Published August 27, 2010
Two Democratic lawmakers and several women's advocacy groups are calling on President Obama to fire former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson from the federal debt commission board he co-chairs, claiming his sexually charged language in an e-mail in which he compared Social Security to a "milk cow with 310 million tits" proves he's sexist.
In a conference call Friday, four women's groups and Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., said Simpson's sexist attitude and misguided view of Social Security make him unsuited to inform decisions about America's financial future.
"This issue is not only about his sexist comments towards me, said Ashley Carson, executive director of the National Older Women's League.
Simpson, 79, sent the e-mail to Carson after she criticized his stance on Social Security. He later wrote Carson to apologize for his remarks and noted her interest in protecting the program.
"Over the last 40 years, I have had my size 15 feet in my mouth a time or two. To quote my old friend and colleague, Senator Lloyd Bentsen, when I make a mistake, 'It's a doozy!"' he wrote.
But that didn't satisfy Carson.
"It's about a man appointed by the president who has a negative attitude toward women," she said. "We urge Obama to fire Simpson. He has a past of negative attitudes toward women and seniors."
"Simpson's language is not only abusive, but misleading about Social Security. Simpson is not an expert. If we cut Social Security, women will move from middle class to poverty," added Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women
Earlier this week, the White House said Simpson's job is safe.
"Alan Simpson has apologized and while we regret and do not condone his comments, we accept his apology and he will continue to serve," said Jennifer Psaki, the White House deputy communications director.
Grijalva said that Simpson's desire to cut Social Security would not help the growing deficit.
"We have not heard about the real deficit generators; Bush tax cuts and defense spending," said Grijalva.
Separately, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., issued a written statement saying the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform recommendations cannot be trusted as long as Simpson is on the team.
"Simpson demonstrated a total disrespect for women and an unjustifiably contemptuous attitude toward Ashley Carson, executive director of the Older Women's League. His comments were offensive, ignorant and misleading, and he should be fired immediately," Nadler said.
Simpson, known in Washington circles as one of the more acerbic politicians to hit the circuit, has said raising the age to receive Social Security benefits is one of many options on the table for reducing the $13 trillion debt.
Earlier this year, the former Wyoming Republican senator, who served on the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Social Security and Family Policy, was caught on tape saying it's "bull---t" to claim he's making seniors bear the brunt of the debt reduction.