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Deficit Commission Plots to Overhaul Social Security Behind Voters’ Backs

That is what the New York Times reported today, although it used somewhat different language.  It told readers that:

The group, which has a Dec. 1 deadline for recommending how to reduce the annual deficits swelling the federal debt, purposely has done little to date beyond five public hearings, and it has decided nothing lest any decisions leak and blow up in the flammable mix of a campaign year with control of Congress in the balance.

In a democracy, the purpose of elections is supposed to be to have voters determine issues like the future of Social Security and Medicare.  According to this article, the members of this commission conspired to keep these issues outside of the election debate.

The article also tells readers that the co-chairs of the commission apparently misled the public in their prior statements.  Both former Senator Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles had given assurances that benefits would not be cut for current Social Security beneficiaries.  According to this article, the commission is now considering changing the annual cost of living adjustment formula in a way that would reduce benefits.  This reversal of a public commitment by the co-chairs should have been the main topic of a major news article.


Dean Baker is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).  He is the author of False Profits: Recovering from the Bubble Economy.  He also has a blog Beat the Press, where he discusses the media’s coverage of economic issues.  This article was first published in CEPR’s “Beat the Press” blog on 2 November 2010 under a Creative Commons license.  See, also, James K. Galbraith’s Statement to the Commission on Deficit Reduction (30 June 2010).




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