NBC’s Sunday Morning Austerity Program

You got a sense from some of the coverage of the Simpson/Bowles deficit commission report that their right-leaning prescription was exactly the kind of solution the corporate media could get behind. Charlie Rose could apparently only find two panelists who wished the commission had gone further with its spending cuts.

On NBC‘s Meet the Press (11/14/10), the panel discussion featured former Fed chair (and Ayn Rand devotee) Alan Greenspan and far right former Republican politician Newt Gingrich.

On the “other” side was Harold Ford, currently the chair of the right-leaning Democratic Leadership Council. A debate from the near-right to the far-right, in other words.Vanity Fair journalist Bethany McLean wason hand too.

As if the panel wasn’t tilted enough on its own, host David Gregory was posing questions designed to keep the discussion off to the right:

I don’t see why, for instance, some of these suggestions, Harold, on Social Security are going to be demagogued to death. Why, in 50 years, people can’t look at raising the retirement age and have that be a serious discussion point?

It’s worth repeating (as Dean Baker did here) that the retirement age is already rising, and will continue to do so–though for whatever reason many reporters and pundits either don’t know this or just don’t mention it.

And for his part, Ford was doing his part to bash the liberal wing of the Democratic party:

There are smart, sensible people in both parties. As long as you don’t allow the far left and the far right, again, to crowd out the predominant middle, we can get a lot of this done. If that means making tough choices on Social Security–I’m 40, I’m willing to give mine up, and I think a lot of people my age who may reach a certain income level are willing to do the same.

I guess the good news is that Ford is wealthy enough to not need Social Security. Of course, rich people deciding not to take their benefits would have no serious impact; taxing their income, on the other hand, would. As Doug Henwood put it, raising the cap on taxable income “would eliminate the system’s alleged long-term problems forever, according to the Congressional Budget Office.” I wonder if Harold Ford would get behind that idea.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.