I've been saying for a while now that the real threat to Social Security isn't just the privatization hawks like Pete Peterson or retirement age experimenters like John Boehner, but also President Obama's bipartisan Catfood Commission. Here we have a Democratic president, who has appointed a panel designed for the sole purpose of making drastic changes to benefits.
Of course, Republicans will have a long, difficult task ahead of them if they desire to privatize Social Security. Dubya tried that, and he failed simply because the program is wildly popular among people who don't wish to starve in their twilight years. However, what the panel may succeed in is striking one of the infamous Washington "compromises" wherein Republicans win and Democrats lose, but pretend they've won.
See: healthcare. Democrats immediately abandoned the extremely popular universal healthcare option in pursuit of the public option, also a popular choice, which they also abandoned. And then they said they won. Hooray.
Republicans may not be able to win total privatization, but they could "compromise" with Democrats and raise the retirement age, Bohner's cause du jour, and both parties will claim victory even though citizens ultimately lose. This strategy definitely appears to be the favored approach of Alan Simpson, Co-Chair of the Catfood Commission, who recently wrote in an email that Social Security is "like a milk cow with 310 million tits." The email was addressed to OWL chief Ashley Carson, whose work, preserving the dignity of middle-aged and elderly women, Simpson describes as not "honest work." He also refers to Carson and Company as the "Pink Panthers."
Of course, this isn't the first time Simpson has completely lost his mind and revealed his true colors. Alex Lawson had this run-in with pissy Father Time back in June:
SIMPSON (regarding Social Security): It'll go broke in 2037.
LAWSON: What do you mean by 'broke'? Do you mean the surplus will go out and then it will only be able to pay 75% of its benefits?
SIMPSON: Just listen to me instead of babbling ...
Simpson then goes on to affirm Lawson's statement (without apology, of course.) But he resumes the fearmongering a minute later:
SIMPSON: ... There is not enough in the system by the month ... to pay out what comes in. In other words there is more going out than coming in. That happened 3 or 4 weeks ago.
LAWSON: ... Social Security is separate, though, from the general budget, right? It's totally in the green.
SIMPSON: But it wasn't. Just four weeks ago, there wasn't as much coming in as going out.
LAWSON: Except you're not calculating the interest paid on the bonds, because, if you do include that, it's still in the green this year.
SIMPSON: Well you can go through all the sophistry of babbling that you want to.
LAWSON: It's not sophistry. It's just what the SSA says. So I'm just going on the numbers.
LAWSON: ... (W)hat about the $180 billion in surplus that (Social Security) brings in every year?
SIMPSON: There is no surplus in there. It's a bunch of IOUs.
LAWSON: That's what I wanted to actually get at.
SIMPSON: Listen. Listen. It's 2.5 trillion bucks in IOUs which have been used to build the interstate highway system and all of the things people have enjoyed since it has been setup.
LAWSON: Two wars, tax cuts for the wealthy.
SIMPSON: Whatever, whatever. You pick your crap and I'll pick the real stuff. It has to do with the highway system, it was to run America. And those are IOUs in there. And now there is not enough coming in every month ...
See, paying trillions for wars, tax cuts for the wealthy, and bailouts isn't "real." The only thing that's real in Alan Simpson's world is his quest to fend off moderate tax increases on the wealthy so they don't have to start paying back a country that has fattened them with tax breaks.
Over the past few decades, the Wall Street barons have suckled greedily at the national cow tit, but apparently that's fine because some of the milk trickled down to poor people. Except, now there isn't any more sustenance, and now Simpson and his merry band of thieves are robbing the program that's supposed to have guaranteed milk for the drone workers after their lifetime of indentured servitude.
Simpson will fight fairness to the death, while grandma stands on line at the soup kitchen wondering why she bothered working those fifty years.