Demands to fire Simpson increase despite apology

Despite his apology for insulting a leading advocate for seniors and tens of millions of Social Security recipients, demands that President Obama fire Alan Simpson, co-chair of his deficit reduction commission continue to increase today.

In an e-mail to Ashley Carson, executive director of the Older Women’s League, Simpson, the former Republican senator from Wyoming, attacked her for a blog in which she opposed Simpson’s position that the retirement age should be raised in order to save on Social Security payouts.

Simpson responded to Carson: “People like you babble into the vapors and all the rest of that crap.” He said Social Security is “like a milk cow with 310 million tits” and ended his letter by telling Carson to “call when you get honest work.”

Previously, Simpson has come under fire for calling seniors “greedy geezers,” has described lower-income Americans as “lesser people in society'” and has complained that he was frustrated hearing from retirees who “live in gated communities and drive their Lexus to the Perkins restaurant to get the AARP discount.”

Simpson’s public apology to Carson last night has not stopped a groundswell of calls for his firing from continuing today.

The AFL-CIO issued a statement urging calls to the White House at 202-456-1414, urging the president to demand Simpson’s resignation.

Carson herself said, “Apparently Mr. Simpson thinks that defending the rights of women is not honest work.”

In a joint letter to President Obama, Alliance for Retired Americans President Barbara Easterling and Executive Director Edward Coyle urged Simpson’s dismissal. The letter said his remarks are “conduct unbecoming a person named to co-chair a presidential panel. Moreover, it is the latest in a series of derisive and inappropriate comments Mr. Simpson has made about our nation’s seniors and the Social Security benefits they have earned and rely upon to make ends meet.”

In another letter to the president, the National Council of Women’s Organizations said, “Such open contempt goes beyond the pale and cannot be tolerated from someone in such a position of authority.”

At the White House Wednesday night Jennifer Psaki, deputy communications director said, “Alan Simpson has apologized and while we regret and do not condone his comments, we accept this apology and he will continue to serve.”

Late Wednesday Sen. Bernie Sanders, I, Vt., and Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., were the first elected officials to demand Simpson’s firing. In a letter, provided to the press, they said, “Social Security provides the majority of income for two-thirds of the nation’s elderly and for one-third it provides nearly all their income. Without it, millions of Americans would be living in abject poverty as was the case before the creation of Social Security. It is false and demeaning to say that these people, the vast majority of whom have worked their entire lives and contributed into the Social Security system, are somehow ‘milking’ the system.”

The Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, who opposed the deficit commission as a bad idea from the beginning, said, “the supposedly grown-up Republican co-chair has been talking nonsense about Social Security from the get-go. When you have a commission dedicated to the common good, and the co-chair dismisses Social Security as a ‘milk cow with 310 million tits,’ you either have to get rid of him or admit that you’re completely, um, cowed by the right wing. An apology won’t suffice. Simpson was completely in character here.”

On MSNBC’s Countdown program Wednesday Eric Kingson, the chair of Social Security Works, said that Simpson should be fired and that Social Security in its entirety should be removed from the purview of the deficit commission.

Photo: These Florida seniors are active in the Alliance for Retired Americans (Kathie McClure/CC)


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.