When Alan Simpson left the Senate in 1997 to retire to his ranch on a cushy Federal pension, many Americans breathed a sigh of relief that we would no longer be exposed to his thoughtless rants of disregard for “we, the people”. Alas, we are again blasted with his sneering references to the poor and the old as sucking at the “cow” with 310 million “teats”, (a word to which he gives the archaic pronunciation). He hides behind the excuse that he is a “country boy” who is accustomed to “straight talk.” Well, I’m an old country girl who is quite familiar with that same straight talk and ready to give the world the “straight skinny.”
This old fool would have the American public believe that he, due to his years of Senate seniority, has more wisdom than we. This is not true! A look at his biography will demonstrate that, rather than having pulled himself up by his bootstraps, he has always been a child of privilege and that privilege has come from that same old “cow” whose “milk” he does not want to share. His father was a United States Senator before him and every opportunity that he has enjoyed in his life has resulted from his daddy’s position.
Senator Simpson, the younger, was graduated from college with a law degree and admitted to the bar in 1958 with his military obligation already satisfied, due to having spent a year in the Army in service in Germany, a chore which involved no combat. Rather than working hard to establish himself as a practicing attorney, he went straight to “public service” as, first, a lowly Assistant Attorney General of Wyoming, advancing rapidly until he found his way to the U.S. Senate in 1978.
So, for virtually every day of his life, he was supported by Federal funds which enabled him to attend college at a time when others were having to earn their living the hard way. At every step of his career, he benefited from his father’s influence as a United States Senator in political appointments that were not available to the underprivileged hoi polloi for whom he has such disdain.
Now, I not only understand his reference to the “cow”, I also recall the old country adage about dogs. When a new litter of puppies was born, they instinctively claim a position in the nursing order and this order was watched by the owner to see which puppy chose the teat that was most rearward on the mother. This puppy was believed to be the smartest, most healthy, and most desirable pup of the litter because he was the one who “sucked the hind teat.” Obviously, Senator Simpson has been “sucking the hind teat” all his life and it is time he moved over and demonstrated a bit of concern for the rest of the litter, a trait common in the dogs who began in this position.
Those of us with intact memories will recall that Senator Simpson has, from the beginning, been at the forefront of the Republican campaign to repeal every one of the humanitarian measures that have been passed over the years to fight poverty by the maintenance of the poor. From Roosevelt through Johnson, every president has fought to take care of the disabled and the elderly and have done so despite the opposition from the Republicans in Congress. To ask this man now to head a committee charged with the task of returning the national budget to a liquid state should be recognized as an open door to the continuation of his lifelong ambition. His proposals are sufficient evidence of his selfish determination to destroy any opportunity for the non-rich to live their sunset years in peace with a measure of financial security that is still far less then he has attained from his privileged existence.
Along with many other Americans, I have not been able to understand why he was the one whom President Obama called to chair the “deficit committee” but I do believe that Obama is regretting his choice and will not turn to the same pattern the next time he has a problem. I’m sure that Senator Simpson is enjoying his return to the public spotlight but the old codger should be gently replaced in his rocking chair and his Federal pension reduced to the levels of the Social Security upon which his fellow Americans must depend.
This writer is eighty years old and has spent a half century working with handicapped and deprived people and advocating on their behalf while caring for her own working-class family. She spends her “Sunset Years” in writing and struggling with The System.