Wyoming Republican Alan Simpson has a pretty low opinion of the people that have paid into Social Security all their lives and now need something back.
The co-chair of President Barack Obama’s bipartisan deficit commission lashed out at seniors Wednesday because they are unhappy with his ideas for reducing the deficit by cutting Social Security benefits while reducing corporate taxes.
“I’ve never had any nastier mail or [been in a] more difficult position in my life,” Simpson told Jeremy Pelzer at the Casper Star-Tribune. “Just vicious. People I’ve known, relatives [saying], ‘You son of a bitch. How could you do this?'”
The draft report released by Simpson along with co-Chair Erskine Bowles proposed raising the retirement age to 69 by 2070. Additionally, 90 percent of Social Security income would be taxable, as opposed to 82.5 percent as is currently projected.
Critics of the proposal have dubbed the group the “catfood commission” because seniors who see their benefits cut would have to reduce their expenses or find additional sources of income.
“We had the greatest generation,” Simpson said. “I think this is the greediest generation.”
Referring to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow as “that,” the commission co-chair blamed political polarization for the attacks on him.
“You don’t want to listen to the right and the left — the extremes,” he said. “You don’t want to listen to Keith Olbermann and Rush Babe [Limbaugh] and Rachel Minnow [sic] or whatever that is, and Glenn Beck. They’re entertainers. They couldn’t govern their way out of a paper sack — from the right or the left. But they get paid a lot of money from you and advertisers — thirty, fifty million a year — to work you over and get you juiced up with emotion, fear, guilt, and racism. Emotion, fear, guilt, and racism.”
One contributor to the liberal website Daily Kos believes that Simpson “doesn’t apparently understand the program that it has been his life’s mission to destroy.”
“[H]is perspective indicates something even more vile: a belief that people’s sole source of income, their very livelyhood, is some sort of mass generosity. It isn’t,” wrote brooklynbadboy. “Instead of working all your life and then spending your elder years destitute, why not take care of the old people now and then when you get old, you’ll get yours. It’s a deal, not a handout.”
I don’t see how you can reach consensus with someone like this. There is no middle ground between people who think Social Security is a government handout and reality. To malign people who have worked their entire lives and kept their end of the bargain, he says to them, essentially “you’re beat.” You cant negotiate with a guy like that. He doesn’t believe in keeping his end of the deal. In fact, there is a word for people who take money and then don’t hold up their end of a bargain: a thief. I say it is that person who is truly greedy.
It’s not the first time Simpson’s comments about Social Security have raised eyebrows. In an August email, he described the program as a “milk cow with 310 million tits!”
Simpson told Ashley Carson, executive director of the Older Women’s League, that those who oppose cuts to Social Security are “Gray Panthers” and “Pink Panthers.”
After his remarks, The New York Times‘ Paul Krugman called on the president to remove Simpson from the deficit commission.
“At this point, though, Obama is on the spot: he has to fire Simpson, or turn the whole thing into a combination of farce and tragedy — the farce being the nature of the co-chair, the tragedy being that Democrats are so afraid of Republicans that nothing, absolutely nothing, will get them sanctioned,” wrote Krugman.
But White House press secretary Robert Gibbs confirmed to reporters that Simpson wouldn’t lose his job. “We regret that he sent that e-mail,” Gibbs said. We don’t condone those comments. But Senator Simpson has and will continue to serve on the commission.”
Simpson later released an email to Carson apologizing. “I can see that my remarks have caused you anguish, and that was not my intention.”
Simpson’s remarks to the Star-Tribune were first noticed by Talking Points Memo.