and no commission recommendations. They didn't get the required votes for an actual set of recommendations. They didn't meet their deadline for providing those recommendations. They simply did not succeed.

Not that blatant truths will ever get in the way of the story that Simpson wants to tell. But it'd be nice if the entire Beltway didn't keep letting him pass his delusions off as reality.

(H/T Dean Baker)

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Jun 04, 2011 at 01:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Social Security Defenders.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Cat Food Commission: an enigma wrapped in a... (9+ / 0-)

    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 Sat Jun 04, 2011 at 01:03:15 PM PDT

  •  my mind's made up... (7+ / 0-)

    don't you dare try to confuse me with facts!

    “He who refuses to learn deserves extinction.” –Rabbi Hillel

    by mellowjohn on Sat Jun 04, 2011 at 01:04:57 PM PDT

    •  Dems must ignore "bipartisan cuts" (6+ / 0-)

      America nor Medicare is "broke". At least not unless we pass Ryan's "bold" and "serious" plan to "courageously" turn us into Haiti.

      •  How can you have bipartisan cuts? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nargel, ca democrat

        When you don't have a Two Party System? If the Democrats hadn't been chasing a center that's still as exactly halfway between the two parties as it was when Carter was elected, they would point out that the spending cuts Republicans demand are as painful as the tax increases.

        Greg McKendry, Linda Kraeger, Dr. George Tiller, Steven Johns. Victims of Wingnut violence

        by Judge Moonbox on Sat Jun 04, 2011 at 05:59:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Medicare can't go broke (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ca democrat, Bruce Webb

        Any politician who says Medicare is going broke is demagoguing the issue.  

        Only Medicare Part A (hospital) has a trust fund.  The law says that any shortfall will be made up by general tax revenue.  Only Part A can have a trust fund shortfall, but Part A can't go broke.

        Parts B, C, and D are paid by general tax revenue plus premium payments from individual Medicare recipients.  Parts B, C, and D can't go broke.  

        RyanCareLess wouldn't go broke because it would limit the size of the Vouchers, but far larger numbers of individual Medicare recipients would go broke, lose their health insurance, suffer and die.

  •  Amazing (13+ / 0-)

    a commission that was a complete failure in every way, a success?  

    The fact that these guys are still out there being taken seriously by the White House is very telling too.  After the commission imploded, you would think they would have turned to someone else who was actually somewhat in synch with the people of this country.

    •  Yes, very telling- (7+ / 0-)

      If the Democratic Party isn't for the little guy, then the Democratic Party really has no reason to exist (I mean actively working to prevent losses rather than just slightly slowing the losses).

      -- We are just regular people informed on issues

      by mike101 on Sat Jun 04, 2011 at 01:32:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Commission was a stalking horse. So, yes ... (7+ / 0-)

      ... the Commission was a success. It can be referred to, argued about, cited as authority, just about anything. And it can safely be ignored, discounted, passed over. That's why you gin up a commission to study things and give a report.

      In Washington land, that is a success.

      For the Commission to have had any persuasive power, a majority was needed for its report and recommendations. It didn't get it - no real surprise - and there was no "... spirit of compromise and shared sacrifice that led to the success of the commission," despite what the silly WaPo op ed piece declared.

      Jesus was a Community Activist.

      by TRPChicago on Sat Jun 04, 2011 at 01:37:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The commission did not produce a report (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        whaddaya, Johnny Q

        They did not issue any report, did not hold a vote.

        •  No report from the Commission. Yeah! (0+ / 0-)

          1. The requirement for approval was a supermajority - 14 of the 18 members.

          2. Twelve of the 18 were members of Congress, equally divided between Democrats and Republicans.

          3. "Everything" was on the table, so to speak. Everything implicated in "fiscal responsibility and reform" in the short and long run. An open ended charter to do what no Congress has done, or been able to do, in modern times.

          Now reflect on those circumstances. What's the likelihood that 14 of the 18 members would agree? On pieces, possibly, but a piecemeal approach was not likely to be persuasive. And tradeoffs are the sum and substance, the sine qua non, of political bargains. You can't get 'em in Congress for hardly anything important. Why would we think a commission composed two-thirds of legislators would agree to a whole cloth of recommendations?

          One regular Kos commentator referred to my analysis early on of this (derisively, in this case) as multidimensional chess. Yes, that's exactly what it is, and in this case, I believe, it was intentionally so from the getgo.

          Jesus was a Community Activist.

          by TRPChicago on Sat Jun 04, 2011 at 07:07:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Fortunately, Joan is not POTUS. (0+ / 0-)

      And her buddy at Fire Dog Lake ??? Whatever.......

      If "catfood commission" is the best you can do, fergitaboutit.

      Angry White Males + Crooks + Personality Disorder psychos + KKKwannabes + "Unborn Child" church folk =EQ= The Republicans

      by vets74 on Sat Jun 04, 2011 at 01:41:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If this is the best you can do, (7+ / 0-)

        just ad hominem (and not very effective ad hominem at that), no substance to your comment at all, especially with a subject so important to the people of this country, that is very sad for you.

        •  Read the goddamn thing. (0+ / 0-)

          Option # 2 is the basis for the most of what we see out of this Administration (such as DoD analysis.)

          BTW: "success" in Washington is pretty much defined by influence. The Deficit Commission got that in spades.

          Joan and whats'erface, not so much.

          Angry White Males + Crooks + Personality Disorder psychos + KKKwannabes + "Unborn Child" church folk =EQ= The Republicans

          by vets74 on Sat Jun 04, 2011 at 02:26:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I Agree (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Plantsmantx, vets74

        Everyone (except Joan apparently) knows that "The Catfood Commission" is capitalized. BTW: I think what's her name is having a membership drive over at you know where. I joined FDL based on the great reporting by David Dayen, emptywheel, scarecrow, Jon Walker and others. FDL is like the ACLU of politics/news. They call it like they see it and let the chips fall where they may. And I admire that.

        •  Except that FDL doesn't know jack about (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nargel

          vetting economic and military items.

          At least ACLU sticks to what they know.

          Angry White Males + Crooks + Personality Disorder psychos + KKKwannabes + "Unborn Child" church folk =EQ= The Republicans

          by vets74 on Sat Jun 04, 2011 at 02:28:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Yes, and Bush kept us safe! (4+ / 0-)

    Join us at the Amateur Radio Group. Serving the Left Side of the Dial since 2011.

    by briefer on Sat Jun 04, 2011 at 01:21:05 PM PDT

  •  They're not "giving him a pass". (5+ / 0-)

    They're repeating the same lies he is.

    "That's what Slink gets for commenting around with those short one-line posts and wearing all of those liberal ideals."

    by JesseCW on Sat Jun 04, 2011 at 01:24:38 PM PDT

  •  Bowles is such a weenie. (6+ / 0-)

    Even if he had the morals to stand up against Simpson he wouldn't have the guts.

    Ideology is an excuse to ignore common sense.

    by Bush Bites on Sat Jun 04, 2011 at 01:34:49 PM PDT

  •  The mistake was appointing Simpson (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, satrap, Bluefin, nargel, Johnny Q

    to anything at all.  Someone needs to own up, so this nonsense is at least a little less likely to recur.

    Sunday mornings are more beautiful without Meet the Press.

    by deben on Sat Jun 04, 2011 at 01:36:52 PM PDT

  •  Did Bowles co-author this piece? (8+ / 0-)

    At the bottom, it states:

    The writers were co-chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.
     

    The piece uses the terms "we" or "our" multiple times, and it never uses the term "I" once.  It would appear, accordingly, that it's joint work product from both CFC Chairmen.

    I've despised Simpson ever since he, Arlen, and Orrin smeared Prof. Hill to put that lying hack on the Supreme Court 20 years ago.  It appears, however, that a lifelong Dem was the co-author of this drivel.

    Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

    by RFK Lives on Sat Jun 04, 2011 at 01:39:25 PM PDT

  •  the real zombie lie (7+ / 0-)
    savings large enough to truly stabilize our debt

    If you want to stabilize the debt, increase revenue by taxing the insanely wealthy and by putting people to work.

  •  Simpson and Bowles, sans committee, succeeded... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    satrap, Johnny Q

    at one objective - bipartisanship. Their proposal has received bipartisan rejection.

    There are elements in Simpson and Bowles committee-less proposal that can be used which I call low hanging fruit. Pass elements. Get actionable steps taken. The WH should insist that aspects not in contention be passed now. No one will or should takes these clowns gentlemen seriously without at least a theatrical attempt at good faith. Do work. Pass legislation. Take action. Don't be so afraid of the S&P and China. Be afraid of us!

    Eliminate the Bush tax cuts Eliminate Afghan and Iraq wars Do these things first before considering any cuts

    by kck on Sat Jun 04, 2011 at 01:57:14 PM PDT

  •  How's this for what a (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    whaddaya, nargel

    serious co-chair might have said?

    To be sure, we are encouraged by many of the ideas being proposed by President Obama, Chairman Bernanke and Richard Trumka . These have the potential to produce an economic recovery which would go a very long way toward a substantial down payment on deficit reduction. We expect that they will meet with deaf ears from too many who are from removed from the suffering of the under- and unemployed.
    But even under the most optimistic scenario, it seems unlikely that those ideas alone will yield growth large enough to truly stabilize our debt, let alone make the structural reforms to our economy and tax code that we so desperately need. In short, the ideas could produce a significant step forward but will not be enough to get us to the promised land, because most politicians have been oddly obsessed with a routine debt-ceiling vote while keeping a wary eye on long-term issues heretofore unconsidered by them or their party.  For whatever reason, though, a group of 6 senators has been meeting for months to develop legislation to implement and potentially improve upon the failed Simpson-Bowles commission to bring the debt under control, while steadfastly ignoring the fact that the best way to cut debt is to earn more i.e. grow the economy. These political discussions have been guided by the same spirit of plutocracy and vacuum-wealth-upward that led to the resounding failure of the commission.

    From Neocon to sane- thanks to Obama- and Kos.

    by satrap on Sat Jun 04, 2011 at 02:01:11 PM PDT

  •  They have to lie. If the debate is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    happymisanthropy

    honest, we win.

    •  Well said, very (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      whaddaya

      well said.

      What I find very interesting is that I have learned SO about reading economics and observing the economic world around me since late 2008.  I've never taken an econ class and work in a profession that has nothing to do with it.  Yet these LIFELONG politicians and committee members seem not to even remotely understand what Paul Krugman would call Macro101.

      And not only that, but we have a living, breathing example of a country (and probably more than one) that is cutting it's way to smaller and smaller size and BIGGER and BIGGER debt- Greece.  Yet this European example is seen as the model for us to emulate.

      As the incisive diarists on this site note frequently, the plutocrats need a book-full of zombie lies.

      From Neocon to sane- thanks to Obama- and Kos.

      by satrap on Sat Jun 04, 2011 at 02:10:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They 'understand' things very well, they are paid (0+ / 0-)

        lie and deceive.

        "Double, double, toile and trouble; Fire burne, and Cauldron bubble... By the pricking of my Thumbes, Something wicked this way comes": Republicans Willkommen auf das Vierte Reich! Sie Angelegenheit nicht mehr.

        by Bluefin on Sat Jun 04, 2011 at 04:37:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Look at Greece now, assets are on sale (0+ / 0-)

        at firesale prices.

        There is a logic to the madness.

        The more debt you have, the more assets you must sell!!!!

        There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

        by upstate NY on Sun Jun 05, 2011 at 02:38:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Bowles would have cut Social (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chuckvw, whaddaya, Bluefin, Johnny Q

    Security under President Clinton if had not been for Monica.

    That's one reason he lost his run for Senate. Although he did a 180 and accused his opponent of wanting to cut social security, people still remembered what he tried to do during the Clinton years.

  •  Those Two (0+ / 0-)

    Bastards smiling is a sickening sight.

    If I was a communist, rich men would fear me...And the opposite applies. The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

    by stewarjt on Sat Jun 04, 2011 at 03:08:02 PM PDT

  •  Was this commission meant to succeed? (0+ / 0-)

    I wonder.  It is true that some commissions are set up to do things that the legislature is politically afraid to do. A good example is the commission on closing military bases, which has been very successful.  But other commissions, like this one, might be set up for other purposes, such as to help the administration politically by enabling it to assert that they are concerned about the deficit, without actually doing anything about the deficit. To me, that seems more likely to have been the purpose of this commission, and that explains its composition, and its inability to reach a consensus. Perhaps by failing, it actually succeeded in its intended purpose.

  •  Fred Hiatt is a hack... (0+ / 0-)

    and is perfectly willing, even eager, to allow Alan Simpson to tell outright lies in the op-ed pages of the Post.

    Op-ed pages shouldn't be safe havens for provably false claims. There was no commission recommendation so no one can speak on its behalf.
    Period.

    But Hiatt is an ideologue with an agenda.
    Anyone think he'd let Jan Schakowsy misrepresent herself in an editorial as speaking on behalf of the CFC?

    “Sometimes, the most reasonable thing in the legislative process is to be unreasonable.” Mike Pence, R-Ind., on negotiating with the democrats.

    by dclawyer06 on Sat Jun 04, 2011 at 05:50:45 PM PDT

  •  How can 3 SS contributors support 1 beneficiary? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    splashoil

    Senator Simpson cynically mentions the 3 to 1 ratio of Social Security contributors to beneficiaries.  But, surely, he should know that the numbers (as approximately stated below) have worked to create a $2.4 Trillion SS surplus.

    Each of us pays 6.2% for SS up to $107,000 of our wages.  That's $6,634.  Three times that is $19,902.  That's the maximum 3 employee contribution, but many beneficiaries get less than $19,902 and our employers also pay 6.2% so the maximum from 3 employees is actually $39,804.

    Despite the 3 to 1 ratio, prior to the Republican Great Recession, the SS Trust Fund consistently collected a surplus.  

    With possible improvements in employment, in income distribution, and/or in contribution (including lifting of the income cap), a 3 to 1 ratio can maintain SS forever and, equally importantly, guarantee current contributors that they will also be able to collect in full on their SS insurance payments.

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