Tales from the Trail

Tit for tat

Deficit commission co-chair Alan Simpson has apologized for remarks to a women’s group that compared Social Security to a “milk cow with 310 million tits.”

ITALYBut that is not good enough for the National Organization for Women (NOW),  which has launched a “Tits for an Ass” campaign to toss the former Republican senator off the panel that was created by President Barack Obama to recommend ways to cut the $1.4 trillion deficit.

NOW says that for every $5 donation to the group, it will deliver a baby-bottle nipple to the White House to pressure the administration into dumping Simpson who has made similar colorful remarks about the retirement program in the past.

The “T and A” battle started with an email that Simpson wrote to Ashley Carson, the executive director of OWL, which stands for the Older Women’s League. OWL, which formed in the 1970′s as a part of  NOW, calls itself the voice of midlife and older women. In the email, Simpson not only called Social Security a milk cow, he told Carson to “call when you get honest work.” 

NOW called the email “a sexist rant.”

Some lawmakers have joined the fray, demanding Simpson go.  Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, and Representative Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat, put out statements late Wednesday urging Obama to dismiss Simpson, who heads the 18-member bipartisan panel alongside Democrat Erskine Bowles. The commission is to make its recommendations on putting the federal budget on a more sound fiscal footing in December.

Social Security and milking cows

An email by deficit commission co-chair Alan Simpson saying the Social Security retirement program has reached a point “where it’s like a milk cow with 310 million tits” is prompting calls for his resignation.

Ashley Carson, executive director of OWL which calls itself the voice of midlife and older women, said the email sent to her by Simpson was “insulting.” Other comments about “greedy geezers” by the former Republican senator fail to recognize that many older women rely on less than $12,000 a year in Social Security benefits, she said.ECONOMY/JOBS

“We’re demanding for Mr. Simpson to step down as co-chair,” Carson said, adding that if he won’t go voluntarily, then President Barack Obama, who created the commission, should ask him to leave.

Ex-Commerce pick Gregg still welcome at the White House

WASHINGTON – New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg certainly irked the White House by accepting the nomination to be Commerce secretary and then withdrawing, but it seems he is still welcome at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

President Barack Obama on Monday will host a summit on “fiscal responsibility” at the White House which is aimed at addressing the long-term issues like the costly Social Security retirement program and Medicare health care system and Gregg said he has accepted an invitation to attend.
gregg2Gregg, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee,  withdrew last week as the Commerce secretary nominee because of fundamental policy differences with the Democratic Obama administration, particularly over the economy.
Even so, it seems that both sides have agreed to move on and even work together.
“Reform is urgently needed, especially as long-term entitlement spending threatens to strangle our economy, and action must be taken sooner rather than later,” Gregg said in a statement.
“I will certainly do everything I can to work with the president and others in Congress to set a course for the long-run that addresses the issue of how we pass on to our children a government they can afford,” he said.

For more Reuters political news, click here.

- Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young (Obama in early February with Gregg.)

McCain says he’s opposed to raising taxes

comics.jpgKANSAS CITY, Missouri – Republican presidential candidate John McCain is tangling with taxes again.
The Arizona senator found himself in hot water with conservatives after telling ABC’s “This Week” last Sunday that “nothing is off the table” in trying to protect the Social Security benefits system for seniors.
At a town hall meeting in Aurora, Colorado, McCain said: “I want to look you in the eye: I will not raise your taxes nor support a tax increase. I will not do it.”
He added, “I am opposed to raising taxes on Social Security. I want to fix the system without raising taxes.”
That statement earned the praise of the conservative Club for Growth organization in Washington, whose president, Pat Toomey, called it “exactly what the country needed to hear.”
McCain, at a fundraising event for his campaign, returned to the subject. “I am opposed to raising taxes. I am opposed to raising taxes,” he said.
“And any negotiation that I might have when I go in, my position will be that I’m opposed to raising taxes. But we have to work together to save Social Security.”
“This young man standing right in front — Social Security beneifts won’t be there for him when he retires. Is this right for us to lay off to the next generation of Americans a burden that we imposed on them? No. And it’s not America, it is not America,” he said.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

Photo credit: Reuters/Mike Blake (covers of McCain and Obama biographies at ComicCon covention in San Diego)

Obama courts the over-70 set

CHARLES CITY, Indiana – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama tried on Thursday to win over members of one of his most skeptical audiences: senior citizens.

Those voters have tended to be a strong base for Obama’s rival Hillary Clinton, a former first lady and New York senator. At 60, Clinton is older than the 46-year-old Obama and is seen by many older voters as the more experienced candidate.

Visiting an assisted living center in Indiana, the Illinois senator shared stories about his grandfather’s service in World War II, his grandmother’s frugality and his mother’s battle with cancer.barack.jpg