Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.
In a letter to his Democratic colleagues, Sen. Bernie Sanders of VT punctured the reputations of Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles. The two co-chaired the President's commission on so-called entitlement reform, and many pundits in the mainstream media are still slobbering all over them.
Not Bernie Sanders.
In his letter he noted that Simpson is a former conservative Republican Senator who has said outrageous things about Social Security, including referring to it as "a milk cow with 310 million tits" and insisting that Social Security is not a retirement program.
Sanders was no less sparing of Erskine Bowles, noting that he was "a board member of Morgan Stanley since 2005 and made a fortune as a Wall Street investment banker."
Bowles also, Sanders reminds us, referred to the Paul Ryan plan as "sensible, straightforward, honest, serious."
Sanders said what he found even more distressing was the idea that Simpson-Bowles represented a "balanced approach."
Sanders denounced their recommendations to cut Social Security benefits for current retirees and for middle class workers, to raise the retirement age to 69, to reduce taxes for the wealthy and corporations, to increase taxes on the lower class, and to increase premiums for people on Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children's Health Insurance Program.
These proposals "will cause major economic pain to virtually every American," he said, "while lowering taxes for millionaires, billionaires, and large corporations even more than President Bush."
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