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AARP: Simpson Comments “Undermine” Deficit Commission UPDATE: Simpson Apologizes

The AARP, the largest senior advocacy organization in the country, just sent out a statement about Alan Simpson’s questionable comments to OWL’s executive director, Ashley Carson:

“Senator Simpson’s latest attack on Social Security is offensive for several reasons, particularly for belittling a bedrock program that is the foundation of family security for all generations. The vast majority of the 310 million Americans he insulted – particularly 156 million women and younger Americans for whom the traditional pension will be a relic of history – don’t have access to the type of traditional pension retirement security that Sen. Simpson has from his decades in Congress. Perhaps that’s why his comments demonstrate a woeful disconnect from or disinterest in the challenges facing many American families for whom Social Security is literally a lifeline.

“Sen. Simpson’s most recent departure from reality would be easy to dismiss if not for his position co-leading a Presidential commission that will likely recommend changes to Social Security. Sen. Simpson’s remarks not only cross the line of good judgment, but they undermine the serious work of the commission and give us little confidence the commission can fairly look at important programs such as Social Security.”

The AARP statement gets to the heart of why Simpson’s babbling is important. I could care less about his language – my esteemed colleague TBogg invented the phrase “Tits on a Blintz” to describe Pam Geller, I believe, and I’m a George Carlin-liberal on matters of this nature – but he basically stated that 310 million Americans are “milking” Social Security, a program THEY PAY FOR. As if it weren’t clear before, this basically exposes Simpson as someone vociferously opposed to the program, period.

Simpson in particular seems convinced, as blogger Economics of Contempt pointed out, that Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration Stephen Goss’ report to the cat food commission, from May 12, 2010, “is some sort of trump card in this debate.” That would be the Stephen Goss who penned the lastest Social Security Bulletin which showed the program as being stable for the next 27 years.

If AARP has lost faith in Simpson, he may just be in some trouble. But this doesn’t involve an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero, so it hasn’t hit TV yet.

UPDATE: You know Simpson is feeling the heat – he intends to apologize:

Alan Simpson intends to apologize for describing Social Security as “a milk cow with 310 million tits!” in an email to OWL executive director Ashley Carson, according to two people familiar with his intentions.

The National Organization for Women also called on him to step down today. “The ugliness of his disrespect for women is matched only by his dogged determination to dismantle Social Security by cutting benefits or increasing the retirement age. The National Organization for Women urges President Obama to take a stand on this issue and replace Simpson immediately.”

UPDATE II: Here’s Simpson’s letter of apology. It must have pained him to write this:

My wife Ann and I are in Yellowstone National Park for the opening of the new visitor center, so I only just now have had the opportunity to read your response to my recent e-mail. I apologize for what I wrote. I can see that my remarks have caused you anguish, and that was not my intention. I certainly did not intend to diminish your hard work for the Older Women’s League. I know you care deeply about strengthening Social Security, and so do I, just as deeply. I remember your testimony at our public hearing in June about the importance of retirement security for women. Over the last 40 years, I have had my size 15 feet in my mouth a time or two. To quote my old friend and colleague, Senator Lloyd Bentsen, when I make a mistake, “It’s a doozy!”

Next time I’m in Washington, perhaps we could meet in person, and I could learn further of your sincere concerns.

Sure, “Call when you get honest work!” should not be taken as diminishing the work that Carson does at OWL.

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David Dayen

David Dayen