Alan Simpson, former US Senator from Wyoming and current Co-Chair of the President's Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, has crossed the line. We're all entitled to our own opinions, but not our own facts. And when he didn't like the facts, he took to personal insults and profanity. Check out his outrageous email to Ashley Carson, Executive Director of the Older Women's League, in response to her blog post from April.
Mr. Simpson dismisses the voice of advocates, stating that, "people like [OWL] babble into the vapors about 'disgusting attempts at ageism and sexism' and all the rest of that crap." This is at best inappropriate and lays bare his contempt for those who dare speak truth to power and protect those among us who are least able to advocate for themselves against the likes of Mr. Simpson. And apparently being disgusted by ageism and sexism is not worth his time. I guess it's ok to discriminate when you're a wealthy ex-senator.
Further, Mr. Simpson seems not to understand what Social Security is or how it if funded, claiming that "people on Social Security...milk it to the last degree." The fact is that Social Security is only paying out to beneficiaries money they invested in the program. It's not a lottery winning or a gift - any more than the bank giving you back what you've deposited in your savings account is a gift. If he is referring to Americans who receive disability payments, or children who receive survivor benefits, perhaps he is simply out of touch with the realities of those less fortunate than he has been. Apparently Mr. Simpson thinks American workers do not deserve to get back the money they paid in, or that they are less deserving of having their bonds paid than China, which also holds billions of dollars in US Treasury bonds. (That's right, when they talk about cutting the deficit by cutting Social Security, they're talking about defaulting on the bonds Social Security holds. Don't worry, they'll pay China - but it's ok to short American workers?)
But the greatest problem that Mr. Simpson demonstrates in this ranting email is his disrespect for women, along with a complete disdain for all government programs that help anyone, which is in line with his numerous statements decrying "entitlement" programs: "It's the same with any system in America. We've reached a point now where it's like a milk cow with 310 million tits!" (You, like me, may be wondering if this is really him - we checked his email and even called his assistant's phone - unless someone has hacked into his email, msnbc's website, and his assistant's phone, this is legit. But it's not out of character - check out this video from earlier this summer.) Such disrespect and vulgarity are characteristics not of a rational, bipartisan leader, but of a ranting ideologue bent on destroying a program that keeps millions of older American out of poverty.
Finally, my outrage turns to disgust at the suggestions that working on behalf of low-income older women is somehow not "honest work!" With people like Mr. Simpson, who is so clearly dedicated to undermining the social fabric of our country, co-chairing a commission that is intended to take a serious look at our nation's deficit woes, and suggesting that advocating for those who will be most harmed by the cuts he promotes is somehow dishonest or deceitful, he shows his true colors. Mr. Simpson is hamstrung by his own biases and prejudices, and unwilling to engage in a positive discussion with those who oppose his dogma. These are not the actions of a leader.
OWL sent a letter, along with a copy of Mr. Simpson's email, of course, to President Obama, demanding the resignation (or removal - we're flexible) of Alan Simpson from the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. We've also started an online petition, and joined with the National Council of Women's organizations to demand a better choice from the President. Call it a Women's Equality Day present - it's this Thursday, August 26. Mr. Simpson's sort of elitist, sexist, ageist and disrespectful thinking have no place in the serious conversations in Washington that affect us on Main Street. Don't let Alan Simpson steal your retirement. At the rate we're going, we're going to need every penny.