Extreme Liberal's Blog

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Let’s Demagogue The Deficit Commission Now, What A Great Plan!

Presidents have been creating commissions since the beginning of our Republic, it’s become a cliché’ over the years whenever a difficult decision has to be made or some horrible disaster needs to be investigated or a president wants to dodge an issue. So any commission starts out handicapped for sure. I usually react by shaking my head and saying “not another one” when I hear about the latest commission, whether it be a R or D president doing it. I reacted much the same way when President Obama created the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Now just because I shake my head when these things are created, doesn’t mean that I don’t think they can produce results that might be of use or help to clarify things. I also never waste my time tracking a commission because it is an exercise in futility for a couple of reasons. First, because during the process, the sources of information are usually pushing their own agenda and feed the starving “media beast” what they are promoting and try to scare people about what others are promoting. Second, a commission simply produces a report that the President and Congress sometimes agree with and other times doesn’t, and it really has nothing more than a minor role in the whole process of making laws and governing. So why should I waste my time watching the bouncing balls when the report might end up being ignored anyways. A little background on commissions…

Historically, commissions have enjoyed a colorful chronology. In 1794, farmers in western Pennsylvania revolted against the federal excise tax on spirits. Faced with the Whisky Rebellion, President George Washington sent a commission to investigate the situation and attempt to mediate a settlement.

Now there is a good reason for a commission, whisky. (sarcasm) If you are curious to know more about the history of commissions, check out this article I found on the History News Network. If you are into that sort of thing, that is.

Alan Simpson’s comments have caused all sorts of propaganda to spew forth. He’s an asshole and has been one for many years, he masks his “asshole-ness” by trying to crack jokes and be a fucking stand up comedian. I think Alan Simpson should be fired from the commission for his comments. He has a long history of saying stupid shit and really shouldn’t be taken seriously by anyone. Having said that, after reading some posts by liberals about how they think that the deficit commission is really a front for cutting social security and from what I can tell, it centers around Alan Simpson for the most part. I started looking into the deficit commission because to be honest, I haven’t tracked it much. I found stuff like this…

As the news site AlterNet reports, President Obama has stacked his new 18-member committee charged with dealing with the deficit, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, with a number of figures who have staked their careers on undermining Social Security.

So “President Obama has stacked his new 18-member commission”, really. I went to the executive order that created the commission and learned that this is how the 18 members were selected.

(a) six members appointed by the President, not more than four of whom shall be from the same political party;
(b) three members selected by the Majority Leader of the Senate, all of whom shall be current Members of the Senate;
(c) three members selected by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, all of whom shall be current Members of the House of Representatives;
(d) three members selected by the Minority Leader of the Senate, all of whom shall be current Members of the Senate; and
(e) three members selected by the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, all of whom shall be current Members of the House of Representatives.

Ut oh, the truth is the president didn’t “stack” anything, he appointed 6 members of the commission, 4 of them democrats. It looks like they set up the commission to include both parties and both houses of congress. Sounds pretty bi-partisan to me which probably pisses off those firebaggers who demonize anyone who doesn’t think exactly like them or doesn’t hate Obama. We are Obamabots, you know, or apologists.

Consistent with the Obama-haters other overreactions and made up controversies, they seem to have planted a virus in their heads that makes them think that the deficit commission is really the “eliminate Social Security commission.” They’ve even come up with a cute term for it ” the cat food commission”, aren’t they soooo clever. The main source of that virus appears to be Alan Simpson’s participation in the commission and they seem to have elevated him to being the only member of the commission and Social Security is the only topic. It’s so much easier to distort things to match your narrative than it is to actually deal in reality. It’s sooooo Republican of them. Besides the above “stacking” distortion, let’s look at some of the others…

Nobody really thought Alan Simpson could top his video appearance with Alex Lawson where he talked about “the lesser people” on Social Security.  But once again, President Obama’s hand-picked Co-Chair of the Catfood Commission tasked with “tweaking” Social Security has proven us all wrong.

That’s from the one and only queen of hate, Jane Hamsher and notice how Alan Simpson is “tasked with ‘tweaking’ SS”. Really, that’s his job on the commission, huh? Very subtle and typical of Hamsher’s tactics. Somehow, she’s assigned roles to certain people on the commission and if you look at the title of her post, which I won’t link to…no fucking way…you see what her goal is in her snarky, misleading bullshit post. “Obama Appointed Deficit Commission Co-Chair Alan Simpson: Social Security Is Like “A Milk Cow With 310 Million Tits”. Man, she had to work her ass off to get all that propaganda right in the title of her post. She just had to make a direct connection between Alan Simpson’s comments and President Obama. Nothing too subtle there, I guess. From what I can tell the whole basis for the virus in their brains is that people have said that Social Security is on the table. That’s it, it’s on the table.

President Obama is not stupid, unlike many of his critics. There is no way in hell that he is going to mess with Social Security, people who are saying he will are out of their fucking minds. The most he would possibly do is minor tweaks and probably to make it better. He is a progressive, whether the haters will ever believe it or not. That’s where the demagoguing comes in. These haters are preying on people’s emotions with a completely made up idea, sounds a lot like a “death panel” technique to me. You wonder why I have such disdain for those people? They are getting their panties all in a bunch about something that hasn’t happened and never will happen, but that clearly is not their goal with the latest attack.

I found this great post about some of the distortions coming out in this Alan Simpson inspired “propaganda-fest”. From William Greider at the Nation via Michael Moore’s site…(emphasis mine)

…Social Security, as Nation writers have explained many times, does not contribute a penny to federal deficits and it never will, according to the terms of the law. The opposite is the case.

On the same page the Times reported Simpson’s latest gaffe, political reporter Matt Bai contributed a far more outrageous falsehood of his own. In condescending style, he dismissed opponents to Social Security cuts (dimwits like me) as stuck-in-the -past liberals, trying to defend big government against harsh reality. Bai celebrated the courage of Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, a Democrat who evidently embraces the same view. Bai did not mention the people and public opinion overwhelmingly opposed to benefit cuts (check the polls if you doubt this). Someone should ask Congressman Blumenauer’s constituents how they feel about his brave stance.

Bai’s great falsification was to insinuate that the Social Security’s trust fund is bogus–that the massive surpluses collected from working people to pay for their future retirements are meaningless. Social Security, he acknowledged, has amassed a pile of Treasury bonds–IOU’s from the government–but he says as a practical matter that money can’t be paid back because taxes would have to be raised or more funds borrowed elsewhere. “This is sort of like saying that you’re rich because your friend has promised to give you 10 million bucks just as soon as he wins the lottery,” Bai explains.

His comparison is a clever but consequential lie, consisted with the elite propaganda. Bai makes it sound like the government is going to give this money to retirees. In fact, it’s the other way around. Social Security collected this money from workers as their involuntary savings, better known as FICA deductions. Then the federal government borrowed the money from us and spent it on other things. Congress raised the FICA deductions 25 years ago on all working people to pay for the baby boom generation’s coming retirements. The Social Security trust fund has since built up massive surpluses–$2.5 tillion now and growing to $4.2 trillion in 2023–and set it aside for the future. But, starting with Ronald Reagan, the federal government ran massive deficits on its own budgets and borrowed the savings from Social Security to pay for wars and military build-ups, regressive tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, among other things.

This vast wealth belongs to the working people who paid it–not to the federal government or Congress. Naturally, many politicians would like to get out of paying it back, but that constitutes a massive bait-and-switch swindle of working people. Bai and many other reporters of the mainstream media have been assured by their sources it is impossible to pay back that money, but that is a political choice, not a fiscal requirement. It would make working people pay for Republican gravy that went to someone else.

It is to weaken him, hurt him and in the process they are hurting the entire progressive agenda. What really pisses me off is that if they succeed in damaging Obama, like it appears they are, the result is going to be Republicans in charge. And if we thought we were fucked with the Bush administration, just wait till the new Republican Party takes over. It will take the concept of “fucked” to a whole new level. And I’m going to be in those motherfuckers faces reminding them that they are responsible for it.

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August 30, 2010 - Posted by | Economy, Jane Hamsher, Politics | ,

14 Comments »

  1. Oh no, FACTS. My heeeead hurts. :-)

    Great post, Jim. Unfortunately, the people that need to hear this message are the same ones who are the most damaging to the progressive causes.

    Comment by staci | August 30, 2010 | Reply

    • This meme on the SS being taken away is at the heart of the R’s for the mid terms and 2012. There is some really lousy reporting going on and it gets worse. Sometime I feel my head explode.

      This was a good post. Just keep them coming. And Staci, the one you did a while back was excellent.

      Comment by Roberta in MN | August 30, 2010 | Reply

      • Thank you.

        Reading further down, I’ve often wondered who these polled people are. I’ve never been polled, and I don’t know anybody that even knows anybody else that has been polled. Kinda makes me not take them too seriously.

        Comment by staci | August 30, 2010 | Reply

  2. Sorry Jim, but you missed the bigger picture on this one. While some on the left may have let their disappointment in Obama cloud their judgments in the past, on this issue the threat to Social Security posed by the so-called Deficit Commission is 100% real.

    You say: “There is no way in hell that he is going to mess with Social Security” based on what? Because the facts, which are too numerous to list here, point in just the opposite direction. Here’s just a few: Obama says SS must be on the table (even though SS has not contributed one penny to the debt), he had originally invited billionaire Pete Peterson (SS’s biggest detractor since his days in the Nixon administration)to the summit proposing this commission and disinvited him ONLY when the opposition howled. The Democrats he appointed to this commission, including Erskine Bowles who tried to cut SS during the Clinton days, have fiscal-hawk records, meaning 14 of the 16 members are pro SS cuts and adamantly opposed to revenue raisers.

    I voted for Obama, I support Obama, but he’s made it clear that to be taken seriously as a budget balancer, Social Security must be cut. Liberals ignore that at our own peril.

    Comment by kim | August 30, 2010 | Reply

    • Sorry Kim, but I don’t think I did. Did you miss the part about how a commission makes recommendations, but laws are passed by congress and signed by presidents? I’ve heard the president say he wouldn’t do it and I’ve heard others in his administration say that they wouldn’t. Until they do otherwise, I’ll believe them.

      The left is just as bad at the guilt by association as the right these days. Just because some of the folks on the commission may have made statements about Social Security in the past doesn’t mean they will automatically recommend cutting social security. And even if they do, that doesn’t mean the President is going to take those recommendations. Unlike most Americans and the media and the people demagoguing this issue, President Obama knows that Social Security is not affecting the deficit. Did you read that last section posted from Greider.

      But mostly I know that the President isn’t stupid enough to mess with Social Security and you all are wasting your time getting all worked up about it. Mark my words.

      Comment by ExtremeLiberal | August 30, 2010 | Reply

    • On Social Security being on the table…hey, how about a novel idea….maybe they actually want to make it more fiscally sound, maybe they will stop borrowing from it to hide the real debt, maybe they will come up with ways to do it more efficiently or maybe they will leave it exactly as it is. The definition of demagogue is….verb – to treat or manipulate (a political issue) in the manner of a demagogue; obscure or distort with emotionalism, prejudice, etc.

      If what is going on with some on the left over this issue isn’t pure emotionalism or prejudice, I don’t know what is.

      Comment by ExtremeLiberal | August 30, 2010 | Reply

      • Thanks for your rebuttal. I just can’t understand what the hell is wrong with these people.
        OT watching Tweety and he is off his rocker tonight. Went nuts about the President not going after the misinformation about not being a Muslim. And talking about the polls. Oh how I hate those polls. Everybody seems to forget that all of this really started with Hillary and McCain during the primaries. The GOP is just going to be using this as an issue because they don’t have anything to run on.

        Comment by Roberta in MN | August 30, 2010 | Reply

      • Roberta, sometimes Tweety is really nuts, isn’t he. I can barely watch him most of the time, he has the political maturity of a 2 year old.

        As you know, I don’t put much stock in polls, especially when they are so far out from an election. And these days, even when you get close to an election, there is all sorts of problems with them. Don’t get me started on polls. :)

        Comment by ExtremeLiberal | August 30, 2010 | Reply

    • I could go on all night, Kim. :)
      You said “the threat to Social Security by the so-called Deficit Commission is 100% real.” First of all, a commission is basically incapable of threatening anything…by it’s definition, it is powerless. It can’t make laws, it doesn’t get elected and it is not accountable. Politicians make laws and I can guarantee you that Obama isn’t stupid enough to cut Social Security…why do you think the Democrats are starting to use it against the Republicans? Republicans ARE stupid enough to do it, but my party isn’t….no matter what democrats are on the commission or what they might have said years ago, and we can debate what they’ve said years ago if that’s what you want to do.

      “Because the facts, which are too numerous to list here, point in the opposite direction. Here’s a few…”
      You say because it is on the table that it means it will be messed with? Like I said above, maybe they are going to end the Republican trick of borrowing from it to hide the real deficit. Obama did that with the wars, didn’t he?

      You also said because “he originally invited Pete Peterson, SS’s biggest detractor since the days…” Well he was vilified too, unfairly. I don’t agree with him on some things but look at this section from the Daily Beast interview he did…

      “Peterson’s emphasis on entitlement cuts rankles progressives, but many of his recommendations for closing the budget gap would be perfectly at home in a Democratic administration. He favors a carbon tax to raise revenue and combat climate change, and advocates cuts to defense spending. Much like Obama, he identifies growing health-care costs as a bigger driver of red ink than Social Security and his proposed solution, weaning doctors off of a fee-for-service system, is in line with the ideas of Democratic wonks like Atul Gawande. He supports running up the short-term deficit to overcome the recession, including extending unemployment benefits. He begins most of his speeches with an attack on Republicans’ zealous obsession with tax cuts—a trend he’s been pushing against since the 1980s, when he decried Ronald Reagan’s supply-side economics.”

      He’s not quite as evil as he’s been made out to be. Evil yes, but not as bad as others on the right.

      And Erskine Bowles may also have some crazy ideas about Social Security, but he also has bona fide credentials at cutting deficits, so probably a good person to have on a deficit commission. If he recommends doing something to Social Security, I’m sure President Obama will tell him politely to take a leap.

      All of your “facts” about this threat to Social Security are guilt by association-like reasons. I’ve read the laundry lists from other people too that talk about each person on the commission who “once said” one thing or another….but they are all besides the point. The commission has no power, the laws still have to be written by politicians and the only politicians stupid enough to do anything to Social Security are Republicans.

      IF YOU ALL WANT TO GET YOUR PANTIES IN A BUNCH ABOUT SOMETHING, HOW ABOUT GETTING DEMOCRATS ELECTED IN NOVEMBER SO THE FUCKING REPUBLICANS DON’T GET CONTROL AND FUCK EVERYTHING UP AGAIN.

      Sorry about the all caps, but the people wasting their time bashing President Obama for made up shit or something that hasn’t and probably won’t happen, need to get their heads out of their asses and help us beat back the Republicans.

      Comment by ExtremeLiberal | August 30, 2010 | Reply

      • Thank You, Thank You

        Comment by Roberta in MN | August 30, 2010 | Reply

  3. SS needs to be reformed because it has not evolved with the current times. Raise the age to collect SS to 70, don’t pay SS to anyone who did not contribute and move medicare into a different fund. Average life expectancy had risen drastically but SS has not kept pace.

    SS was created as a Supplemental retirement fund not a comprehensive retirement fund. Remove any taxes on all 401K and IRA funds and allow people to fund their own retirement.

    Comment by atlanta ralph | August 30, 2010 | Reply

    • I used to think that raising the age was a good idea because people are living longer, for the most part, but recently I heard an idea to actually lower it so that the workforce shrinks and there isn’t as much competition for jobs. I was intrigued by the idea. The argument was basically that since technology has eliminated so many jobs and will continue to in the future, less workers by attrition might be a good thing. I’m not saying I agree, but it’s something to think about.

      Comment by ExtremeLiberal | August 30, 2010 | Reply

  4. If you increase the numbers on SS, who is going to pay for it?
    Stop illegal entries and send illegals back would create jobs, of course many Americans would not take them but just enforce you don’t work, you don’t eat.

    Comment by atlanta ralph | August 31, 2010 | Reply

    • I thought Social Security was a Supplemental retirement fund. I pay in everytime I get a paycheck, isn’t that my money? I’m not saying I think it is a good idea, but with such large unemployment rates and technology making manufacturing more efficient and thus needing less workers, we have to start thinking differently.

      Comment by ExtremeLiberal | August 31, 2010 | Reply


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