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Alan Simpson pens scathing letter to 'greedy geezers' retiree group

May 23, 2012|By Kim Geiger
(Brendan Hoffman / Getty…)

WASHINGTON -- Former Sen. Alan Simpson has again unleashed his sharp tongue on critics, this time in the form of a scathing letter that accuses the California Alliance for Retired Americans of being “greedy geezers.”

The Oakland-based retiree organization had protested the Republican’s visit to the Bay Area earlier this year,  in which he promoted his deficit-cutting plan that would, among other things, raise the retirement age for Social Security.

“Bowles! Simpson! Stop using the deficit as a phony excuse to gut our Social Security!” the group's fliers said, referring to Simpson and his counterpart Erskine Bowles, co-chairmen of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, the commission that has called for $4 trillion in savings over 10 years.

Months later, the group received a response from the retired senator from Wyoming.

The letter, dated April 7, scolds the “wretched group of seniors” and “greedy geezers” for including the faces of young people on its fliers.

“You must feel some sense of shame for shoveling out this…,” Simpson wrote. “Read the latest news from the Social Security trustees. The Social Security system will now ‘hit the skids’ in 2033 instead of 2036. If you can’t understand all of this you need a pane of glass in your naval [sic] so you can see out during the day!”

Jodi Reid, executive director of California Alliance for Retired Americans, said the group was “completely taken aback” when it first read the letter.

“I think people were shocked that a senator and someone who’s still in the public eye, talking about issues that are very important to people, is so inflammatory,” Reid said. “If we’re serious about dealing with the deficit and these issues, then we need to have a real conversation, not call each other names.”

This isn’t the first time Simpson has offended people with his colorful language.

Back in March, he ranted about younger generations of Americans during an appearance on Fox News.

“You know, grandchildren now don't write a thank-you for the Christmas presents, they're walking on their pants with the cap on backwards listening to the enema man and Snoopy Snoopy Poop Dogg, and they don't like them!" he said.

Criticizing lawmakers who are reluctant to cut entitlement programs, Simpson said last year: “I’m waiting for the politician to get up and say, ‘There’s only one way to do this; you dig into the big four: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and defense. And anybody giving you anything different than that, you want to walk out the door, stick your finger down your throat and give them the green weenie.’”

But the biggest uproar came last year when an email surfaced in which Simpson declared Social Security to be “like a milk cow with 301 million [teats].” Simpson had sent the email to Ashley Carson, the executive director of National Older Women’s League, in response to a blog post Carson had penned criticizing Simpson for referring to Social Security advocates as “Pink Panthers.”

The incident sparked a fundraising campaign, StuffAlanSimpsonSays.com, by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee PAC.

But Reid says her organization was “shocked” by Simpson’s tone and thought at first that the letter might not be real. It was penned onU.S. Senatestationery. And the phone number on the letterhead goes to the voicemail of Ann Pendley, Simpson’s former assistant.

Coincidentally, the board of the California Alliance for Retired Americans was gathered Wednesday for a routine meeting, Reid said. The board was considering if -- and how -- to respond.

“It’s hard to know how to respond to a letter that’s so inflammatory,” said Reid, who pondered whether answering him would only make matters worse or whether there was “a way to take the high road.”

Simpson, for his part, encouraged a response.

“Read the report,” he wrote in the letter. “Get back to me. My address is below.”

Reid said the board would vote on the matter Wednesday.

kim.geiger@latimes.com

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