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11.22 Hinkley Point C subsidy has dealt consumers 'a bad hand', say MPs [even ignoring the possibly huge costs of nuclear calamities in the future...]

11.22 Renewables will drive 'steep decline' in wholesale electricity price in Australia – report [with a steep decline in air pollution too!]

11.22 Too right it's Black Friday: our relentless consumption is trashing the planet

11.22 Poor sperm quality linked to air pollution

11.21 Jet fuel from sugarcane? It’s not a flight of fancy

11.21 World’s Cheapest Solar Power in Mexico a Coal-Killer [Trump's obsession to help the coal industry and power plants is obviously stupid in many ways]

11.20 Replacing Liddell coal plant with clean energy $1.3bn cheaper – analysis

11.20 Battered by extreme weather, Americans are more worried about climate change [graphs]

11.20 Luxury Socialized Medicine

11.20 Keystone XL pipeline decision: what's at stake and what comes next? [the public's water is at risk]

11.20 A civil rights 'emergency': justice, clean water and air in the age of Trump

11.19 27-Year Study Finds the Amount of Insects Flying in the Air Has Declined 75 Percent

11.19 'My eyes are burning': Delhi holds half marathon despite pollution warning [“Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]

News Media Matters

11.22 RIP net neutrality: FCC chair releases plan to deregulate ISPs [like the end of The Fairness Doctrine for the news media under Reagan, we expect content and practices to tilt further to favor monoplies and 'conservatives']

11.18 The Paradise Papers: How Ridiculously Easy It Is For The Rich To Avoid Taxes [birds of a feather flock together]

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

11.22 Christian Theocracy, Authoritarianism, And The Blind Support Of Roy Moore

11.22 Can Republicans Stem the Tide of Women Abandoning Their Party?

11.21 Why is Donald Trump launching a withering attack on nonprofits?

11.21 Lies, Incoherence and Rage on Tax Cuts

11.21 Inequality Out of Control: The Average 1% Household Is Over $2.5 Million Richer in the Past Year

11.15 GOP Tax Bill Would Trigger $25 Billion in Cuts to Medicare, Warns CBO

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High Crimes?

11.18 US, European Nations Slammed for 'Complicity' as Humanitarian Groups Demand Aid for Yemen

Economics, Crony Capitalism

11.20 Monaco builds into the Med to house new throng of super-rich [Can we ever have laws to fully prosecute $Billionaire tax dodgers if the courts and government are bribed? If not, can we have a civilized anarchy instead?]

11.19 The Design Flaw at the Core of Humanity's Malaise

11.18 'All Out Class War': GOP Bill Cuts Taxes for Private Jet Owners, Hikes Taxes on Students

International & Futurism

11.22 The long read: After the liberation of Mosul, an orgy of killing

11.22 Coup in Zimbabwe: A win-win for China – for now

11.22 Vladimir Putin briefs Donald Trump on plan to end Syrian civil war [in the forthcoming agreement, we predict that all of the oil and gas profits (from pipeline decisions, etc.) will go to the oligarchs du jour, with only nice words for the people of the region who have suffered so much...]

11.21 The Saudi System And Why Its Change May Fail

11.21 Saudi Billionaires Look for Ways to Protect Assets From Any Government Purge

11.20 Zimbabwe is not the banana republic of western fancy. After Mugabe, it can thrive [let's all pretend like he really did resign...] [when it's safe, create and grow a government sovereign wealth fund with national mineral wealth mining profits—like Norway did—to facilitate becoming a stronger society, improve public services and build a world-class economy]

11.20 EU to push for 40% quota for women on company boards

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  Pete Peterson's Anti-Entitlement Juggernaut

COMMENTARY:

Pete Peterson’s Anti-Entitlement Juggernaut

by James Ridgeway
First published in his blog Unsilent Generation on Tuesday, 27 March 2010
Obama has stacked his own commission with people who lean heavily toward one particular solution to the deficit and national debt: cutting entitlements. Whereas cutting the hugely bloated Defense, Homeland Defense and Intelligence budgets—which wouldn't harm anybody on fixed incomes needing health care—are never mentioned.

When Obama’s new deficit commission gets going, it intends to be “partnering“–in the words of executive director Bruce Reed –with outside groups. Among them will be the foundation run by Wall Street billionaire Peter G. Peterson, who on Wednesday will upstage the president with his own fiscal summit in Washington. Obama insists he is keeping an open mind about how to deal with the deficit and national debt–but as I’ve written before, he’s already stacked his own commission with people who lean heavily toward one particular solution: cutting entitlements. And now he is working hand-in-glove with a wealthy private organization whose central purpose is to cut Social Security and Medicare. Talk about foregone conclusions.

Peterson, according to Forbes, was the 149th richest man in America last year, with $2.8 billion in assets. During his long career he has been, among other things, CEO of Bell & Howell, head of Lehman Brothers, a co-founder of the Blackstone Group, and head of the Council on Foreign Relations. He was Nixon’s Secretary of Commerce, and in 1994 served on a Clinton bipartisan commission on entitlements and tax reform. He launched his own Peter G. Peterson Foundation with a grant of $1 billion.

Pete Peterson
Pete Peterson: Beating a Dead Horse

A fiscal conservative, Peterson has long been issuing dire warnings about the the nation’s skyrocketing debt. The key cause of the problem, in his analysis, is that entitlement programs–primarily Social Security and Medicare, but Medicaid as well–are out of control; the only solution is to cut them. Peterson is the self-appointed head of what some people have begun to call the “granny bashers,” who argue that greedy geezers are ruining the lives of younger generations with their unconscionable demands for basic healthcare and a hedge against destitution. (Peterson himself is in his eighties–but of course he’s too rich to worry about such things.)

The granny bashers’ real agenda, of course, is to cut the social safety net programs that they have long abhorred–but they have gained far more ground with their intergenerational inequity claims than they ever would with a straight-out attack on Social Security and Medicare. The majority of the Washington punditry seem to have fallen for it–and so too, apparently, has the White House. A year ago in Newsweek, Peterson wrote:

For the first time in my memory, the majority of the American people join me in believing that, on our current course, our children will not do as well as we have. For years, I have been saying that the American government, and America itself, has to change its spending and borrowing policies: the tens of trillions of dollars in unfunded entitlements and promises, the dangerous dependence on foreign capital, our pitiful level of savings, the metastasizing health-care costs, our energy gluttony. These structural deficits are unsustainable. Herb Stein, who served alongside me in the Nixon White House as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, once drily observed, “If your horse dies, I suggest you dismount.” And yet, we keep trying to ride this horse.

In June, according to the Washington Post, Obama’s deficit commission will be participating in a 20-city electronic town hall meeting, put together by an organization called America Speaks. It is financed by Peterson, along with the MacArthur Foundation and Kellogg Foundation. This is a truly unusual event because it marks the first time a presidential commission’s activities are financed by a private group that has long been lobbying the government on the very subjects the commission is supposed to “study.”

The Peterson summit is crammed with luminaries in finance and government. First there’s the keynoter, Bill Clinton. Then there’s Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve chairman widely credited with getting us into our current economic mess, and Paul Volcker, his conservative predecessor at the Fed. Robert Rubin, Clinton’s secretary of the Treasury, and another pillar of the current economic debacle, will speak. So will Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, a leading GOP guru, who among other things wants to replace Medicare with a system of vouchers and tax breaks. Judd Gregg, the senior and probably most important conservative senator when it comes to finance, will be featured as well; he is a keen proponent of Peterson’s entitlement cuts.

The heavy hitters are all to be interviewed by big names in mainstream media: ABC’s George Stephanopolous will question his old boss Clinton; Leslie Stahl will speak with presidential commission co-chair Erskine Bowles, one of Clinton’s a White House chiefs of staff. Ranked below the big guys are a slew of lesser lights including some liberals like Lawrence Mischel of the Economic Policy Institute, Robert Greenstein of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, John Podesta of the Center for American Progress (and another former Clinton chief of staff), and former Congressional Budget Office head Alice Rivlin.

All-in-all, it seems to be dominated by Clinton-era officials, who oversaw much of the Wall Street deregulation that nearly drove the country broke. These are the people who will now try to make up the losses on the backs of the poor and the old by rewriting the hard-won entitlement programs created during the New Deal and the War on Poverty.

Meanwhile Obama–who seems to have learned nothing about strategy from the health care wars–will not say what he thinks about any of it. Instead, he prefers to sit on the sidelines and see what these people come up with–as if that horse wasn’t already out of the barn.


Born in 1936, James Ridgeway has been reporting on politics for more than 45 years. He is currently Senior Washington Correspondent for Mother Jones, and recently wrote a blog on the 2008 presidential election for the Guardian online. He previously served as Washington Correspondent for the Village Voice; wrote for Ramparts and The New Republic; and founded and edited two independent newsletters, Hard Times and The Elements.

Ridgeway is the author of 16 books, including The Five Unanswered Questions About 9/11, It’s All for Sale: The Control of Global Resources, and Blood in the Face: The Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, Nazi Skinheads, and the Rise of a New White Culture. He co-directed a companion film to Blood in the Face and a second documentary film, Feed, and has co-produced web videos for GuardianFilms.

Additional information and samples of James Ridgeway’s work can be found at JamesRidgeway.net and at his newest web site, Solitary Watch.

This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



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This story was published on April 28, 2010.
 

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