Wednesday, May 16, 2012

This loony billionaire wants to cut your Social Security

Not if Pete Peterson gets his way.

You may have never heard of Pete Peterson, but you've heard of his campaign to destroy Social Security.

Peterson, a Wall Street billionaire, has spent half a billion dollars trying to convince Americans that Social Security is going broke and therefore needs to be privatized.

Social Security is not going broke.As David Cay Johnson recently reported, Social Security,
...took in more than it spent last year, added $95 billion to its surplus and lifted 20 million Americans of all ages out of poverty...
Peterson is on the radar screen this week because he's hosting a "fiscal summit" in Washington. (We prefer digby's characterization: the "Poor People Ritual Sacrifice confab.") Ryan Grim at Huffington Post took the opportunity to review Perterson's tax records from 2007-11. Grim found,
Peterson has personally contributed at least $458 million to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation to cast Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and government spending as in a state of crisis, in desperate need of dramatic cuts. Peterson's millions have done next to nothing to change public opinion: In survey after survey, Americans reject the idea of cutting Social Security and Medicare. A recent national tour organized by AmericaSpeaks and largely funded by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation was met by audiences who rebuffed his proposals. 
But Peterson has been able to drive a major shift in elite consensus about government spending, with talk of "grand bargains" that would slash entitlements, cut corporate tax rates and end personal tax breaks, such as the mortgage deduction, that benefit the middle class.
This is a stunning amount of money. As Grim points out, all corporations and unions spent less than $4 billion on lobbying in 2011.

We'll just leave you with Esquire blogger Charles Pierce's description of Peterson's campaign to drive 20 million Americans into poverty:

..."centrist" economic "solutions" that would give the Pete Petersons of the world their golden dream of pumping Social Security money into the Wall Street casino and casting the elderly and the infirm onto the tender mercies of the private health-insurance market. And all of this in the middle of a soft recovery from a disastrous recession. If there was ever a time when the country needed "centrist" solutions less, and a vigorous and raucous class-based debate over who should profit from the American system, it's right now.