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06.20 ALEC’s Deadly Asbestos Agenda Benefits Koch Industries, Nationwide [the sociopaths are at it again]
06.16 Delhi's air pollution is now so bad it is literally off the chart [an increasingly deadly problem]
06.15 What if Canada had backed wind energy instead of the oil sands? [infographic]
06.10 Microplastics in our mussels: the sea is feeding human garbage back to us [our pollution becomes us...]
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US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
06.22 As 'Wealthiest and Freest Country in the World,' Nikki Haley Tells Bernie Sanders It's 'Ridiculous' to Examine US Poverty [how underregulated capitalism kills people and entire nations]
06.22 50 Years Later, We Still Have a Dream [how underregulated capitalism kills people and entire nations]
06.21 James Comey: 'You stare at children crying – what kind of people are we?’ [We have stupidly allowed bribery and greed to corrupt government to the point where morality—and what's best for people is totally ignored...is considered too late.]
06.20 Democratic candidates vow to dump Pelosi [if you want single-payer, then corporate Democrats must not have leadership]
06.20 Millions Lack Food, Housing, and Healthcare, But 38 Democrats Just Joined GOP to Spend $716 Billion on Endless War and Empire [it's about pleasing your corporate base for huge “campaign donations”]
06.20 'Morally Bankrupt': After Tax Cuts for Richest, House GOP Unveils $5.4 Trillion Attack on Nation's Safety Net [the sociopaths are at it again]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
06.22 The Unsurpassed Power Trip by an Insuperable Control Freak: An Open Letter to Jeff Bezos [how underregulated capitalism kills people and entire nations]
International & Futurism
06.22 Europe’s democrats must unite to prevent a far-right takeover [how underregulated capitalism kills people and entire nations]
06.20 'Outraged, But Frankly Not Surprised': In Defense of Serial Violator Israel, US Ditches UN Human Rights Council [the sociopaths are at it again]
Pete Peterson’s Anti-Entitlement Juggernaut
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: 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:
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.
This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.This story was published on April 28, 2010.