We predicted some time ago that, looking at the makeup of Obama's so-called Debt Commission and bearing in mind recent statements that "everybody was going to have to make sacrifices" (except the bankers, corporate executives, and coupon-clippers, of course, though he left that part out), it was going to turn out that, golly whiz, the biggest part of the national debt had been created not by the war he won't stop or the massive bail-outs of the rich that he engineered Bush-fashion but by those damn old people driving Lexuses. So sayeth Debt Commission Chair Alan Simpson.
Have you heard Alan Simpson making fun of the Social Security beneficiaries who drive up to their gated community in a Lexus? How many times? How many have heard his quip comparing the Grey Panthers to the Pink Panther? That one dates from the mid-90s, but the reporters who cover these issues still love it. He probably hopes that if he repeats these lines enough it will drive many of us to suicide before we start collecting our Social Security benefits.
It is scary that Senator Simpson has been placed in a potentially responsible position as a co-chair of President Obama's deficit position. It would be difficult to find a person who spreads more misinformation and shows more hatred towards the non-rich elderly than Mr. Simpson. Putting Simpson in this position is like putting a klansman in charge of a commission on civil rights.
The really remarkable part of the story is that national media is treating this klansman's inaccurate and misleading nonsense with great respect. The basic facts are not in serious dispute outside of Mr. Simpson's head.
The vast majority of senior citizens do not drive a Lexus. Their Social Security checks, which average just over $1000 a month, comprise more than half of the income for almost two thirds of the elderly. Eighty percent of the elderly households have incomes of less than $56,000 a year. It would be interesting to see Senator Simpson get by on $56,000 a year. Or maybe less than $34,000 a year, like most seniors.
And, of course seniors also worked for their Social Security. This means something outside of Mr. Simpson's rich former politicians' club. The number of rich seniors, like Mr. Simpson and his Lexus driving friends, are few and far between. Even these people have a right to their Social Security since they paid for it, just like they have a right to the interest they get on the government bonds they own. They probably don't need the interest on the bonds either, but that doesn't mean it would make sense to means test it. Of course, if Mr. Simpson's wealthy friends feel guilty, they can send their checks back to the government. The impact on the budget would be trivial, but maybe it would mean that we wouldn't have to listen to these quips from Mr. Simpson anymore.
Baker points out that the Commission, which meets for the first time today, is already acting like an ad agency selling Kill SocSec soap.
The deficit hawks are going into high gear with their drive to cut social security and Medicare. President Obama's deficit commission is having a big public event on Tuesday in which many of the country's most prominent deficit hawks will tout the need to reduce the budget deficit. The next day, Wall Street investment banker Peter Peterson will be hosting a "summit on fiscal responsibility", which will feature more luminaries touting the need to get deficits under control.
What will be missing from both of these events is any serious debate on the extent of the deficit problem and its causes. These affairs are not about promoting a real exchange of views on issues like the future of social security, Medicare, and public support for education, research and infrastructure, the purpose of these events is to tell the public that everyone agrees, we have to cut the deficit. And, this means cutting social security and Medicare. This is argument by authority.
And the "authority", it must be remembered, has a) been wrong way more often than it's been right, and b) spent most of its life and career shilling for the rich. I think it's probably an understatement to say that Alan Simpson doesn't have your best interests at heart - unless you're worth in excess of $100M or so, in which case he would like you to think he's your BFF and resident Boy Toy. And the only best interest Pete Peterson works for is Pete Peterson's.
So to this Debt Commission, the only everybodies who need to sacrifice are the old, the sick, and the poor. You know, the ones driving all those Lexuses. If you don't have yours yet, it must be in the mail. Write Alan and tell him to expedite delivery.
It isn't that the deficits aren't dangerous. They are. The problem is that shills-for-the-rich like the members of this Debt Commission are deliberately blaming the wrong culprits. Which would be, in order of importance, two ludicrous wars, the bankster bail-out, and the amount of our money that goes to subsidize the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, who pay little or no taxes on any part of their income thanks to the way they've gamed the system and the many pols they've bought outright who let the super-rich's tax advisors write the tax laws. If Bill Gates had been paying the full amount of taxes he owed over the past 15 yrs or so, his contribution alone could have paid for most of the Afghan war expenses. If Goldman had paid theirs, most of the Iraq war debt would be retired by now. Count in Blankfein, and it would be.
But ending the war and taxing Bill Gates or Goldman at al is clearly off the table, so, since they've already taken all your money, now they want to take the money you've paid in to protect your retirement, which they will now raise the age of to 93 so the wars can go on and Pete Peterson can keep his new jet.
It was Teddy and Gephardt who were largely responsible for ending their attempt to kill Medicare and Soc Sec during the Bush era. Both of them are gone and we're left with the likes of Doormat Harry Reid and Wall Street Timmy Geithner to "protect" us.
In short, we're fucked.
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