Another RINO has been unearthed within the ranks of the Republican Party. This one is self-declared.
Former Republican Senator Alan Simpson walks a fine line between being cast as a folksy old cogger out to destroy the social safety net and that of a veteran conservative politician doing what he believes is best for Americans. His thoughts on cutting Social Security benefits are a prime example of the former. He’s called seniors “greedy geezers” and is now declaring that Social Security was never created as a means for old folk to retire with an acceptable means of income at their disposable.
You know damn well that the system was never created as a ‘retirement’ — it was an ‘income supplement’ to take care of folks working in CCC camps and who lost everything in the Great Depression.
Well, that statement is about as wrong as wrong can be. As an LA Times piece points out, Social Security was “explicitly designed as a retirement program.” Simpson needs to be informed that the documents and words from The Committee on Economic Security, the original drafters of Social Security, still exist. The program was all about retirement.
So how is it that a man can be so wrong about one issue and so right on another? Here he is discussing his place in the Republican party in regard to criticism by Paul Ryan that the Bowles-Simpson deficit-reduction plan weighs too heavily on tax increases.
Well, I think my party and I have different views on a lot of things. I guess I’m known as a RINO now which means Republican In Name Only because for social views perhaps, or common sense would be another one which seems to escape members of our party. Abortion is a horrible thing, but for heaven sakes, it’s deeply intimate and personal decision, and men legislators shouldn’t even vote on it. Gay lesbian issues, we’re all human beings, we’re all God’s children, what is this?
And for heaven sakes, you have Grover Norquist wandering the earth in his white robes saying that if you raise taxes one penny, he’ll defeat you. He can’t murder you. He can’t burn your house. The only thing he can do to you as an elected official is defeat you for reelection. And if that means more to you than your country when we need patriots to come out in a situation when we’re in extremity, you shouldn’t even be in Congress.
And his take on no-compromise, take-no-prisoners attitudes in the age of Tea Party politics is dead on.
“…This is madness,” Simpson said. “If you want to be a purest, go somewhere on a mountain top and praise the east or something, but if you want to be in politics, you learn to compromise and you learn to compromise an issue without compromising yourself. Show me a guy who won’t compromise and I’ll show you a guy with rock for brains.”
Charm has never been Simpson’s strong suit. Here he is in a classic interview with Bill Maher from a few years back. What I love about this clip is how quick Simpson’s inner grouch takes over the interview. Make sure your kid’s ball never rolls on this guy’s lawn.
(The source image for the first illustration above is a photograph from The Library of Congress. The Alan Simpson source photograph is a Creative Commons licensed image from the Park County Library System. )