May 232012

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson sent an fiery letter filled with expletives to the California Alliance for Retired Americans for a flyer the group sent out slamming the Bowles-Simpson commission report for proposed cuts to Social Security as one way to deal with the long-term deficit.

“Your little flyer entitled ‘Bowles! Simpson! Stop using the deficit as a phony excuse to gut our Social Security!’ is one of the phoniest excuses for a ‘flyer’ I have ever seen,” said Simpson in a letter obtained by Politico.

The flyer from the group argues that Social Security is in no risk of going bankrupt.

“Even the most pessimistic forecasts say Social Security’s $2.5 Trillion surplus will fund 100% current benefits until 2037, and 78% current benefits forever, even if nothing is done,” it read.

Simpson doesn’t agree with the group’s positive outlook and goes on to call the group’s message an irresponsible slap in the face to young people.

“What a wretched group of seniors you must be to use the faces of the very people that we are trying to save, while the ‘greedy geezers’ like you use them as a tool and a front for your nefarious bunch of crap.”

The Bowles-Simpson commission, also known as National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, was established by President Obama in late 2010 to establish a long term plan for dealing with the Nation’s $15 trillion debt.  Read their report here.

One of their proposals calls for gradually raising the Social Security eligibility age and an increased payroll tax.  The commission also calls for a progressive benefits based system that would reduce benefits for higher income seniors.

Not everyone agrees with the Bowles-Simpson assessment on Social Security.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is one of the most powerful defenders of the current system declaring that the program, while in trouble, is not headed for a crisis.

Indeed many critics of Social Security cuts argue that the program itself is sound but has suffered recent fiscal challenges thanks to Congress extracting money from the Social Security trust fund. Congress and President Obama took $100 billion in short-term revenue from Social Security when they passed the Payroll Tax Holiday back in February.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., raised eyebrows among progressives a few weeks ago after expressing support for Bowles-Simpson but then later clarified on ABC’s This Week that she is interested dealing with Social Security as a separate issue.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

May 082012

ABC NewsUPDATE: The Democrats’ student loan bill, as predicted, has failed to move forward in the Senate.  Cloture on the “motion to proceed” to the bill was not invoked which means the bill will not be formally taken up. The vote was a party-line vote – 52 to 45 with one senator, Olympia Snowe, R-ME., voting present.  Not voting were Sen. Lugar and Sen. Kirk.  Majority Leader Reid changed his vote to “no” in order to enter a motion to reconsider, perhaps indicating that there is a way forward being negotiated. Both parties are currently huddling for their weekly caucus lunch.  

(WASHINGTON) — The Senate is going nowhere fast in attempting to prevent student loan rates from doubling July 1. It is scheduled to vote Tuesday to take up the Stop Student Loan Interest Rate Hike Act. But the vote, just to move forward to a debate on the bill, is in jeopardy.

Both Republicans and Democrats believe the subsidized Stafford loan rates should not be doubled from the 3.4 percent to 7.6 percent and agree the lower rate should be extended for at least another year. But both sides cannot agree on how to pay for the $6 billion bill, setting up a nasty battle that will plague Congress in the weeks and months ahead.

Democrats propose paying for the bill by raising the Medicare and Social Security payroll taxes on high-earning stock holders of some privately owned companies. Republicans oppose the measure.

Republicans propose to pay for the bill by getting rid of a preventative health fund that was created in the health care bill. Democrats oppose this and the proposal has no chance of getting through a Democratic-controlled Senate.

Republicans are likely to “filibuster” the Democratic proposal by preventing the bill from proceeding without the 60 votes needed.

Senate Democrats say they are happy to offer Republicans a vote on their alternative pay-for, but first the bill has to be moved forward in the Senate without a Republican filibuster. Meaning the “motion to proceed” Tuesday is an important step Senators must take if they are serious about moving this bill forward in the Senate. Senate Republicans say they are working with Harry Reid to try to lock in a vote on their own bill.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Jan 132012

ABC/Ida Mae Astute(CHARLESTON, S.C.) — Stephen Colbert is putting his money where his super PAC is.

On his Comedy Central show Thursday night Colbert announced “an exploratory committee to lay the groundwork” for his “possible candidacy for president of the United States of South Carolina.” He also handed control of his super PAC, Citizens for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, over to his colleague, Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show.

ABC News has learned that the group is already buying up television air time in South Carolina. A source tracking ad buys in early primary states told ABC that the super PAC has purchased nearly $10,000 worth of time on a broadcast station in the Charleston, S.C., area between Jan. 15 and Jan. 19.

And according to a South Carolina news web site, the Palmetto Public Record, the super PAC is also reportedly “negotiating a substantial media buy in the Columbia market.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio