America’s cranky grandpa
“I always say to people,” Alan Simpson told NBC’s Chuck Todd, “before you, you know begin to drool at the mouth, and go crazy and scratch our eyeballs out, read the damn report. It was 67 pages, we put it in December 1, 2010 and people said, “What are you doing to the vulnerable?” And I said, read it. We don’t do anything to people on SSI, we don’t do anything with food stamp, we don’t do anything with people on — on unemployment. Get — get your — use your bean, instead of listening to crap all day long from the right, and the left.”
The question, in case you were wondering, was “what do you say to those folks who don’t have the comfort of a pension? That don’t have a good job that they can get employed at all the way through the age of 70, say? How do you deal with that?”
Simpson’s answer, meanwhile, was no answer at all. It was just schtick. It does nothing to, say, rebut the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which took a close look at the changes Simpson-Bowles made to Social Security and concluded that the proposal “would generate nearly two-thirds of its Social Security savings over 75 years — and four-fifths of its savings in the 75 th year — from benefit cuts,” and that “while these benefit cuts would be largest for workers with above-average earnings, they would affect the vast majority of retired and disabled workers.”
Fifteen years after he retired from the U.S. Senate, Simpson has become a key figure in American politics by picking the right issue, the right enemies, and the right language to describe them. He is like America’s cranky grandpa. A bit unfiltered, sure, but loved for saying what everyone else was already thinking. And it works because most of the people Simpson talks to — particularly the ones in the media — really do think like Alan Simpson.