Is Mark Warner the Designated Social Security Killer?

The propaganda the Administration has put out to spin the debt capitulation as a win–“victory!” “bipartisan!” “compromise!”–would be amusing if the deal weren’t so dangerous. In addition to all the language claiming that cutting expenditures during a Depression–described here as “remov[ing] the cloud of uncertainty– will help the economy, there are these two bullets:

  • Establishes a bipartisan process to seek a balanced approach to larger deficit reduction through entitlement and tax reform;
  • Deploys an enforcement mechanism that gives all sides an incentive to reach bipartisan compromise on historic deficit reduction, while protecting Social Security, Medicare beneficiaries and low-income programs;

Bulllet 3 says this deal establishes a process to bring about entitlement reform. Bullet 4 claims the deal protected Social Security and Medicare. Both of these bullets can’t be true.

Which has set off a discussion about whether SuperCongress is only possibly going to cut Medicare and Social Security, or will almost certainly do so.

I wanted to look at how the membership of the predecessor committees to SuperCongress–the Catfood Commission and the Gang of Six–to suggest which is more likely.

As you recall, the Catfood Commission members voted 11-7 in favor of passing the Commission’s recommendations, which included raising the retirement age. The members of Congress on the Commission voted this way:

  • Tom Coburn: Yes
  • Judd Gregg: Yes*
  • Mike Crapo: Yes
  • Kent Conrad: Yes
  • Dick Durbin: Yes
  • Max Baucus: No
  • Paul Ryan: No
  • Jeb Hensarling: No
  • Dave Camp: No
  • Jan Schakowsky: No
  • Xavier Becerra: No
  • John Spratt: Yes*

Assuming for the sake of argument that the members who are still in Congress would be part of SuperCongress, that would make for a stalemate–though Republican opposition focused on Obama’s healthcare reform, not on the package of entitlement cuts and tax breaks for the rich that the commission recommended.

Both Judd Gregg and John Spratt are gone. Rather than replace Judd Gregg, the former Ranking Member of the Budget Committee with his functional equivalent, Jeff Sessions, Mitch McConnell will likely put Saxby Chambliss on SuperCongress, as Chambliss has been involved in the Gang of Six discussing a deficit reduction plan. John Spratt’s functional equivalent would be Chris Van Hollen, a not horrible addition for liberals. (Update: Or maybe he’s just like Durbin, a so-called liberal who will support this crap.)

But it’s not safe to assume Harry Reid will just pick the Senators who served on the Catfood Commission for SuperCongress. After Max Baucus voted no on the Catfood Commission, saying, “we cannot cut the deficit at the expense of veterans, seniors, ranchers, farmers and hard-working families,” he was replaced on the Gang of Six. Joe Biden and Harry Reid replaced him with Mark Warner, a man worth more than $200 million who has spent much of the tenure of the Gang of Six insisting that working Americans with whom he shares little in common won’t mind so much if they have to work another two years before they can retire.

In other words, one change we’ve already seen happen between the Catfood Commission and the Gang of Six is the replacement of Max Baucus, who proved unwilling to push through the $4 trillion deficit plan Obama has been chasing, with Mark Warner, who is all too willing to champion entitlement cuts for poor people.

If his newly central role in these discussions stands, we can be pretty sure we’ll see cuts to Social Security. And heck, if he won’t do the deed, then alleged liberal, Dick Durbin, and Kent Conrad seem prepared to do the work themselves.

36 replies
  1. prostratedragon says:

    A sound conjecture. Much the way these commissions have worked for many a year. (And they are basic to the Chicago politics toolkit.)

  2. Cregan says:

    I really think you are getting into a semi panic early.

    I really don’t think this committee will come to any agreement. Democrats will want tax increases and the
    GOP will not agree.

    And Democrats have a much bigger stick in these negotiations.

    While the defense cuts of the trigger would be real and actually happen, the Medicare “cuts” would be quite unreal and never happen. The ‘cuts’ are only to providers.

    As they have with the Doc Fix every year, Congress will rescind those ‘cuts’ and all will be as it was.

    Progressives get the cuts to defense they have wanted for some time and the GOP gets nothing.

    That’s the real world.

    Obama made a great deal, and the GOP got snookered again.

  3. TarheelDem says:

    Max Baucus as Senate Finance Chair will either be on the committee or have power over who is on the committee

    Same thing for Kent Conrad, now retiring. It could be his parting shot.

    And Warner is trying to don an elephant mask to run for re-election in Virginia.

    Either Conrad or Warner could be the quisling.

  4. BoxTurtle says:

    He’d be a good choice. He’s secure in his district and in the unlikely event his voters remove him. he’s qualified for any number of wingnut welfare positions.

    Boxturtle (And he’d probably fall on his sword to keep his $200m)

  5. Brian Silver says:

    By Warner’s logic, I don’t expect to be collecting Social Security past the age of 90. So let me start it at age 66 but the government can kill me when I reach my 91st birthday.

  6. Pragmatic Realist says:

    Obviously there will be no savings to supporting you to age 90. The whole debate has been driven by the supposed increase of our lifespan to about age 76. The only logical consequence of this is for Social Security and Medicare to cut off at age 76 or maybe give a little mercy and go up to 79. This makes much more sense than raising the eligibility age. If anybody were to ask me, this is what I would recommend. It has the advantage of being automatic so there is no problem with “death panels”. With the future looking as bleak as it does right now, who would want to live past 70 anyhow?

  7. Mary says:

    Actually, I think the solution is to have everyone join the FBI. ;)

    Have been seeing the ads on the blogs lately of a guy tricked out like a Mad Max Thunderdome contestant with a header of *Are you over 18* and footer that says *You can make $65,000 a year* and implies psst – hey, and you can go around and shoot parents in front of their children while kicking the kids and tying the family dog to a bulldozer and smashing it slowly to death.

    Anyway – there you go – if all kinds of 18 yos start making 65,000/year killing off the old and the crippled, obviously we have a solution – not so much Swiftian as Swiftboatsian.

  8. Mary says:

    BTW – driveby thought – has anyone suggested that we push with the Reps on their “job creators” meme by proposing a structure for companies that do create jobs to earn lower rates, while those lower rates are lost if the company doesn’t create jobs.

  9. BoxTurtle says:

    @Mary: The GOPers are right. We’ll all need guns. To protect ourselves if we’re over 60 or to shoot the leeches who are raising our taxes if we’re under 30.

    Boxturtle (Those between those ages should stay out of the corssfire)

  10. rosalind says:

    ot: anyone else unable to get into FDL? been trying for a while with no success, wondering if they’re getting his with a DOS.

  11. marksb says:

    @Pragmatic Realist: “who would want to live past 70 anyhow?”

    (Raises hand) Me! Pick me!

    The closer I get to 60 (just six mo’ months) the more I think, you know, past 70 would be nice…

  12. Gitcheegumee says:

    [email protected]:10pm:

    A very slight inclusion…

    has anyone suggested that we push with the Reps on their “job creators” meme by proposing a structure for companies that do create(PERMANENT,FULL TIME JOBS HERE IN THE US )to earn lower rates(AND DO NOT OFFSHORE THEIR INCORPORATION.)

    while those lower rates are lost if the company doesn’t create jobs(OR FIRES THE PEOPLE IMMEDIATELY AFTER GETTING THE TAX BREAK..OR SETS UP REITS IN OFFSHORE LOCATIONS. )

  13. Gitcheegumee says:

    If the Tea Partiers are hosting the presentation no doubt it will be white chocolate.

  14. Gitcheegumee says:


    Mon Aug-01-11 02:04 PM

    ACLU asks court to hold CIA in contempt for destroying torture tapes

    Source: Raw Story

    ACLU asks court to hold CIA in contempt for destroying torture tapes
    By Stephen C. Webster

    Monday, August 1st, 2011 — 1:47 pm

    Despite a court order, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) destroyed hundreds of hours of video tape showing the alleged torture of two terror detainees, and now the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is asking a New York judge to punish them for it.

    In a case being heard Monday, attorneys for the ACLU will argue that the agency, and former deputy director Jose Rodriguez in particular, should be held in contempt of an order to preserve records responsive to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed in 2004.

    “The record indicates that far from an innocent mistake, Rodriguez ordered the tapes destroyed to cover up evidence that ‘would make us look terrible’ and be ‘devastating’ to the CIA,” the ACLU’s filing (PDF) argues, quoting Rodriguez emails obtained through FOIA requests. “Indeed, Rodriguez weighed the ‘heat’ that would come from destroying the documents and concluded that it ‘is nothing compared to what it would be if the tapes ever go into public domain.'”


    Along with the tapes, detailed records of the CIA’s so-called “torture flights,” showing the planes, destinations and even the passengers, were also said destroyed.

    Read more:… /

    NOTE: Was this court hearing discussed at Aspen this weekend ,does anyone know?

  15. MadDog says:

    @MadDog: And we will still have to wait for some unknown amount of time (perhaps forever in spite of Brinkema’s intent to publicly docket it?) for the Memorandum Opinion undergoing classification review.

  16. Gitcheegumee says:


    I wanted to thank you for the Aspen Insitute conference info. I did not have time to review all of the panel with Yoo and company, however, on some gloomy, rainy night I hope to review it-and other panels…when I can give them the” attention” they deserve.

    I AM curious as to how the particular moderators were chosen for each panel. I noticed a plethora of MSM names.(Perhaps these were the sponsors of this meet and greet? )

    What was telling,at least to me, were the names of folks who weren’t represented as Marcy Wheeler,Jane Hamsher, Seymour Hersh, Jeff Kaye…

  17. MadDog says:

    @MadDog: Whatever was I thinking? *g*

    Should be For today’s EW links, Jeffrey Sterling Steven Aftergood over at Secrecy News has the Risen ruling:

  18. Mary says:

    @BoxTurtle: @14 – Let’s see, first entice them into loading up on home debt because prices will only go up. Then take away education support so that they view mortage debt even late in life as a legitimate vehicle for helping fund college. Then kill the employment market, first hurting the college kids in whom they sunk those equity line funds. Then tighten credit all around so no one can borrow easily. Then offshore their jobs so they are looking at unemployment or low wage part time employment along with their unemployed college kid grads. Then tell them that now, a the least employable time of their life and with a horrible job market – they have to “keep working” until they are ever-older. At the jobs that won’t pay the mortgage, while their kids aren’t finding good jobs either.


  19. JohnT says:

    From the text on the screenshot

    Warner justifies raising age for SS because those under 35 don’t think it’ll be there anyway

    So says the 1%er

    Meanwhile in the real world


    … Cindy Hounsell, president of the Washington-based Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement, known as WISER:

    “This proposal is the latest attack on the fraying safety net, … Social Security is a lifeline for older women, because it has becoming increasingly difficult for the average woman to accumulate sufficient assets for retirement, let alone women in low-paying, physically demanding jobs that don’t provide pensions.”

    WISER has accumulated the statistics: Nearly two-thirds of working women earn less than $30,000 a year, which makes it difficult to save. Almost half of these low-paying jobs do not provide retirement plans or 401k plans.


  20. P J Evans says:

    This morning, in one of several LA Times stories on the deficit kabuki deal, I posted a comment which said, in part:
    If Mr Obama had been chief negotiator at the Paris peace talks, 40 years ago, North Vietnam would have gotten all our bases in the Philippines and Okinawa, an aircraft carrier, and an AWACS plane.

  21. bmaz says:

    @P J Evans: Wait, the LA Times still has stories? Wow, I thought they fired all their journalists and were going with all ads. Kinda like the Pennysaver or something…

  22. Gitcheegumee says:

    Bob Schacht:

    Over at Anti War website there is a terrific editorial piece by Nat Hentoff I think you(and others) would be very interested in:

    US ‘Black Hole’ Prison’s Activities Kept a Secret
    by Nat Hentoff

  23. matthew carmody says:

    Of course he’ll hide behind a white guy to do this. But it’s still a fact that Social Security was brought into play by the Al Jolson president himself.

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