Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell (D) has a reputation of being a champion for the middle class. But since he left his position as governor, he's decided to sell himself out to various shady causes that are willing to pay big for his advocacy. For example, he became a paid speaker for the MEK, an Iranian cult group that waged a sophisticated campaign to get de-listed from the U.S. Terrorism group list, despite its past violence against Americans and others.
His latest sellout involves Social Security and Medicare. He has joined the "Fix The Debt" campaign, a $30 million effort designed to implement the Simpson Bowles plan to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits while lowering corporate taxes.
Here's what he said on NPR today about how he wants to cut Social Security and Medicare:
RENDELL: But what the president should've said I think and what I hope he says before the campaigns over is look the most important thing we've gotta do is fix the debt...and I intend to do that. Look at entitlement programs, because look, when Social Security and Medicare were passed, people were living average life expectancy of 67, 68, now it's 79 and a half years, and they weren't meant to cover that much time, so we've got to restructure.
First of all, Social Security is completely unrelated to the debt. The program funds itself and is fully funded going out to 2037. After that, if we simply raise the payroll tax cap, it will be funded far out into the future. By conflating Social Security with the debt issue, Rendell is being simply dishonest.
Second of all, the numbers he's citing about life expectancy are misleading. It's true that there have been strong gains in life expectancy for some Americans -- those who work white-collar jobs and don't do much physical labor. But for blue-collar people, there have not been any significant gains in life expectancy at all. Check out this graph from the Center for Economic and Policy Research. As you can see, the bottom of half of Americans are barely living any longer at all:
We contacted Fix The Debt for comment but their press official has yet to respond.