Delete Posts by date custom field - script review help.

I have this piece of code that I think should work, but alas...

If anyone could take a peek and see if there something obvious. I have reviewed a lot of resources on the wordpress codex, but have tried all I can think of.

PS. I have stored dates in 2014-12-23 format.

// This function will run once the 'expired_post_delete' is called

function expired_post_delete() {

$todays_date = the_date();

$args = array(
    'post_type' => 'post',
    'posts_per_page' => -1,
    'meta_key' => 'date',
    'meta_query' => array(
        array(
            'key' => 'date',
            'value' => $todays_date,
            'type' => 'DATE',
            'compare' => '<'
            )
    )
);
 $posts = new WP_Query( $args );

//  Cycle through each Post ID
    foreach( $posts as $post_id ) {
    wp_delete_post( $post_id);
}
}