Immediately after appointment to chair the Fiscal Commission, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson opened fire on Social Security. Their theme: reining in the federal deficit requires reducing Social Security benefits. So what happened?
The insiders in Washington really really want to cut Social Security, and they are prepared to say or do anything to do it. Among the latest lines is that they want to make Social Security more "progressive."
It would be great if those touting concerns about the deficit were actually interested in having an informed national debate on the economy. But their agenda is to scare millions of voters into giving up the Social Security and Medicare benefits.
Any weakening of Social Security (which could happen if a proposed payroll tax 'holiday' passes) would devastate communities of color who are heavily reliant on Social Security's retirement, disability, and survivor's benefits.
Tea Party acolytes had among their core message two principles: First, Congress should move quickly to end out of control deficit spending. Second, Congress should stop lying to the American people. Well, so much for that election.
Widespread claims that Social Security can't pay its bills, or that the trust fund will be depleted by the time today's children are ready to collect their benefits, are false. To the contrary, it's one of the most successful social programs of all time.
If the president can let go of his attachment to his postpartisan self-image and embrace the policies Americans want and need, they can be his North Star. But he needs to get over his reflexive distaste for the "old dogma" of the "left."
Under Clinton, we went from a $290 billion deficit in 1992 to a $239 billion surplus in 2000 while creating over 20 million private sector jobs. That's no coincidence; job creation and deficit reduction are inextricably linked.
The Deficit Commission issued its report, and the president has a problem. Like Frankenstein, he built a creature from discarded parts and it took on a life of its own. And like its fictional counterpart, it's threatening to destroy its creator.
Does he really mean to say that, in our working years, we help pay for the modest Social Security benefits received by the parents who fed, clothed, educated and housed us? What perfidy. What selfishness.
We're being told the final draft of the proposal is fairer than its predecessor. It's nothing of the kind. In many ways it's worse than the draft that preceded it, and those much-lauded "compromises" evaporate in the cold light of reality.