Alan Simpson! Erskine Bowles! We’ve got questions for you!

Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, co-chairs of Obama’s Deficit Commission, are speaking on “Is There a Fair Way to Reduce the Federal Deficit?” at a Panetta Institute forum in Monterey, California, on President’s Day, February 21.

Obama’s Deficit Commission, though heavily stacked against social programs, was unable to reach consensus on recommendations, so Simpson and Bowles released their own recommendations, which would have devastating consequences for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, job recovery, and all government programs.

According to the Commission’s ground rules, agreement of a 2/3 majority of Commissioners was necessary to submit any plan to Congress,  which Simpson and Bowles failed to get.  Nevertheless, Senators Mark Warner (D, VA) and Saxby Chamblis (R, GA) are determined to pass a bill containing the Simpson-Bowles recommendations. They are also trying to get the recommendations be a precondition for raising the national Debt Limit, which must be increased if national government is not to shut down.

We have some questions for
Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles!

Social Security (which Simpson & Bowles
admit does NOT contribute to the debt)

If what we’re talking about here is reducing the federal deficit,
and your own Report admitted
that Social Security does not contribute to the deficit,
why are you even talking about Social Security?

How can you justify raising the age to collect Social Security,
* when it’s an average 13% benefit cut,
* when it’s only the wealthy who are living longer,

* when older people find it almost impossible to find jobs,
* when many older people’s bodies are already worn out,
* when it would make it harder for younger people to find jobs,
* and when you say Social Security doesn’t add to the deficit?

If today’s 25 year old retired at age 65 in 2050,
having earned an average earnings of today’s $64,000,
he or she would retire with 24.5% less Social Security benefits
under your Co-Chairs’ plan.
How can you justify that cut if, as you admit,
Social Security does not add to the deficit?

Your plan has a new formula for Social Security COLA increases,
that assumes we can switch to cheaper alternatives
when our goods and services get priced beyond our means.
But seniors cannot switch to cheaper healthcare,
and many seniors are already at rock-bottom housing.
Why are you cutting Social Security
if Social Security does not contribute to the deficit?

Jobs

If what we’re talking about here is reducing the federal deficit
how can you justify your Co-Chairs’ recommendation
to cap revenue at 21% of the Gross National Product?
Won’t cutting revenue make the deficit worse?
How will we ever renew our infrastructure,
our highways, our schools, our housing?
How can we ever create jobs?

Your Co-Chairs’ plan transfers money from the middle class to the rich.
It reduces the corporate tax rate, and income taxes on the most wealthy,
and permanently extends corporate tax credits for research.
But we loose our tax deductions for mortgage interest,
for state and local taxes paid,
for charities, and even for contributing to our IRAs.
This is giving more money to those that hoard it, and refuse to hire.
We need jobs!

Healthcare

Just as the war in Afghanistan is being extended from 2011 to 2014,
and just as we’re discovering PTSD is affecting more and more vets,
and just as more military families are living in poverty,
your Co-Chairs’ plan increases premiums and co-pays for vets in Tri-Care.
How do you justify that?

Over ¾ of people going bankrupt over medical costs had insurance.
but the insurance didn’t cover expenses or had ruinous co-pays.
“Cadillac” insurance isn’t about posh gym memberships,
it’s about plans that cover us and we can afford to use.
Your co-chairs’ plan would impose a stiffer excise tax on decent insurance.
How do you justify taxing health insurance that meets our needs?

All over the country, States’ Medicaid expenses are increasing
as joblessness, employer cut-backs, and high medical costs
drive more people into Medicaid.
Meanwhile State revenues drop.
Your Co-Chairs’ plan would fix the dollar amount each state would get,
no matter how their Medicaid need might grow.
How are States supposed to maintain a medical safety net?

The Obama Health Plan’s Independent Payment Advisory Board
already has sweeping powers to cut Medicare’s payments
for doctors, home health, medicines, and many other services.
Even Congress cannot reverse these cuts.
Your Co-Chairs plan gives that Board even more power to make cuts.
Medicare’s Actuary says Medicare payment cuts already
threaten to drive hospitals away from providing Medicare services.
Don’t you worry that Medicare patients will find it hard to find healthcare?

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