Monday, July 30, 2012

Granny Bird Award: Simpson-Bowles Enthusiasts

This edition of the Granny Bird Award (given from time to time to those who go out of their way to damage elders' rights and benefits) goes to those who continue to support the disastrous Simpson-Bowles "Grand Compromise", including those Democrats who have sold their souls on the issue.

After nearly a year of exposing the Simpson-Bowles report (which did not get the support of the Super Committee of which it was a part) for what it was, a gift to Wall Street, you'd think it would be dead. You would be wrong: vampires and the undead are in this year.

Fortunately, there are still people who are paying attention, people like Michael Hiltzig of the Los Angeles Times who notes that the report always brings to mind that classic cartoon sequence of Wiley Coyote, treading air, as he jumps off the cliff to catch the Roadrunner.

Is it that the debate over when and how to cure the federal deficit has reached new heights of cartoonish inanity? That we are now being treated to finger-wagging about the need to get our fiscal house in order by corporate CEOs like JPMorgan Chase's Jamie Dimon (trading loss $5.8 billion and counting, potential cost to ratepayers from alleged manipulation of the California electricity market $200 million and counting).

Or is it that the remedies for the deficit always seem to involve cutting taxes for the top 1% of U.S. income earners while cutting Social Security retirement benefits (average monthly check: $1,230) for everyone else? ...

...there's still reason for most Americans to fear the deal-making aimed at avoiding the fiscal cliff. For one thing, the debate seems increasingly to be driven by the wealthy, who can be trusted to protect their own prerogatives while declaring everyone else's to be wasteful. Just two weeks ago, a squadron of CEOs and bankers, including Dimon and hedge fund billionaire Pete Peterson, lined up behind a campaign to impose adult supervision on our squabbling Congress. ...

The Simpson-Bowles plan has inexplicably become the starting point for deficit cutters in both parties. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), who in 2010 pronounced a draft version "simply unacceptable," more recently has signaled that she'd support it.
[Emphasis added]

Say what?

A plan to cut Medicare costs by forcing the elders to pay for vouchers for care they've already paid for by withholding taxes the past 30 or so years? Pelosi is in favor of such a plan? She'd garner votes in the House for that?

But, again, there's more:

In any environment of serious debate, Simpson-Bowles would be dismissed out of hand. Praised for its sober bipartisan spirit, it's a compendium of flatulent platitudes ("We all have a patriotic duty to make America better off tomorrow than it is today"), vague prescriptions ("cut all excess spending" and "avoid excessive taxation" — as if reaching broad agreement on the meaning of "excessive" is a snap), and the occasional nostrum that earns a "not" on the gonna-happen scale (strip down the mortgage-interest deduction). According to some estimates by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, the plan's sample cuts in the tax deductions wouldn't replace the revenue lost to its proposed reductions in marginal tax rates. ...

The single program getting the bulk the Simpson-Bowles plan's attention is Social Security, which in fact contributes not a dime to the federal deficit, and can't by law. Something else is at work here other than deficit reduction: It's a plan to cut benefits to seniors by ratcheting back on inflation protection and sharply cutting the benefit formula for everyone, starting with those whose average lifetime earnings are $9,000 a year.

What's riskiest about Washington's peculiar approach to deficit cutting, which erodes the programs most important to working Americans while preserving those enjoyed by the wealthy, is that it could sap the resolve of President Obama and his Democratic colleagues to end tax cuts on high levels of income while extending them for average and low-income earners.
[Emphasis added]


Once again, this "Grand Compromise" gives everything to the Wall Street Banksters and their 1% owners and nothing to the rest of us. We didn't cause the financial melt-down. Social Security didn't screw up the economy. Why is this set of lies still getting any currency?

Hiltzig has a response to that: much as corporate CEOs and other privileged incumbents claim they're concerned about the future, it's their future they mean.


Maybe it's time we start insisting that our future, and that of our children and grandchildren, the ones who will actually be paying for this nonsense, receive some attention.

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