Alan Simpson, Social Security, and the Welfare Barons of the Livestock Industry

President Obama’s Deficit Commission is co-chaired by Alan Simpson, a Wyoming rancher, who has used some pretty strong language critical of social programs’ cost to tax-payers.

Bill Willers points out how Simpson’s own favored past-time enjoys the massive cash infusion of a significant wasteful government program that produces little to no public value at the expense of the west’s wildlife and natural character:

Alan Simpson, Social Security, and the Welfare Barons of the Livestock IndustryOpEdNews

Alan Simpson, co-chair of President Obama’s Deficit Commission, likens Social Security to “a milk cow with 310 million tits.” But Simpson, a Wyoming rancher, is certainly familiar with a welfare “tit” that is a con game of continental magnitude maintained for “permittees,” mostly ranchers like himself, who lease grazing allotments on America’s public lands.

Conservationists have petitioned Obama to cut the federal grazing program to help balance the agencies’ budget.

Will Alan Simpson be willing to recommend to Obama a meaningful cut of a bloated, wasteful and destructive government program that disproportionately enriches the wealthy, landed gentry of the West  ?






  1. Linda Hunter Avatar

    When I look at pictures of tea party gatherings I see lots of down home American folk, non of whom look like they have had the means to put aside separate money for their own retirement and they seem to wield the word “entitlement” around like a sword. . but that money that comes out of their check every month called “social security” may be the only thing they will have when they get too old to work. I have a problem understanding how they have been convinced that a mandatory government retirement program that THEY pay for is evil. If we do away with social security by using those funds for other purposes, what will the economy look like when you suddenly have 310 million (or just a fraction of them) Americans suddenly looking for work.

    1. Daniel Berg Avatar
      Daniel Berg

      I’m troubled by the frequency in which your argument is used. There seems to be this mentality with some people that “How could you possibly disagree with a program that gives you something?”

      While your statement about the reprecussions of doing away with social security is valid, why not defend it on its merits, instead of making assumptions about the financial position of tea-party members and questioning their intelligence in a veiled sort of way?

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Simpson also had bad things to say about money going to disabled vets. He wants to slash their benefits. on Alan Simpson. Alan Simpson calls veterans health benefits a drain on the U.S. economy. By Sheila Guilloton.

    Welfare rancher Simpson has always been one of the western politicians who irritated me the most with his slow-talking, phony, bullshit, “Western wisdom.” It seemed to entrance reporters though, at least those from the East.

  3. william huard Avatar
    william huard

    These teaparty people will not survive. You cannot run a political party with no position or EXTREME right wing social positions. This lady this morning was spouting about Reagan, she forgot he raised the deficit more than any other President in 100 years, I think 139%. These people are really out there, from forcing women to have a rapist’s child to abstinence! It is almost scary watching a moderate republican like Castle losing to a person that used her donations to buy clothes and rent!

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

      William Huard,
      I think the tea party’s success in Republican primaries probably means the Democrats will hold the U.S. Senate, but why won’t Obama fire Simpson from the deficit commission?

      1. william huard Avatar
        william huard

        That’s a good question Ralph. There are several things going on that make completely no sense. Conservatives are complaining that this liberal agenda, an agenda that has been largely more centrist than not, is taking away everyones freedom. You mean freedom to take away a womans right to choose what is best for her, or the freedom to have your health care coverage cancelled when you get sick! I don’t get it! So the tea party would favor allowing no intervention into the economy after what a lack of regulation did to our economy?

      2. JB Avatar

        William, Ralph:

        I recall seeing a poll sometime back that indicated that ~80% of Tea Party “members” (membership is hard to define since there is no “party” in the traditional sense) were simply far-right republicans. These are the folks that stayed home during the last Presidential election because the McCain-Palin ticket was too moderate for them. To be honest, I think they’ve done a heck of a job motivating the far-right of the Republican base for the upcoming election. However, they have taken some downright CRAZY positions in the process. I think these folks will turn out for the upcoming election, the question is, will democrats and independents turn out to oppose them. They certainly have given the dems all of the sound bites they will need for attack ads this election season!

      3. Ralph Maughan Avatar


        I think Democrats and independents are now getting pretty wary of the tea party, but if Democrats want to do better than just hang on, the President needs to do something dramatic to actively stimulate them.

        There are a number of things he could do unilaterally. If all he does is give “tough” speeches, his party won’t do much better than hang onto Congress by their fingertips.

      4. JB Avatar

        I agree, Ralph. Obama has taken very moderate positions and tried to work with Republicans from the get-go. It got him absolutely nowhere–heck he can’t even get up-or-down votes on his appointees. It is time to recognize that compromise with these folks is impossible; their whole strategy has been to delay any significant change and wait for the midterms. It is time for Obama to toss away the olive branch and give something back to the people who put him in office.

      5. timz Avatar

        “I agree, Ralph. Obama has taken very moderate positions and tried to work with Republicans from the get-go. It got him absolutely nowhere–heck he can’t even get up-or-down votes on his appointees. It is time to recognize that compromise with these folks is impossible; their whole strategy has been to delay any significant change and wait for the midterms. It is time for Obama to toss away the olive branch and give something back to the people who put him in office”

        And the exact same thing could be said about the Dems when Bush was in office. You who think there is a difference between the two parties are dillusional.

      6. Save bears Avatar
        Save bears

        Uh Oh,

        Two times in the same day, Tim has agreed with me and now I agree with him!!! Yikes!


      7. timz Avatar

        So are we pals now 😉

      8. Save bears Avatar
        Save bears

        I don’t know that I would go that far!!!!!

      9. JB Avatar

        “You who think there is a difference between the two parties are dillusional.”

        The difference is in the parties priorities, not in how they play politics (though I submit that the Republicans play the game better than the Dems). Democrats stress social programs, Republicans stress military spending. The parties also disagree on which “freedoms” or “rights” get emphasized. The Democrats emphasize a woman’s right to choose, greater transparency in government and equality of religion; Republicans emphasize 2nd amendment rights and “individual” liberties (so long as those liberties are for white, male, Christians). For example, if you’re Muslim, you shouldn’t have the right to build a Mosque wherever you want. 😉

        Most of the rest of the alleged differences are window dressing.

  4. Alan Avatar

    I really don’t understand how so many seniors support a “party” with so many “members’ that openly advocate trashing their benefits.
    Just suggesting that disabled vet. benefits should be slashed should be enough to get this guy thrown out of office. These people put their lives on the line for Mr. Simpson and the rest of us, and are suffering the consequences of doing so. How dare he!
    Personal savings and responsibilty are fine but ya know, s**t happens. Loss of a job, market crash (a lot of retirement funds are there, because you aren’t going to get very far in a .50% savings account), major medical bills (no job, no insurance; house foreclosed (yes, you COULD afford it until you were out of work for eighteen months!), new roof, car goes blooey, and those savings can go bye-bye real fast.
    Social Security was never meant to be a national retirement plan, but a safety net. Folks who think we no longer need that net should take a good hard look at photographs of the soup lines from the twenties and thirties before we had it. Is that really where they want to go?
    Welfare and entitlements are fine as long as they go to rich people. Is that how it is Mr. Simpson?

  5. Cody Coyote Avatar
    Cody Coyote

    Brian and Dear Readers— I converse with Al Simpson on occasion . We do jocular lunches; his treat. He will hear about this very topic of underpriced grazing fees with respect to his national deficit reduction obligation . Trust me. It’s been on the top of my ” Simp List” for quite some time.

    It’s important to keep some perspective here. There’s a vast difference between being the co-owner of an alleged cattle ranch by inheritence of same , and being actually engaged in day to day management of same and having to run the checkbook. Al’s father Milward, a former Wyoming Governor and US Senator, sorta just ” acquired” the Bobcat Ranch on the South Fork of the Shoshone River about 35 miles out of Cody. Back in those days , the old saw was lawyers would barter for livestock in lieu of legal fees. Some of the better lawyers ended up with whole ranches. These were not isolated cases…it’s a long list , just here in my little berg of Cody. The prestigious legal firms all had complementary cattle ops . These days, Al and his brother Pete are the defacto owners of the Bobcat, but it’s more for a family hideway and recreation than red meat . They contract out the cattle and graze. Every ranch up there does the same. We call the Upper South Fork “Little Wall Street “. Billionaires acquired the bigger better palces years ago…even Bill Gates ( or one of his most senior partners ) has Buffalo Bill’s old hunting lodge. We are blessed with seeing the likes of Warren Buffet and Rupert Murdoch debarking their private jets at the Cody airport for a South Fork retreat regularly, as guests of resident hobby ranchers on the Fortune 500 list. The cows are just for tax purposes. The Simpson ranch is the only place I know of where helicopters have landed and scantily clad women of dubious intent stepped off to give a lawyer son a bachelor party to remember for all time.

    One of Al’s favorite sayings comes to mind: ” In Wyoming we have many sacred cows. Some of them are even cattle…”

    Now, about those grazing fees , Al ….

  6. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Cody Coyote,

    Well I guess that explains why Simpson is so concerned about the “little people” and now-we-can-throw-away vets sucking off of Social Security and the Dept. of Veterans Affairs.

    It’s the neighbors he has who are concerned that they will have to pay a higher social security tax than the little people.

    1. Save bears Avatar
      Save bears

      As a disabled Vet, I would love to stand face to face with him and have him tell me I need my benefits decreased! Hell after fighting for several years now, I have had enough problem over benefits, I don’t think I wold take to kindly to having someone tell me that I need to take less!

      I can assure you I would take my 26 years of service and frustration out on his hide!

      1. JimT Avatar

        As well you should. The last generation of soldiers who got what they deserved for service to their country were the WWII vets. Since then, benefits have been slowly eroded, and problems…like today’s PTSD and suicide rates…are ignored or addressed in a half assed way.

        For the record, I opposed going into Nam, and all of the so called justifiable wars since then with the lone exception of the first Afghanistan sortie. I may oppose most military actions, but if one serves in the military, those folks deserve considerable benefits and a commitment to having those benefits continue so long as they are needed.

      2. Save bears Avatar
        Save bears

        What some of these people don’t realize, when you enter the service, there is a contract signed between the person signing up and the federal government…to try and reduce their benefits after they have fulfilled their side of the contract is nothing but a travesty…I have 17 combat ribbons on my uniform(many from actions never reported in the press), I graduated from the military academy with an expectation, that if I did my job, they would do their job..

        They tried to drum me out, after I was wounded in 1991, I had to fight them to maintain my position as a training officer, I was wounded, not out of commission, then after I went non-active subject to recall, I went back to school, received a degree and went to work for a state agency, in my chosen field. Once I did, the political machine caused me to loose that position, because I would not doctor studies and reports to fit a specific agenda! Now I have an opportunity to work for another state, only to find out they are again fucking with me, not that I don’t think I can’t overcome this interference, but it is really pissing me off.

        I did my job, with no complaints!! Now, just leave the vets alone, they did their jobs, fulfill your part of the contract you assholes!

        You don’t have to agree with the war, but for god sake, don’t penalize those who did your bidding! and stood with honor and dedication…one of my proudest memories was the day I took my oath to honor, protect and serve this country, and despite my problems over the years, I have no reservations for doing such!

      3. JimT Avatar


        Well said, and anger is well justified. The thing I always hated the most about the Nam war was the duplicity of the leaders and the sacrifice of tens of thousands of lives, and hundreds of thousands of wounded and the families that was based on self serving policies. My friends and generations were used for the love of their country in alot of cases, and I find that a craven and cynical posture by our leaders at the time.

    2. Cody Coyote Avatar
      Cody Coyote

      I’ll pass along your concerns. My “Simp List” is growing longer.

      I seem to dimly recall that it was Simpson who did as much as anyone to elevate Veteran’s affairs to cabinet level. He really has his name on only two major pieces of legislation in all his 18 years in the Senate…the V.A. Bill, and the infamous Simpson-Mazzolli Immigration bill.

      The irony is, by being appointed to this deficit commission he will be able to do ( or at least strongly suggest) in one swoop all the things he could not accomplish in 18 years in D.C.— wipe out everything FDR and LBJ enacted for the betterment of society. His appointment to this thing is perplexing at the least and cynical at worst ( but what high dollar Republican would not be ? ). The last Commission that Al sat on —the Iraq Study Commission had almost none of its recommendations adopted.

      Al really is a fun guy when he sheds his politician skin and reverts back to human form . That’s the problem: he’s a walkin’ talkin’ shuckin’ Jekyll and Hyde… and for the purposes f this blog I have to add: No friend to wildlife. Read the chapter on grizzlies in Todd Wilkinson’s seminal book ” Science Under Siege” to see how Senator Simpson worked behind the scenes. Scary.

  7. Virginia Avatar

    I have known Alan Simpson all of my life. I used to babysit his children. His father, Milward, paid for my father to attend college at the University of Wyoming. He helped one of my son’s in a time of great need. It is one of those things, where you like the guy, but you hate his politics. I do not understand his hatred for the AARP and Social Security. My mother would be struggling if she did not have her social security. This is not to tell my story, but Alan is a big hearted guy who would do anything for you. But, he was born with a silver spoon and has not ever really wanted for anything, as Cody Coyote has stated above. I would like to ask him if he refuses to take the retirement from being in the Senate for 25 years, does he refuse any “entitlement” from being a veteran, did he and does he refuse any VA benefits, Medicare, etc., etc. I am sure he would say that he gives it all to charity and maybe he does – some. But, he is certainly on the wrong side of these issues.

    I stood by a friend who is a Vietnam veteran at the July 4th parade in Cody this year who told me that the vets who were exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam are finally going to get some compensation for that. As he said, “the Republicans have been holding this up for years. Only when Obama came in did we finally see a chance to get this compensation.” After how many years – 37, I believe??

    Alan should just go back to his retirement in Cody and continue to bathe in the love this community has shown him and stay out of an issue that he is so biased against.

    1. JimT Avatar

      It is ludicrous that Nam vets are still fighting that battle…or any other for that matter.

      I find most senior Senators on both sides of the aisle tend to believe their own publicity and myths as their terms go on and on. That is one of the reasons I favor term limits for both of the Federal legislative arms…three terms..18 long enough for any person to stay in that office. I also think the House term should be extended to 4 years..all of the reasons the original term was 2 seem to have vanished with gerrymandering and safe districts..and they should be limited to 4 terms.

  8. timz Avatar

    Save Bears, you and I don’t see eye to eye much here but I have had a couple minor run-ins with the V.A. after my years of service (nothing on a scale of what you experienced) and I totally agree with every thing you just said. I don’t think people who ever served (no offense to anyone intended) realize some of the sacrifices made by Vets.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

      There is a problem that fewer and fewer politicians have served in the military. Now that is not the case with Simpson’s generation, of course.

      I do think that in terms of national unity, a sense of common purpose, and the willingness to sacrifice for the good of all, the creation of the all volunteer services was a bad thing.

      1. JimT Avatar

        There should be some sort of mandatory national service…not necessarily military, but some sort of time one could enter public service and contribute to the common welfare of the country.

        off topic..I apologize.

      2. pointswest Avatar

        That will never happen here. The wealthy will shoot it down. The wealthy in this country are not going to have their airs serving the state! The state serves them and airs must learn to assert discipline over the state to keep wages low and to protect their wealth and property from all you scum. We need to keep our priorities straight in this country or it will turn into some commie socialist hell. God bless America.

Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox

Brian Ertz