“Simpson-Bowles” Targeting Seniors, Again … & Again
Last Sunday Erskine Bowles of “Simpson-Bowles” fame told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria that President Obama had not asked him to take over as Treasury Secretary when Timothy Geithner leaves the job and further, that he wouldn’t take the post if it were offered.
To paraphrase columnist George Will’s comment on George Romney seeking Donald Trump’s support, why would the President even consider such a bad idea?
Reuters says speculation about who might take the post in the event Obama returns to the White House after November has engaged in by “economists, investors and veterans of past administrations.”
Bowles was President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff. He came to the job straight from Wall Street. He’s a partner at private equity firm Forstmann Little & Co, a founding partner Carousel Capital, and was among the brass at Morgan Stanley, North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Co., General Motors, Belk stores, real estate developer Cousins Properties and Norfolk Southern railway. Last September, he became a member of the Board of Directors at (stay seated) Facebook.
“Erskine has held important roles in government, academia and business, which have given him insight into how to build organizations and navigate complex issues,” said Facebook honcho Mark Zuckerberg.
In 2010, Bowles was appointed by Obama to co-chair the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform with Alan K. Simpson. The commission labored for months and, alas, was unable to come up with a report that its 18 members could agree upon. In the end, Bowles and Simpson issued a report in their own name, and since that time has been promoted as the “Simpson-Bowles report” issued by “the President’s own deficit reduction commission” which it was not. Like Dracula in the moonlight it pops up with each news cycle.
Last Sunday, just so we wouldn’t forget it, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman inserted the term “Simpson-Bowles” five times in one column. He wrote that enacting its provisions would fix the country’s ailing economy by “trimming future growth in Medicare and Social Security and reforming taxes.” (Advocates of this scheme usually avoid indicating how taxes would be reformed, whether it would mean more revenue, and whose taxes would be affected).
A central feature of “Simpson-Bowles” is it would reduce resources available to seniors and people with disabilities and would raise the retirement age. For this it has earned the sobriquet “Catfood Commission,” a reference to the practice of elderly turning to pet food when their meager incomes are depleted by the cost of things like heating oil and housing.
Back in August 2012, Bowles’ partner in all this, Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.), sent out an email that described Social Security as a "milk cow with 310 million tits" that prompted calls for his removal as commission co-chair. However, after he was said to have apologized for the remark, a White House spokesperson said that while the Administration regretted the remark, Simpson would nonetheless remain in the position.
Simpson and Bowles were in California in April to rally support for their joint report before an audience at Oakland’s Paramount Theater where they were met by picketers from a number of Bay Area senior and disability advocacy organizations. Simpson was not amused. He later sent a letter, on Senate stationary, to the California Alliance for Retired Americans saying “What a wretched group of seniors you must be to use the faces of the very people 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 bullshit.”
The diatribe concluded, “If you can’t understand all of this you need a pane of glass in your naval [or, perhaps, navel] so you can see out during the day!”
"The American people deserve and expect a true dialogue in which retirees are more than 'greedy geezers' and those with opposing world views aren’t treated with the total disrespect you hand out so freely,” Max Richman, chief executive of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, and a former staff director of the Senate Committee on Aging, shot back in a letter to the former senator asking, “isn’t it long past time to elevate the conversation beyond personal and profane attacks on those you simply disagree with?" He called upon Simpson to "cease and desist with the mean-spirited...and hate-filled personal attacks on America's seniors."
And to think one of this dynamic duo might have been poised to be put in charge of our country’s finances. It causes one to shudder.
BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member Carl Bloice is a writer in San Francisco, a member of the National Coordinating Committee of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism and formerly worked for a healthcare union. Click here to contact Mr. Bloice.