You got a sense from some of the coverage of the Simpson/Bowles deficit commission report that their right-leaning prescription was exactly the kind of solution the corporate media could get behind. Charlie Rose could apparently only find two panelists who wished the commission had gone further with its spending cuts.
On the "other" side was Harold Ford, currently the chair of the right-leaning Democratic Leadership Council. A debate from the near-right to the far-right, in other words. Vanity Fair journalist Bethany McLean was on hand too.
As if the panel wasn't tilted enough on its own, host David Gregory was posing questions designed to keep the discussion off to the right:
I don't see why, for instance, some of these suggestions, Harold, on Social Security are going to be demagogued to death. Why, in 50 years, people can't look at raising the retirement age and have that be a serious discussion point?
It's worth repeating (as Dean Baker did here) that the retirement age is already rising, and will continue to do so--though for whatever reason many reporters and pundits either don't know this or just don't mention it.
And for his part, Ford was doing his part to bash the liberal wing of the Democratic party:
There are smart, sensible people in both parties. As long as you don't allow the far left and the far right, again, to crowd out the predominant middle, we can get a lot of this done. If that means making tough choices on Social Security--I'm 40, I'm willing to give mine up, and I think a lot of people my age who may reach a certain income level are willing to do the same.
I guess the good news is that Ford is wealthy enough to not need Social Security. Of course, rich people deciding not to take their benefits would have no serious impact; taxing their income, on the other hand, would. As Doug Henwood put it, raising the cap on taxable income "would eliminate the system's alleged long-term problems forever, according to the Congressional Budget Office." I wonder if Harold Ford would get behind that idea.
by Peter Hart FAIR