Apologies for the lengthy post, but it’s worth a read.
Well, maybe moderate isn’t exactly an apt description. I’m talking about Alan Simpson. He’s an oddity. For the most, part I agreed with his politics, but, he never seemed to quit embrace the brand of conservatism I wish he would have. His politics were too middle-of-the-road for me. But, that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a great appreciation for some of his responses to his detractors. The man had a sharp wit, tongue, and pen. Today, I see that he still has good command of that skill set.
It started with an idiotic letter posted at HuffPo. The letter was written by Nancy Altman and Eric Kingson Co-directors, Social Security Works. It was written to Erskine Bowles,
Co-Chair National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. That’s the taskforce put together to fix our financial woes, by the President, with the House and Senate choosing the members. Alan Simpson is the co-chair. The letter stated,
Dear Mr. Bowles:
While we have extremely serious objections to the Social Security provisions proposed in the Bowles-Simpson plan and, indeed, its inclusion at all in a deficit reduction package, this is not why we are writing. Our request of you concerns basic human decency and the promotion of civil political discourse.
In a recent letter to the California Alliance for Retired Americans, former Senator Alan Simpson, …., has again crossed the boundary of civility. Mr. Simpson wrote: “What a wretched group of seniors you must be to use the faces of the very people that we are trying to save, while the “greedy geezers” like you use them as a tool and a front for your nefarious bunch of crap. You must feel some sense of shame for shoveling out this bulls**t.”
……. …that middle aged and younger working persons and their families will be most harmed by the deep cuts you propose to Social Security. But we assume that you do not disagree about the uncivil — indeed bigoted — name calling employed by your plan’s co-author. ……..Two years ago, he publicly described Social Security as “a milk cow with 310 million tits!”
We ask that you publicly repudiate Mr. Simpson’s mean-spirited and bigoted remarks. …… To show that you oppose bigotry in every form, we urge you to no longer make media appearances with Mr. Simpson.
Mr. Simpson has a history of using crass language and demeaning stereotypes ……
The failure to speak out about his use of invective reinforces the media’s and some politicians’ inclinations to give Mr. Simpson a pass ………After all, some would say, “he’s just a salty old guy. He’s courageous because he speaks his mind. …..
…….. Thus, we ask that you disassociate yourself from Mr. Simpson and from his rhetorical excesses that are more fitted to a classroom bully than a former United States Senator.
The ellipses were simply more of the whining about what a mean guy Simpson is. It’s typical leftist duplicity and hypocrisy. You can read it in its entirety here.
But, Mr. Bowles didn’t respond, Alan Simpson did.
I have seen the “open letter” that you addressed to my fine and most able partner Erskine Bowles and posted on Huffington Post for the whole wide world to see. This has reached the point of the pathetic, absurd and wretched excess. And your accusations of “bigotry” on my part are nothing more than pure McCarthyism. I’m damned tired of people who use emotion, fear, guilt and racism to stir up their troops for their own benefit, and not for our nation’s.
It would have been an intelligent step to have taken the time to review my entire record throughout public life before tossing such a loaded term as bigotry. Had you had done so, you would have discovered that I have been a strong and vocal ally of the gay and lesbian community in their constant fight against bigotry and discrimination. I consider abortion to be a deeply personal and intimate issue for women and I don’t believe male legislators should even vote on the issue. I was the Simpson in the “Simpson-Mazzoli” immigration reform legislation of 1986 that brought three million immigrants into legal status and out of the dark. But it was much more clever for you to ignore these inconvenient parts of my public record that didn’t fit your effort to portray me as a mean-spirited bigot.
You may have also seen that I am an equal opportunity offender and call out ideological extremists on both sides. Many on your end of the political spectrum take sadistic glee invoking my name and quoting me when I am calling out the likes of Grover Norquist for insisting on rigid ideological purity or criticizing those in my own party who refuse to compromise without looking in the mirror and realizing that they are the ones doing the same.
I do not use the term “greedy geezers” to apply to all seniors, just those who insist that Social Security and Medicare must be sacrosanct and left completely off the table for any discussion about our nation’s financial and fiscal future without regard to the other dire needs facing our nation. Indeed, in the days since this dust-up began, I have heard from many ….expressing dismay at the intransigent approach taken by organizations such as yours who purport to speak for them.They fully understand that these extraordinary programs face severe jeopardy if we fail to act, and if we don’t soon deal with our rapidly growing debt today’s young people will face a truly bleak future. But the folks at the California Alliance of Retired Americans and others of their ilk shriek like gut shot panthers whenever someone dares to suggest any rational changes to Social Security or Medicare and obviously don’t seem to be at all concerned about anything or anyone else — so long as they “get theirs.”
Your concern about the civility of public debate is most interesting given some of the things you have said about the proposal……to make Social Security financially sound for future generations. I recall you wrote that our plan would “effectively end Social Security as we know it” and accused the Gang of Six in the Senate of “holding a gun to the head of Social Security” for taking the position that Social Security solvency needed to be part of any fiscal plan. Those statements are neither civil nor accurate. I noticed you made no effort to correct the CARA crowd and others who claimed that Erskine and I were out to “privatize” Social Security even though our report said nothing of the sort.
……. You know full well that without action future retirees will face an immediate 25 percent across-the-board benefit cut for all current and future beneficiaries in 2033, regardless of age or income. Surely you could not think this is an acceptable outcome? Yet that is exactly what will happen if you and others who demonize any effort to make changes in Social Security “get your way.”
Under our plan, the benefits for the younger workers …will be higher than what current law can pay, for all but maximum earners, and all future beneficiaries will have inflation-adjusted benefits larger than those received by equivalent beneficiaries today. Contrary to the assertions made by many of our critics that our plan “goes easy” on wealthier individuals, our plan would require higher wage earners to both pay more in payroll taxes and accept the largest reductions in benefits,with maximum wage earners being the only group to have lower benefits than they would have under current law. We were able to use a portion of the savings from this group to pay for a minimum benefit providing stronger poverty protection for low income workers than under current law and an extra “bump” for the older old who are at greatest risk of poverty after exhausting other retirement savings.
t’s quite true that we recommended an increase in the eligibility age by one year 40 years from now and by one more year 65 years from now. We felt this gave folks plenty of time to “get ready.” Even with this increase in the eligibility age, future retirees will still spend more years in retirement and receive substantially higher lifetime benefits in inflation adjusted terms than current retirees. We also provided for a hardship exemption for up to 20% of the retirees in order to protect those who may not qualify for disability benefits, but who are physically unable to work beyond the current earliest eligibility age.
You know well these things, or at least you surely should if you have taken the time to read and understand our plan. Yet you choose to leave these inconvenient facts out of all of your dramatic and near hysterical talk about the “devastating” cuts in our plan and how evil and terrible it will be for those who will depend on the protections offered by Social Security. I could go on and on about all of the other inaccuracies, terminological inexactitudes and outright lies that have been spread around our plan which was embraced by 11 of the 18 commission members including five Republicans, five Democrats and one Independent. …
I am sure there are some who would join you in wishing that Erskine and I would just “shut up and go away,” but I assure you, that’s not going to happen. The American public is tired of hearing bullshit and mush, and are thirsting for the truth.The need to deal with the growing fiscal dangers facing our nation is not going away, and neither are we. We are here to serve the children and grandchildren and the entire American public. You are apparently here to selfishly preserve and protect your own skins by frightening seniors — and young people — into thinking you are somehow vital to their futures. How sad.
I’m not sure how sensitive Altman and Kingson are. But, if they’re near as sensitive as they claim, they’re in a corner sobbing right now. They either didn’t know Alan Simpson or thought he too old to respond. But, at 80…. he’s still got it.
Read his letter in its entirety here.