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Simpson-Bowles 'Grand Bargain' Candidates Lose on Tuesday

Bob Kerrey photo courtesy of Esther Dyson

The conventional wisdom in Washington, D.C., and in much of the media, is that because of the debt, we need to cut benefits for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. A bipartisan commission led by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles has promoted a plan that would cut Social Security benefits, shift Medicare costs to beneficiaries, lower tax rates for the wealthy and corporations and increase the tax incentives for shipping jobs overseas. Bowles and Simpson have been promoting their plan heavily and took to endorsing candidates who they believed would support their plan.

Voters on Tuesday rejected all of the candidates that both Bowles and Simpson endorsed:

  • In Nebraska, Bob Kerrey lost to Republican Deb Fischer.
  • In New Hampshire, incumbent Charlie Bass lost to progressive Annie McLane Kuster.
  • In Rhode Island, Brendan Doherty lost to Democrat David Cicilline.

All three losing candidates were outspoken in their support of the Bowles-Simpson plan and their endorsement by the plan's authors. Voters made it clear that they don't want to cut benefits for Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. An election-night poll conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates also showed strong opposition to elements of the Bowles-Simpson plan:

  • Protecting Medicare and Social Security from benefit cuts is more important than bringing down the deficit (73% to 18%).
  • 64% favor maintaining Social Security and Medicare benefits by increasing taxes on the rich.
  • 68% oppose raising the Medicare eligibility age.
  • 69% oppose reductions in Medicaid benefits.
  • 84% oppose reducing Social Security benefits.
  • 65% oppose eliminating all taxes on the offshore profits of U.S. corporations.
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