Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
The "very serious people" (VSP) in the Beltway media have long been enamored with the co-chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (aka the Catfood Commission) -- Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, who utterly failed in their assigned task. (h/t Graphic by Twolf).
The Catfood Commission never issued a single recommendation to Congress, because the Catfood Commission failed to muster the requisite 14 votes to adopt a single proposal. As a result, the Catfood Commission failed to issue a final report to Congress. Because there were no recommendations from the Catfood Commission, Congress never voted on a single recommendation of the failed Catfood Commission.
Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson did, however, prepare what is known as a "chairmen's mark" for the Catfood Commission, but that document is only the chairmen's recommendations. Since the Catfood Commission failed to adopt the "chairmen's mark," it is immaterial and irrelevant. . . to everyone except the VSP's in the Beltway media, who elevated Bowles and Simpson to almost demigod status on Capitol Hill.
The VSP's goal was to convince the public that the Bowles-Simpson "chairmen's mark" is oh so serious by oh so serious people and should be taken oh so seriously because the Beltway media villagers' conventional wisdom deemed it oh so serious.
Taking advantage of this this VSP adulation from the Beltway media, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson cofounded the campaign to Fix The Debt, an organization larded with K Street lobbyists and corporate CEO's. Bowles and Simpson have personally profited from their failed Catfood Commission by taking their act on the road as "Fix The Debt" to lecture about the federal debt. Reporting on this Bowles-Simpson act frequently fails to disclose their cofounder status of "Fix The Debt." Other board members, like former Governor Ed Rendell, also frequently fail to disclose their status with "Fix The Debt" when appearing on the tee-vee.
One of the board members of "Fix the Debt" is Michael Peterson, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation -- an organization singularly dedicated to ending Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Pete Peterson’s Anti-Entitlement Juggernaut. As I have mentioned before, The Washington Post partnered with Pete Peterson to write about the federal deficit, er, spread his propaganda. The Washington Post Lets Pete Peterson Write The News On The Deficit. As I have said before, everything published by the Washington Post should come with a disclaimer disclosing this parternership -- but it does not.
On Tuesday, the Bowles-Simpson act released their "Bowles-Simpson 2.0" plan for dealing with the federal deficit. First of all, no one in the government requested that they do this, so this is a project of their "Fix The Debt" organization. This important detail gets left out of almost all reporting I have read. Secondly, the Bowles-Simpson plan is so lacking in specific details that it is laughable as a serious plan. But oh, the VSP's of the Beltway media spent an entire news cycle trying to convince the public that it is oh so serious by oh so serious people and should be taken oh so seriously because the Beltway media villagers' conventional wisdom deems it oh so serious.
Steve Benen dismissively writes, Meet the new Simpson-Bowles plan:
The original Simpson-Bowles plan aimed for some semblance of balance, though spending cuts topped revenue. The new Simpson-Bowles plan, however, is entirely one-sided, leaning heavily in Republicans' favor.
I'd like to go into more detail as to how and why these proponents crafted their plan this way, but in an odd twist, Simpson and Bowles published their new plan with hardly any numbers in it. In fact, it's probably a mistake to call this an actual "plan," when it's more of an outline. I know roughly how much they want to cut, but as is the case with Republican rhetoric in general, I don't know where the cuts would occur or by how much.
There have been plenty of debt-reduction packages put together over the last couple of years, but the new Simpson-Bowles proposal is the vaguest. It's not encouraging.
As I understand it, the original goal of Simpson and Bowles was to spread the pain around, creating a plan that neither side would love, but which would tried to make everyone feel the pinch in roughly the same quantities. Democrats and Republicans would complain, but they could stomach the package, the argument went, knowing that their rivals were sacrificing just about as much as they were.
With Simpson-Bowles 2.0, that goal appears to have vanished altogether. Instead we see a vague plan that leans heavily -- almost self-consciously -- in one party's direction, while setting a new debt-reduction goal for reasons the report's authors fail to mention.
I'm not sure who's supposed to be influenced by an unbalanced plan like this one [the VSP's of the Beltway media], but I have a strong hunch it won't make any legislative progress anytime soon.
The larger story here is how the corporate mainsteam "lamestream" media is in bed with Pete Peterson and the lobbyists and corporate CEO's of "Fix The Debt," and other groups, bent on destroying Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and to benefit the wealthy elite plutocrats of the corporatocracy. Everything in the news is tainted by their propaganda, and their relationships with the media is never fully disclosed or disclaimed. ("Journalistic ethics" is now an oxymoron). The "very serious people" of the Beltway media are perpetrating a fraud on the American people. And you have to be smart enough to see through the propaganda.
UPDATE: Ezra Klein writes, Simpson-Bowles 2.0 Trades Credibility for Influence.