Back in 1894, Nobel Prize-winning writer Anatole France made an astute observation:
“The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”
If he was around today, he might update his observation like this:
“In their wisdom, the co-chairs of the deficit reduction commission suggest that the rich and the poor wait until they’re 69 years old to collect their full Social Security pensions and to live with reduced cost-of-living adjustments.”
He might also note that the co-chairs, one a former Republican senator from Wyoming, Alan Simpson, and the other former Democratic presidential chief of staff and Morgan Stanley board member Erskine Bowles, think it would be a good idea that both the rich and the poor learned to get with less help Medicare, give up their mortgage interest deduction and pay for admission to the Smithsonian Museum for the good of the country.
This is 21st century America’s contribution to the evolution of shared sacrifice. The rich will have to suffer cuts in their Social Security benefits right along with the poor in order to achieve the greater good of reducing the deficit.
Of course there’s good news: under the co-chairs’ proposal, neither rich nor poor will have tp pay additional taxes on the profits they make speculating on the economy.
Simpson and Bowles’ recommendations are being hailed in the upper reaches of the establishment. David Broder intones from his perch at the Washington Post that the proposals are like “a cold shower after a night of heavy drinking. It’s time to sober up.”
Meanwhile President Obama acknowledged he’s facing “tough choices.”
Translation: he would really, really like to help the middle-class and the less fortunate if only the other bad politicians (and the deficit commission he himself appointed, stacking it with members who have advocated cutting social security) would let him.
The deficit commission chair’s proposals are nothing more than a continuation of the bailout and the financial crisis policies started under the Bush administration and continued under the Obama administration, with the by now familiar cast of winners and losers. These proposals require the middle-class and less affluent to bear the burden of decades of disastrous policies, while those who benefited from those policies continue to avoid paying any costs for the consequences.
Simpson and Bowles are just the latest advocates waging a massive propaganda campaign in an attempt to convince people that Social Security is the main drag on the deficit. While the deficit is a serious problem, it’s not the fault of Social Security. And the deficit is not even the most serious problem facing our economy – it’s high unemployment and the foreclosure crisis. In their proposals, Simpson and Bowles don’t acknowledge that economic reality.
The full deficit commission issues its report in less than 2 weeks. Why not contact them here and let them know what you think? If they don’t want to stop peddling propaganda I know a couple of bridges where their reports could be put to good use, keeping away the cold.