President Establishes Debt Commission to Look at Social Security and Medicare

February 19, 2010

President Establishes Debt Commission to Look at Social Security and Medicare
Yesterday, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order establishing a commission to tackle the federal debt.  The commission's purpose is to reduce the federal budget deficit from 10% to 3% by 2015 and to propose ways to contain costs related to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.  As co-chairs of the commission, the president named former Bill Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and former Republican Senator Alan Simpson.  Bowles, president of the University of North Carolina, worked to pass the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 with Republicans in Congress when he was White House Chief of Staff.  He ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 2002 and 2004.  Simpson served as a Wyoming senator from 1979 to 1997 and as Senate GOP Whip from 1985 to 1995.  Alliance Executive Director Edward F. Coyle said yesterday, "Retirees fully support President Obama on the critical need to reduce our nation's budget deficit.  Older Americans have always been uncomfortable with large debt, both in government and in their own families.  We are, however, wary of the objectivity that Commission Co-Chair Alan K. Simpson will bring to this important assignment.  As a Senator, Simpson referred to older Americans as 'greedy geezers' and launched bitter and protracted assaults against advocacy groups for seniors.  Social Security benefits would have been cut under his plan to change the statistical formula used to calculate Cost-of-Living Adjustments."  Mr. Coyle continued, "We believe that if the Commission takes a thorough and honest look at Social Security and Medicare, it will conclude that these vital programs should be strengthened, not weakened.  Social Security and Medicare are two of our nation's greatest success stories, helping generations of seniors stay healthy and out of poverty."  For Coyle