Simpson & Bowles Show Deficit Commission Is Cover For An Agenda

Dave Johnson

Watch Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, the co-chairs of the White House deficit commission, on Morning Joe, conflating Social Security and the budget deficit.

They have released their own “plan,” separate from what the deficit commission might release, allow the press to refer to it as the commission’s plan, and say they are sticking with it no matter what the commission does. Why? It is clear these two came into this with an agenda to attack Social Security, and are using their role on the commission as cover for their agenda.

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Here are a couple of facts to keep in mind while watching this video:

  • Social Security by law cannot borrow, so cannot contribute to the deficit. It faces a possible shortfall in 2037 which might mean temporary cuts of 20%. That is the entire extent of any “problem” with Social Security. Compare this to the urgency of unemployment, or the astonishing waste of our military budget. We do have a budget deficit, caused by tax cuts for the rich and military spending increases even after the Soviet Union fell, and by future increases in health care costs. This deficit will be a problem in the future. But the solution to that problem has nothing to do with Social Security.
  • Deficit Commission member Rep. Jan Schakowsky also released a plan. Her plan fixes the deficit by cutting excess military spending, closing tax loopholes on giant corporations, restoring top tax rates and leaving Social Security alone. She was not invited to be on the show. In fact, as Richard (RJ) Eskow points out, her plan is largely being ignored in the corporate media.

Agenda: Simpson and Bowles say they won’t compromise their plan to get 14 votes from the commission. What does that mean to a commission that is not supposed to release any plan without getting 14 votes? This clearly demonstrates that Simpson and Bowles have an agenda apart from the goals of the deficit commission.

Scarborough: Explain the recommendations and why they have to be passed.

Once again, this is supposed to be about a commission that reaches 14 votes before they release recommendations, and which has not released any recommendations.

Simpson: This is wonderful because they have irritated almost everyone in the country.

Somehow the idea of releasing something that no one agrees with goes along with the virtuous “pain prescription,” the idea that making people suffer is somehow a good thing.

Simpson: We got to go where the meat is, health care, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security.

Actually the “meat” is military spending and tax cuts for the rich, which caused the deficits in the first place. There is serious “meat” to be cut when we spend more on the military than all other countries on Earth combined.

Bowles: Social Security runs out of money in 2037, and benefits will drop by 22%.

Interesting logic. Because there might be a 22% cut way in the future means we should cut Social Security by more than 22% now? Does that really make sense to anyone?

Pat Buchanan points out that we have a Soviet Union-fighting level of military spending, but no more Soviet Union. Scarborough immediately steers the discussion back to Social Security.

And so on.

Why is most of the discussion of the deficit about Social Security, which in fact does not contribute to the deficit? That is an agenda, not a plan.

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