Friday, October 01, 2010

Maybe Alan Simpson is in for a bigger fight than he thought

CBS News reported yesterday that
[a] group of Democrats today pressed President Obama's bipartisan fiscal commission, which is will be putting fourth recommendations on December 1st to reduce the deficit, not to include any cuts to Social Security when they do.

The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform "should keep their paws off" Social Security, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) said on a phone call with reporters, calling for "no benefit cuts, no raising the retirement age, no privatization."

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said explicitly that the purpose of the call was to warn the commission not to include recommendations to cut Social Security. "If you do we'll vote it down, and do everything we can to see it defeated," he said.
On another front, a letter circulated among members of the House by Rep. Raul Grijalva vowing to vote down the Commission's recommendations if they include any cuts in Social Security (including raising the retirement age) now has 102 signers - including five members of the Blue Dog coalition.

I can't help but wonder if this passion for keeping the system intact will melt away in the face of White House stubbornness and eagerness to placate conservatives, just as similar passion melted in the health care debate. Still, it's good to at least see some overt pushback on the moves to use Social Security as the sacrificial lamb on the altar of deficit reduction, to be presented as a burnt offering to the gods of the banks and investment houses and yes I know that was an incredibly strained bit of imagery. It's still good to see open resistance to cutting SS among members of Congress.

Yes, of course there's a Footnote: As another example of "know your sources," in its own short article on the Democrats' statement, The Hill referred to both "the nation's looming debt crisis" and "the looming fiscal crisis." But perhaps "looming," with all its overtones of imminent danger (How much more imminent can danger be than a "looming crisis?") was just the Word-of-the-Day at the place - especially since the same article also referred to the "looming elections."

More seriously, it described Sherrod Brown as having "argued that working class citizens couldn't reasonably survive an older retirement age," a statement that seems to make little sense and reads as thought The Hill wrote it with a smirk. What Brown really said was that
while raising the retirement age may not seem like a big deal to white collar workers, it would be devastating for people who work on their feet, such as a waitress or a carpenter.
Or a nurse. It's amazing to me how we already seem to have forgotten that not that long ago, 65 was the "normal" retirement age and that we have already repeatedly raised that age. Now, normal retirement age is 66 for those born between 1943 and 1954 and stretches out to 67 for those born in or after 1960. To further stretch that out to 70, as some GOPpers have proposed, would indeed be a cruel thing for people whose bodies can be so worn by the stresses of their work that they look forward to retiring at 62, despite the reduced benefits, just to be able to be away from it. But somehow I doubt that is something that Sir Boehner of Orange or Lord Alan - or Lord Erskine, for that matter - have ever considered.

It surely is something The Hill didn't.

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