Thursday, August 26, 2010

Keeping Simpson On

Back in April, Ashley B. Carson of the Older Womens League posted on The Huffington Post a blog criticizing Alan Simpson for misrepresenting the status of women receiving Social Security and for his remark "You've got scrub out the equation, the AARP, the committee for the preservation of Social Security and Medicare, the gray panthers, the pink panthers."

It looks like someone needs his nap (transcript from Firedoglake):

From: Alan K. Simpson
Sent: Monday, August 23, 2010 6:52 PM
To: Owl
Subject: To Ashley Carson re 4/27/10 article

Ashley B. Carson Executive Director, OWL

Dear Ms. Carson,

Someone was good enough to forward me your column of “Enough with the Pink Panthers Bit” of April 27, 2010.

Some of what you say is true. Much is not – but that’s nothing new about public life for me! I have news for you too, my friend. There may be no group called the Pink Panthers working to protect Social Security but I sure as hell am! I’ve spent many years in public life trying to stabilize that system while people like you babble into the vapors about “disgusting attempts at ageism and sexism” and all the rest of that crap.

Now hold on tight, because you won’t like what I’m sending you. You may obviously be aware that the Social Security system is “in trouble.” If you don’t agree with that, then there is no need to read any further. But I wish to share with you the presentation by Stephen C. Goss, Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration on May 12, 2010 to the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. If you think the statistics on poverty for seniors are alarming – then you need to read this little pamphlet to know what is really alarming.

If we can’t get a handle on this system and make it sustainable and assure long term solvency, and make some changes that are “minor” at the present time and will become “major” as each year passes, then take a look at the chart on Page 6 which I hope you are able to discern if you are any good at reading graphs – or anything that might challenge your biases and prejudices.

Anyway, have a look at it and if you should choose, you might communicate with me. If you have some better suggestions about how to stabilize Social Security instead of just babbling into the vapors, let me know. And yes, I’ve made some plenty smart cracks about people on Social Security who milk it to the last degree. You know ‘em too. It’s the same with any system in America. We’ve reached a point now where it’s like a milk cow with 310 million tits! Call when you get honest work!


As Ms. Carson pointed out in April and former Senator Simpson now acknowledges, there is no "Pink Panthers" group associated with the issue of Social Security. Called on his apparent bias against women, he transitions into bias against the elderly, calling on Ms. Carson to "get honest work," decrying individuals who "babble into the vapors," and disintegrating into sexual crudity.

There have been several calls for Simpson's resignation and Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) have written President Obama, noting

Despite the many years of distinguished public service former Sen. Simpson has dedicated to this country, his recent e-mail indicates that it is no longer appropriate for him to serve on the bipartisan deficit reduction commission. Therefore, in order for your commission's recommendations to have credibility with Congress, we respectfully urge you to remove Sen. Simpson from the commission....

While there are honest differences of opinion as to how best to tackle this growing problem, we should all be in agreement that everyone working in this area — especially someone in as important a position as the [co-chairman] of your National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform — has a responsibility to be as serious, deliberate and sober as the challenges we face.

This is not the first time the impulsive Alan Simpson has acted out. In June, Alex Lawson of Social Security Works caught Simpson coming out of one of the meetings of his National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, resulting in an agitated Simpson charging

We’re trying to take care of the lesser people in society and do that in a way without getting into all the flash words you love dig up, like cutting Social Security, which is bullshit. We’re not cutting anything, we’re trying to make it solvent.

Temperament aside, Simpson is trying to undermine Social Security while co-chairman of a commission charged with addressing the national debt, in which Social Security plays no role. After viewing the Lawson-Simpson video, economist James K. Galbraith testified before the commission, explaining

I note from Chairman Simpson’s conversation with Alex Lawson that the Commission has taken up the questions of the alleged “insolvency” of the Social Security system and of Medicare. If true, this is far outside any mandate of the Commission. Your mandate is strictly limited to matters relating to the deficit, debt-to-GDP ratio and fiscal stability of the U.S. Government as a whole.....(Social Security) is a transfer program and not a program of public spending in the economic sense. In particular it does not use capital resources and will not drive up interest rates.

Simpson now has issued to the OWL a non-apology apology, in which the subject invokes a form of the word "apology" to avoid saying that he/she was wrong for making a comment, which was misinterpreted. Still, it was something that could be labeled an "apology" and was good enough for the one person whose support really matters, as indicated by the statement from Obama spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki:

Alan Simpson has apologized and while we regret and do not condone his comments, we accept his apology and he will continue to serve.

Alan K. Simpson may not understand the Social Security system and does not hesitate to offend women or elderly people. But he is just fine by Barack Obama because when it comes to undermining one of the most popular and successful government programs in United States history, there can be no better ally for a transformative president.

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