By Alex Lawson, Communications Director for Social Security Works.
This is the third installment of our weekly livestream of the Closed Door Debt Commission. The best action is around 9:15am and 11:30am, right as members of the commission are entering and leaving.
President Obama created the Debt Commission by executive order and immediately set the tone by appointing former Senator Alan Simpson and former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles.
These two picks sent a clear message; Social Security is on the chopping block.
Subsequent picks only heightened fears that the commission’s real task was to slip cuts to Social Security by a public that, for the most part, is unaware of the commission. Many of the picks have a "history of support for both benefit cuts and privatization of Social Security."
Sen. Simpson is famous for his animosity towards seniors, recently saying that for the commission to work, "You’ve got to scrub out [of] the equation the AARP, the Committee for the Preservation of Social Security and Medicare, the Gray Panthers, the Pink Panther, the whatever. Those people are lying… [They] don’t care a whit about their grandchildren…not a whit."
During the Clinton White House, Mr. Bowles was known as "Corporate America’s Friend in the White House." Only after the fact did it become clear that Erskine Bowles’ true claim to fame was as "the liaison between Clinton and Gingrich."
In his book, The Pact, author Steve Gillon reports that the biggest deal that Bowles was brokering was a partial privatization of Social Security alongside benefit cuts enacted by "raising the minimum age required for Social Security and for changing the COLA formula."
In a recent discussion, Gillon affirmed that from appearances it looks like the current commission is looking for the same "deal" as the Clinton-Gingrich "pact." And that Erskine Bowles is reprising his role as deal-maker extraordinaire.
The only difference between now and then, is that in Clinton’s time it was the budget surplus that was used to explain the need to "fix" Social Security, now it is the budget deficit being used to explain the same necessity.
Watch the livestream below from 9am-noon, Wednesday May, 19 2010.
Live streaming video by Ustream
This week is the meeting of the Tax Working Group. See the membership of the working groups below.