The Bowles-Simpson proposal has become a kind of short-hand in Washington for what a balanced, bipartisan deficit-reduction deal could look like. When given a closer look, the plan is anything but balanced. Bowles-Simpson is touted by inside-the-Beltway pundits who think that cutting benefits for seniors who have an average income of $22,000 a year is the type of "hard choice" we need to be making. We should not and need not reduce the deficit on the backs of seniors and others who survive on a low income ~ Jan Schakowsky (dob 5/26/1944) the Democrat representing Illinois's 9th congressional district, serving since 1999. The Congresswoman was a member of the 2010 National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (AKA Bowles-Simpson Comission). The Rep voted against the commission's final proposal.
Refuting lies about me in regards to past comments ("old bones" some might say) on another blog are why I have decided to author this commentary. Lies from the blog "Contra O'Reilly" put forward by one Willis Hart in a blog post from 7/12/2014.
|Willis Hart: "On the Assertion that Bowles-Simpson is a Conservative Plan"... Only in the warped, psychotic, brain-diseased, and idiotic mind of a lunatic leftist douchebag would anything even remotely along these lines even be considered. The fact of the matter here is that the ratio of spending cuts to tax increases in Bowles-Simpson is only about 1.4 to 1, and the only reason that it's even this high is because of interest apparently having been included. Compare this to the ratios of the ACTUAL conservative debt consolidation packages which have consistently put forth a cuts to revenue ratio of approximately 5 or 6 to 1... or even to that deal which Obama almost had with Boehner which was pretty damned close to 4 to 1 and, if anything, Bowles-Simpson is probably a little bit to the left of center. Of course, if you yourself are so brazenly to the left that you actually consider people like Bernie Sanders, Van Jones, Francis Boyle, and Bill Ayers as mainstreamers, and even go as far as to quote Joseph Stalin, you're probably going to think that pretty much anything is "conservative", I would think. (7/12/2014 AT 12:32pm).|
Yet another post from this doofus in which he, for some strange reason, makes it out to be that I alone in the entire world hold a position that is so incredibly ridiculous that all those negative adjectives are necessary. And he lies about people I view as "mainstream", none of which I really view as "mainstream".
I like Bernie Sanders, and I like Van Jones. Senator Sanders describes himself as a socialist. His voters seem to like him, although I will absolutely admit that Senator Sanders is to the Left of mainstream... although Bernie Sanders is the founder of the House Progressive Caucus, which is the largest Congressional Congress. Isn't being the largest a hallmark of being mainstream?
Van Jones I would describe as a Progressive that fights for the Middle Class. The Middle Class isn't "mainstream"? But he may be a little to the Left as well when compared to the Democratic Party at large, which I would describe as skewing Conservative. Bill Clinton described himself as a New Democrat, which means he considered himself a Democrat who was "economically neoliberal".
New Democrats claim to be "an ideologically centrist faction within the Democratic Party" but their adoption of neoliberal policies also advocated for by the Right makes New Democrats CONSERVATIVE Democrats.
|New Democrats were more open to deregulation than the previous Democratic leadership had been. This was especially evident in the large scale deregulation of agriculture and the telecommunications industries. The New Democrats... were responsible for the ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). (Source: Wikipedia/New Democrats/Bill Clinton as a New Democrat).|
Also, under the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) the Democrats began (more) aggressively pandering to the business community (which the deregualting and free trading advocating was a part of) in order to secure more campaign cash (bribes). DLC/New Democrats viewed their past losses (losses that sent Reagan and Bush Sr) to the White House as being related to Republican campaigns being better funded. Better funded because GOP candidates had greater greater access to the Conservative Business (plutocrat) money pool.
The "New Democrat" movement was a response to this funding issue. Incorporate Conservative ideas in order to get Conservative business money. New Democrats are Conservative Democrats.
The Blue Dog Coalition "is a caucus of United States Congressional Representatives from the Democratic Party who identify themselves as moderates and conservatives". This caucus was formed in 1994 during the presidency of Bill Clinton. Wikipedia notes that "the term Blue Dog Democrat is credited to Texas Democratic Rep. Pete Geren... who later joined the Bush Administration.
Our current president, the fellow who appointed Bowles and Simpson to co-chair the so-called "bipartisan" commission tasked to produce debt reduction legislation, is a self described Blue Dog. Erskine Bowles is a Conservative Democrat  who served as Bill Clinton's Chief of Staff. Alan Simpson, a former Republican Congressman who "George H.W. Bush reportedly considered Simpson for the vice presidency in 1988".
So what we have in this "debt reduction" comission is Conservative Democrats partnering with Republicans. And, if that is not enough information to know for a fact that ANY "compromise" that MIGHT have come out of the commission would most certainly skew to the Right, there is also the fact that reducing the government's debt in response to a poorly performing economy (AKA austerity) is an ENTIRELY Conservative idea.
Keynesian economics - the economic theory subscribed to by TRUE Leftists and Left of Center Democrats - "is the view that in the short run, especially during recessions, economic output is strongly influenced by aggregate demand (total spending in the economy)". Talking debt reduction (austerity) in response to an economic downturn is a wholly Conservative concept.
Heck, the NAME of the comission was the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. "Fiscal responsibility" is code for "austerity". The idea that austerity is the answer to economic downturns is in complete opposition to the theory behind Keynesiansim.
As such, NO debt reduction (i.e. austerity) plan coming from such a commission could in any way NOT be Conservative! Now, if the Democrats had proposed a commission in which cutting waste and improving efficiency were components - but which focused on Keynesian stimulus and job creation ideas - THAT would be a plan truly befitting Democratic economic ideals.
But a plan of action that immediately concedes that the very ideals the Democratic Party is built upon are wrong and capitulates that the Republican austerity is the way to address an economic downturn? Such a plan is CONSERVATIVE from the get-go. It does not matter if "the ratio of spending cuts to tax increases in Bowles-Simpson is only about 1.4 to 1".
And there is also the fact that the spending cuts included items that would actually hurt our economy like using the (bogus) chained-CPI to take money out of the pockets of Seniors (and other Social Security recipients). Non-conservatives view the chained-CPI as a non-starter.
|The Nation: [Bowles-Simpson and the White House] depicted [the chained CPI] as a "more accurate" formula that "will reduce deficits and improve Social Security solvency". ...but there’s no debating these simple points: Chained-CPI is both a benefit cut and a tax increase. (Top 5 Myths About Chained-CPI, Debunked by George Zornick, 4/11/2013).|
In addition to the chained CPI, Bowles-Simpson wanted to "increase the early and normal retirement age to 68 by 2050 and 69 by 2075". But the problem with all these Social Security cuts is that the money in the Social Security Trust Fund has nothing to do with our national debt!
|Truthout: [The Social Security trust fund is invested in Treasury Securities amounting to] $2.7 trillion... [This] came about not because entitlements are out of control and the government has been forced to borrow to meet retiree benefits, but rather because future retirees have paid more taxes than necessary to meet benefit obligations. Workers have essentially been prepaying into the Trust Fund in order to provide for their future benefits.|
So it makes no sense to try to solve the supposed problem of too much government debt by cutting benefits for current and future Social Security recipients. (The $17 Trillion Delusion: The Absurdity of Cutting Social Security to Reduce the Debt by Marty Wolfson, 1/11/2014).
So, not only is the Chained-CPI a non-starter; ANY cut Social Security benefit cut is a non-starter (this includes raising the retirement age, which also is a cut). The ABSURD idea of cutting SS benefits to "reduce the debt" is CONSERVATIVE in nature.
Other "reforms" that would take money out of the pockets of ordinary Americans included cuts to all other "inflation-indexed programs... [such as] the military and civil service retirement system". Still other "reforms" included cuts to student loan programs and cuts that would increase out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries. All which would be cuts in opposition to the theory of Keynesianism which says cutting (austerity) makes economic downturns WORSE, not better.
So, again, it DOES NOT MATTER that "the ratio of spending cuts to tax increases in Bowles-Simpson is only about 1.4 to 1" because it is a CONSERVATIVE idea that austerity is economically beneficial!
Now, I'm not saying that Bowles-Simpson had nothing positive in it at all. There were actually some proposals Democrats could get behind in the Debt Reduction plan (such as (reforming farm subsidies), but it absolutely did skew Conservative (for the reasons I just outlined).
Now, here I should note that Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky released an alternate proposal that actually did provide for balanced deficit reduction. A proposal that did not place so much of the deficit reduction burden on seniors, the middle class, and low-income families.
|Rep. Schakowsky's plan proposes increased investment in jobs, infrastructure, education, and research and development to strengthen the economy and generate growth. The plan also calls for the protection of Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare while proposing additional steps to bring down the cost of health care overall. The plan would raise the top tax rates on the wealthy and end tax subsidies for big oil and highly-profitable corporations that ship jobs and profits overseas. It would eliminate wasteful military spending and focus on modern threats. The plan proposes additional revenue opportunities to strengthen Social Security and achieve long-term solvency without cutting benefits. (Source: 9/12/2012 Press Release as posted to the Congresswoman's website)|
The Schakowsky plan is considerably closer to what I was previously talking about a plan that included cutting waste and improving efficiency, but which focused on Keynesian stimulus and job creation ideas. The Schakowsky plan IS the Progressive answer to the CONSERVATIVE Bowles-Simpson proposal.
And, if I am "so brazenly to the Left" as Willis asserts, then so too must Jan Schakowsky, as well as other critics of Bowles-Simpson, including Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, who "criticized the deficit report for omitting a tax on the financial industry, as was recommended by the International Monetary Fund" and Paul Krugman, who wrote that "Simpson-Bowles... raises the Social Security retirement age because life expectancy has risen completely ignoring the fact that life expectancy has only gone up for the well-off and well-educated, while stagnating or even declining among the people who need the program most".
Lastly, I have to wonder why the hell names like Francis Boyle and Bill Ayers are added to the mix of people he THINKS I view as "mainstream". They aren't. And I've actually spoken against the views/actions of both of these individuals. Not that it matters, I suppose, as in the minds of the idiots who post/comment on the "Contra O'Reilly" blog disagreement by me somehow becomes agreement.
Hence the reference by Willis to me quoting Joseph Stalin, which he thinks I did to "butress my opinion"... a claim that is complete bullpucky. That I quoted Stalin (which I did) to "buttress my opinion" (I did not) was something Willis imagined happened.
And in regards to imagining things, commenter Dennis Marks added canards concerning me defending "Noam Chomsky's pro-Khmer Rouge views [and] Mao worshipper Van Jones [by equating] Maoism to ending police brutality".
The truth is these are both vile lies (although quite typical for the scumbag Marks). *If* Noam Chomsky HAD "pro-Khmer Rouge" views I would NOT defend them. And *if* Van Jones was a "Mao worshipper" I would not defend that either. Both assertions are false, however . Also, Maoism has nothing to do with ending police brutality. Van Jone belonged to a group that read the writings of Mao AND advocated against police brutality. But these were two separate things. The advocating against police brutality did not come from the reading of literature by Mao (there is/was no linkage).
In any case, Mr. Jones has changed his mind in regards "world-views and philosophies" that he experimented with in his youth. Van Jones now firmly believes our regulated market system is the best way to achieve desired reforms that will allow the middle class and working poor to prosper.
- Footnotes & Supporting Articles
- "Like a lot of technocrats, Bowles is a conservative Democrat who has struggled to find a niche in elective politics". Source: Keep Erskine Bowles Away from Treasury By Timothy Noah, The New Republic 11/8/2012.
- The boring truth about Chomsky: he does not support Pol Pot by Michael Brull, The Drum 7/5/2011.
- Severe Conservative Delusions: Van Jones Maoist Edition by Dervish Sanders, SWTD #144 5/6/2013
SWTD #266. See also TADM #50.