Saturday, March 2, 2013

Using Austerity To Gut Social Security: Why "They" Need The Fix (Underfunding Employee Pension Problem Solved!)



(If throwing a contribution Pottersville2's way won't break your budget in these difficult financial times, I really need it, and would wholeheartedly appreciate it. Anything you can afford will make a huge difference in this blog's lifetime.)


If you've been wondering exactly where the big money bets lie . . . here's a good place to start your search.

It's no coincidence (thank you, Jethro!) that the CEO's involved in this fraudulent crusade have underfunded their employee pensions for years (and where do you think that money went?).

Phase two, according to Fix the Debt spokesperson Jon Romano, appears to consist of the hiring, training, and sending troops out into the field: Fix the Debt has developed 23 state chapters and will deploy staff to these states in a campaign that “increasingly resembles a presidential race, with grassroots-style organizing and offices in places like New Hampshire, Ohio, Florida and Michigan,” Fortune magazine reported. “It has also recruited the support of some 2,700 small businesses (along with the 160 high-profile executives already on board), and has rallied what it calls a ‘volunteer army.’"

CMD reported that the Fix the Debt campaign’s “goal is to achieve a Simpson-Bowles style ‘grand bargain’ on an austerity agenda for the United States by the nation’s 237th birthday on July 4, 2013.”

If there is one word that characterizes the Fix the Debt campaign, it might be hypocrisy. A number of Fix the Debt firms “pay a very low or even a negative average tax rate, contributing to the nation's deficit,” CMD reported. The campaign “is secretly pushing for a major tax break that would exempt profits earned overseas by U.S. firms from taxation and encourage the offshoring of U.S. jobs.”

Fortune’s Anne VanderMay pointed out in late January that “… though several CEOs in the campaign have said they want ‘shared sacrifice,’ the group has offered little in the way of specific proposals for closing loopholes or raising corporate taxes. The result has been perceptions of a ‘tremendous conflict of interest,’ says Kevin Connor, director of the Public Accountability Initiative.”


Pete Peterson’s “Fix the Debt” Astroturf Supergroup Takes Aim at Social Security and Medicare


Bill Berkowitz

Peter G. Peterson’s cringe-worthy Fix the Debt campaign can hoover the kind of attention that most ordinary Americans couldn’t even dream about. If Peterson succeeds, a new era of austerity will be unleashed, and programs that the middle class and poor depend on will be decimated.

Peterson, a longtime political operative and one of the wealthiest men in the country, made his personal fortune “at the Blackstone Group on Wall Street, [where he] … cashed out with $2 billion shortly before the 2008 financial meltdown,” the Madison, Wisconsin-based Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) recently pointed out.

Now Peterson has assembled a huge war chest, recruited a high-powered supporting cast, developed a nationwide infrastructure, and is preparing to plop a chunk of his Blackstone money into “convince[ing] Americans -- who overwhelmingly want to keep and strengthen Social Security and Medicare -- that these programs threaten our very existence as a nation.”

The Los Angeles Times called Peterson "the most influential billionaire business figure in national politics. . . . He isn't content merely to express concern ab out the federal deficit. His particular targets are Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which he calls 'entitlement' programs and which he wants to cut back in a manner that would strike deeply at the middle class."

According to CMD’s SourceWatch, for most of the 1960s, Peterson was the Chairman and CEO of Bell and Howell Corporation. “He also worked briefly in the administration of President Richard M. Nixon as Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs (1971) a nd as Secretary of Commerce (1972). He also served as a chairman of Nixon's National Commission on Productivity and as the U.S. chairman of the ‘U.S.-Soviet Commercial Commission.’


“Peterson was later the Chairman and CEO of the now bankrupt Lehman Brothers (1973-1977) and its successor firm, Lehman Brothers, Kuhn, Loeb (1977-1984). He is also the former … chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York …. [and] Chairman for the Council on Foreign Relations, the founding Chairman of the Institute for International Economics and the co-founder of the Concord Coalition.

In 2008, he founded the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.


The Center for Media and Democracy is an invaluable watchdog group that over the years has become expert at ferreting out truth from fiction -- particularly as it relates to corporate-developed public relations campaigns, and industry-sponsored Astroturf groups.

Through ALECexposed.org, CMD was largely responsible for helping focus national attention on the hither-to secret pro-corporate, anti-tax, and anti-regulatory agenda of the American Legislative Exchange Council. Among its chief discoveries was that ALEC was deeply involved in pushing Stand Your Ground legislation in the states; legislation that resulted in the Florida shooting of Trayvon Martin last February. Over the past year, at least 42 major corporations have withdrawn support from ALEC.


According to CMD, Peterson’s Fix the Debt is “One of the most hypocritical corporate PR campaigns in decades.”

The Campaign to Fix the Debt was created in July of 2012; its first phase consisted of signing up 127 CEOs, some of whom, according to CMD, have already kicked in $1 million. “Accompanied by elder ‘statesmen’ (many of whom have undisclosed financial ties to firms that lobby on deficit-related issues), plus four PR firms, 80 full-time staff members, 23 phony state chapters, and a raft of Peterson-funded ‘partner organization,’ Fix the Debt has targeted a budget of $60 million in ‘the first phase’ of the project.”

Phase two, according to Fix the Debt spokesperson Jon Romano, appears to consist of the hiring, training, and sending troops out into the field: Fix the Debt has developed 23 state chapters and will deploy staff to these states in a campaign that “increasingly resembles a presidential race, with grassroots-style organizing and offices in places like New Hampshire, Ohio, Florida and Michigan,” Fortune magazine reported. “It has also recruited the support of some 2,700 small businesses (along with the 160 high-profile executives already on board), and has rallied what it calls a ‘volunteer army.’"

CMD reported that the Fix the Debt campaign’s “goal is to achieve a Simpson-Bowles style ‘grand bargain’ on an austerity agenda for the United States by the nation’s 237th birthday on July 4, 2013.”

If there is one word that characterizes the Fix the Debt campaign, it might be hypocrisy. A number of Fix the Debt firms “pay a very low or even a negative average tax rate, contributing to the nation's deficit,” CMD reported.
The campaign “is secretly pushing for a major tax break that would exempt profits earned overseas by U.S. firms from taxation and encourage the offshoring of U.S. jobs.”

Fortune’s Anne VanderMay pointed out in late January that “… though several CEOs in the campaign have said they want ‘shared sacrifice,’ the group has offered little in the way of specific proposals for closing loopholes or raising corporate taxes. The result has been perceptions of a ‘tremendous conflict of interest,’ says Kevin Connor, director of the Public Accountability Initiative.”

In addition, CMD pointed out, “While the Fix the Debt CEOs call for cuts to Social Security, many of the publicly-traded Fix the Debt firms underfund their employee pension plans -- making their workers even more dependent on the popular social insurance plan that American workers pay into with each paycheck.”

Pete Peterson’s got a plan alright; fix the debt on the backs of those least able to afford it, while continuing to fatten the wallets of his corporate pals.

The "Fix" Is In: Laying Bare Some Sequester Lies

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

By William Rivers Pitt, Truthout


Chris Cillizza, writer of The Fix for The Washington Post, speaking at the Miller Center, May 18, 2012.Chris Cillizza, writer of "The Fix" for The Washington Post, speaking at the Miller Center, May 18, 2012. (Photo: Miller Center

With the sequester ax trembling over the neck of the nation, everyone in the "news" media seems desperate to toss their two cents into th e well...including, apparently, some who would be wise to remain in the children's pool, lest they drown trying to stroke out to deeper waters. Enter Chris Cillizza, keeper of "The Fix," perhaps the most useless corner of the Washington Post next to the ink that publication sadly donates to the incoherencies of Jennifer Rubin.


Mr. Cillizza's "Fix" is the Post's failed-hipster answer to those who enjoy the vacuity of horse-race politics. For reasons passing understanding, the powers-that-be at the Post gave Cillizza an outlet to explain - ever without basis beyond his own dubious lights - who's up, who's down, who won, or lost, in any particular political situation. "The Fix" is a triumph of flash over substance, written with wanna-be-clever insider snark for those in DC who still think the internet isn't a real thing yet. Plainly put, Cillizza, as a journalist, is taken about as seriously as the vapid quislings who wait around red carpets to make fun of celebrities' outfits.

This is why Cillizza's article on Monday morning was so remarkable. The guy tasked to make obnoxious judgments on the surface of politics somehow won the chance to dabble in the depths and the details, and came off exactly as one would expect: like someone living in a bubble who would not get the point if it was nailed to his forehead.

For the record: the sequester, slated to take place on Friday, is a series of massive cuts to both the defense industry and the social contract, created as a hard deadline by a pack of Washington politicians who decided they could not get anything done unless they put calamity on their doorstep...but now that calamity is here, eager idiots like Cillizza have been stepping up to argue that the evisceration of the Federal budget is not actually a big deal. Hence, the article titled "Why We Need the Sequester" made its odious debut.
In it, Cillizza takes on the apparently-offensive poll numbers stating that Americans - gasp - enjoy the goods and services provided to them by the government they've been funding with tax revenues, and in nearly every instance want those services expanded. His take:

What those numbers make clear is that most people live in a fantasy world where overall federal spending decreases even as spending on virtually every federal program increases. Given that "reality", it's uniquely possible that only through crisis - manufactured or not - will people come to grips with the fundamental paradox at the center of their thinking of what the federal government should or shouldn't do.
Ermahgerd, what do we do? According to Cillizza, the American people are a pack of indolent, greedy layabouts living in a "fantasy" world where the social services they've paid for are not affordable.
Hm.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, which costs around $400 billion, was recently globally grounded due to a crack in an engine fin, a new reason among many others why no one wants this plane to begin with, yet it keeps getting built. The V-22 Osprey has been killing Marines for years now, yet it also keeps getting built, to the tune of $35 billion.
Cancel these two "defense" programs that don't work and are not wanted by the service branches expected to use them, and...gosh. That's $435 billion we just saved, along with the lives of any number of servicemembers.
Two programs.
$435,000,000,000.00
Cillizza's "fundamental paradox" about what government can and cannot afford is seated firmly in the Beltway-insider lingo of what is, and is not, off limits...and "defense" spending clearly falls into the former category. Like many others, he lives in the DC bubble, and gets paid to not write about what is most important. It's a hell of a gig if you can get it, and has been making otherwise-useless writers like Cillizza rich for decades.
For the rest of us common mortals, who expect a return on our investment, we want government to help people with the money we give via taxes, as the poll numbers Cillizza condemns clearly indicate.
We are told by grifters like Cilliza that we can't have the Post Office, or decent health care, or Social Security, or Medicare, or Medicaid, and must eat cuts upon cuts to basic services because "we can't afford them." Fact: anyone who writes that crap is lying to us with their bare face hanging out, and is deliberately avoiding discussion of where most of our tax money winds up getting squandered.
We can fund the civilized society our citizens demonstrably approve of if we make some cuts to the biggest, fattest, happiest "welfare queen" on the block: the Department of "Defense."
And in the meantime, we can leave the horse-race politics to cheap fixers like Chris Cillizza, who should probably spend less time with people who think like him and more time with, well...people.
Just a thought.

2 comments:

kenny said...

Here's a little more on 'fix.'

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Fix_the_Debt%27s_Leadership

Suzan said...

Thanks, Kenny.

That's the most informative link I've seen this year.

Take care!

S