Alan Simpson Resignation Roundup

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After Alan Simpson's letter to OWL Executive Director Ashley Carson--and his comment, made therein, about Social Security being a "cow with 310 million tits!"--the calls have built up for his resignation as co-chair of President Obama's fiscal commission. A rundown:


OWL-affiliated National Council of Women's Organizations, in a petition circulated Wednesday:

We call for the resignation of Alan K. Simpson as co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. We have given the former Senator several chances at redemption, but his email today to our sister member organization, the Older Women's League, illustrates his clear disrespect for Social Security, women and the American people, highlighted by his degrading, sexist, ageist and profane language. In the closing few sentences of the e-mail he states, "It's the same with any system in America. We've reached a point now where it's like a milk cow with 310 million tits! Call when you get honest work." 

Social Security Works Executive Director Eric Kingston, on Wednesday:

"Alan Simpson's comments are offensive and sexist and clearly demonstrate that he is unfit to continue to lead the President's Fiscal Commission. His comments not only show his true view of women and older Americans but also his disdain for the very program he claims he is trying to protect - Social Security. Social Security Works is demanding that he resign immediately. If he will not, the President must fire him. Alan Simpson has no business deciding the fate of hundreds of millions of Americans' retirement future.  He should have no power over Social Security, which provides vital economic support to millions of children and people with disabilities, as well as seniors and  their families."

AARP, saying the remarks undermine the fiscal commission, on Wednesday:


"Senator Simpson's latest attack on Social Security is offensive for several reasons, particularly for belittling a bedrock program that is the foundation of family security for all generations.  The vast majority of the 310 million Americans he insulted - particularly 156 million women and younger Americans for whom the traditional pension will be a relic of history - don't have access to the type of traditional pension retirement security that Sen. Simpson has from his decades in Congress.  Perhaps that's why his comments demonstrate a woeful disconnect from or disinterest in the challenges facing many American families for whom Social Security is literally a lifeline.

"Sen. Simpson's most recent departure from reality would be easy to dismiss if not for his position co-leading a Presidential commission that will likely recommend changes to Social Security.  Sen. Simpson's remarks not only cross the line of good judgment, but they undermine the serious work of the commission and give us little confidence the commission can fairly look at important programs such as Social Security."

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, on Wednesday:

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, that IOKIYAR rules completely.

And no, an apology won't suffice. Simpson was completely in character here; it was perfectly consistent with everything else he's said, and with his previous behavior. He has to go.

North Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Elaine Marshall, on Thursday:

"Alan Simpson's remarks were disrespectful to women and to social security recipients. He should resign or the President should fire him," Marshall said, speaking at the Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte.

"The fact that he thinks this way shows that he can't do his job with an open mind. We should be doing everything in our power to strengthen and protect Social Security, not attacking the recipients who depend on it."

New York Democratic Congressman Jerrold Nadler, on Thursday:

We cannot trust the integrity of any product or recommendations of the Commission as long as former Senator Simpson is the Chairman. His insulting and outrageous comments reveal his own mistaken belief that Social Security is a) in crisis, b) about to collapse, and c) contributes to the deficit. None of this is true. In fact, the Social Security Trust Fund has a $2.5 trillion dollar surplus, and it will be able to pay 100 percent of benefits through 2037, according to the Social Security Board of Trustees. What's more, Social Security has not contributed at all to the federal deficit. It is well known that Simpson has tried time and again over the years to raise the retirement age and cut Social Security benefits, and he makes no attempt to disguise his goals and attitude toward Social Security in his most recent comments.

Furthermore, Simpson demonstrated a total disrespect for women and an unjustifiably contemptuous attitude toward Ashley Carson, Executive Director of the Older Women's League. His comments were offensive, ignorant, and misleading, and he should be fired immediately.

The Strengthen Social Security coalition, in a petition circulated on Thursday:

On behalf of the 125 organizations in the Strengthen Social Security Campaign, which have more than 50 million members, we are writing to urge you to remove former Senator Alan Simpson from his position as co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. ...

While we may disagree with the scope of the Fiscal Commission's work, we believe there should be no disagreement about the need for a co-chairman of the Fiscal Commission to show objectivity and sensitivity in order to fairly debate the future of America's arguably most successful and most important government program.

More, surely, to come.

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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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