“The very rich are different from you and me.” Yes, and that’s why their representatives on the Catfood Commission are horrified that their fellow commissioner Alan Simpson was so indiscreet as to reveal what they think of most Americans: Namely, that we’re “lesser” than them.
Honestly, just check out the list of the Catfood Commission’s current membership, starting with the ones appointed by Obama:
ERSKINE BOWLES, co-chairman — Like his late father Skipper, an investment banker as well as a big-wheel politician in North Carolina. Prominent Clinton Administration figure (In January of 1998, Business Week called him “Corporate America’s Friend in the White House“) and deeply involved in the Gingrich-Clinton pact to kill Social Security — a pact derailed by Monicagate.
ALAN SIMPSON, co-chairman — Another son of a prominent politician, and also the father of one, Simpson is not exactly a man of the people no matter how many rodeo badges he wears. Fortunately for us, he doesn’t hide his upper-class arrogance as well as he thinks he does, hence his rather revealing outburst against us “lessers” last week.
— Honeywell bigwig Cote is #9 on the list of 2009’s 10 Biggest CEO Paychecks as enumerated by CNNMoney.com, bringing in an obscene $28.7 million in the wake of the economic crisis left by the popping of the Bush-era financial bubbles. But hey, cut the guy some slack: In the five years from 2002 to 2007, the poor fellow had to make do with overall total compensation of only $60.23 million. I know, I know, my heart bleeds for him, too.
— Former Federal Reserve vice chair, OMB head under Bill Clinton, founding director of the Congressional Budget Office from 1975 to 1983 and now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Doesn’t sound too bad so far, right? Well, except that she, like the not-so-trusty Social Security “trustees”, uses extremely pessimistic economic growth projections to justify keeping a tight rein on spending — which is not what we need at a time when massive government stimulus is needed to restore our dying middle class.
(By the way: Ever notice how over the past decade and a half, the Social Security Doomsday has been getting pushed farther and farther into the future? That’s because of the trustees’ having to admit a tiny bit of reality every so often.)
— Reuters tells us that “Fudge worked as chairman and chief executive of Young & Rubicam Brands from 2003 to 2006. She previously held executive positions at General Mills and Kraft. Fudge would bring business experience to the budget panel.” Yeah, as if the panel already wasn’t weighted in favor of Big Business and against everyone else. She’d also bring the pro-tobacco viewpoint on top of the pro-corporate viewpoint. How charming.
— Until recently, Andy Stern was the president of the Service Employees International Union. He’s there as a sop to labor and progressives, even though, as a member in good standing of the Veal Pen, that group of tame progressive organizations whose job it is to cover for the Obama White House’s pro-corporate bent, he’s not going to buck the drive to put Grandma on catfood.
Okay, so much for the Obama picks. Are Harry Reid’s any better?
SENATOR RICHARD DURBIN
— Majority Whip Durbin’s an alleged liberal and alleged No. 2 in the Senate, who one would hope to be a “fierce advocate” on behalf of most of us non-rich. But a quick review of the recent headlines he’s generated tells a different story:
SENATOR KENT CONRAD
— Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, Conrad’s one of those “fiscally conservative Democrat” imaginary-hippie-punchers from a majority-white historically rural state which, since it benefited from both the ethanol boom and the oil boom, has both comparatively low unemployment and a vast unconcern about how the rest of the (urban, nonwhite, high-unemployment) country is doing. (See also: Ben Nelson, Nebraska.) As the proponent of worthless “co-ops”, he worked almost as hard as Max Baucus to kill the public option and loves cutting programs that help the little guy and gal, all in the name of a bogus “fiscal responsibility” that doesn’t stop him from advocating giving big breaks to rich people. Speaking of which:
SENATOR MAX BAUCUS
— Gag a maggot. Baucus is Conrad with a shinier coat and slicker manner. It was his very good friend Liz Fowler, a WellPoint VP, who wrote the Senate’s health care bill, the one which of course had no public option nor Medicare drug price negotiation and thus passed muster with industry stakeholders.
Can it get any worse than this? Shockingly enough, yes — just look at the people Mitch McConnell picked:
SENATOR JUDD GREGG
— The moron from the Granite State opposes any stimulus package that might help someone who isn’t already rich. And yes, he’s from yet another dynastic family: His father Hugh was governor in the 1950s, and he himself has been New Hampshire’s governor as well as its Congressional representative.
SENATOR TOM COBURN
— Enough said. To be fair, Coburn’s one of the few Republicans willing to commit the heresy of suggesting that the
War Defense Department could use a few budget cuts. But like all other modern Republicans, he’s much more into cutting stuff that helps poor and middle-class Americans than he is into cutting things that give tax dollars to rich people. However, he isn’t totally callous: Last year, he suggested that the unemployed “find lotsa diamonds” as an alternative to being given evil government jobs.
SENATOR MIKE CRAPO
— Let’s see: He wants to cut Social Security benefits AND privatize the sucker. Enough said.
Wow, so far every single person we’ve seen is either an elitist pig who is a strong advocate for putting Grandma on catfood, or a spineless alleged liberal who spouts disturbingly pro-catfood jargon. But surely Nancy Pelosi’s picks will balance things out, right? Right?
REPRESENTATIVE JOHN SPRATT
— Oh, joy, yet another “fiscal conservative” from a wealthy family that stands to benefit from the cuts he favors. From Wikipedia: “Spratt is the son of John McKee Spratt, Sr. and Jane Love Bratton. His father founded the Bank of Fort Mill and the York law firm where Spratt would eventually practice. Spratt’s only sibling is Jane Bratton Spratt McColl, wife of Hugh McColl, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Bank of America Corporation.” Oh, and he’s president of the bank his daddy founded.
REPRESENTATIVE XAVIER BECERRA
— Token anti-Catfoodie; his voice is outnumbered and outshouted by the pro-Catfood members on the commission.
REPRESENTATIVE JAN SCHAKOWSKY
— See Xavier Becerra; also note that she, like Durbin, tends to fold when it counts — though as noted above, Durbin’s in essence folded already.
That’s it for the Pelosi contingent. The rest of the commissioners were picked by John Boehner, and I don’t have to tell you where they all stand and why — but I will anyway:
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN
This is the Ayn-Rand-worshiping clown who recently proposed cutting Medicare and privatizing Social Security in terms so blunt even his fellow Republicans couldn’t run away from him fast enough. Of course, being a Randroid means he by definition sees himself as a superior being like Rand’s fictional hero John Galt, who according to Rand was being unfairly held back by having to be nice to his inferiors. (Oddly enough, Mister Free Market voted against repealing the anti-trust law exemption currently enjoyed by health insurance companies. But I digress.) He occupies what used to be Les Aspin’s seat, but the CD got infused with a bunch of white-flight McMansioneers from Illinois (or as they’re referred to by the natives, FIBs or Fucking Illinois Bastards) that brought their reactionary politics with them, even as the companies whose union members voted for Democrats folded.
REPRESENTATIVE JEB HENSARLING
— Texas dingbat and backbencher who often associates with Paul Ryan. The National Review loves him. What else do you need to know?
REPRESENTATIVE DAVE CAMP
— Camp helped ram through welfare “reform” in 1994, and has consistently been pro-corporate and anti-little-person throughout his congressional career. Enough said.
In short, these are folks who for the most part, to quote Frank Zappa from his song “The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing”: …just takes care of number one, and number one ain’t you. You ain’t even number two…