Monday, February 24, 2014

Greedy billionaire blows chance to cut Social Security

Loony billionaire Pete Peterson is probably furious that cuts to Social Security are becoming less of a possibility every day.  For years he's wanted to eliminate Social Security and Medicare and slash government spending. To that end, he created an astroturf group called Fix the Debt.

Fortunately, Peterson's  incompetent lieutenants made sure the Fix the Debt campaign backfired -- badly.

Real people fought back against the Fix the Debt billionaires, and they're winning: Congress raised the debt ceiling without a whimper recently. President Obama last week submitted a budget that keeps Social Security benefits at their current levels. A Gallup poll released a week ago shows American voters continue to view debt and the deficit as low priorities, despite the $40 million Fix the Debt spent to convince them otherwise.

Americans want jobs, and cutting government spending is exactly the wrong way to create them.

Fortunately for America's middle class, Fix the Debt was headed by two incompetents: corporate looter Erskine Bowles and crazy old coot Alan Simpson.

Bowles never understood that fixing the debt begins at home. He served as director of two corporations that required massive government bailouts --  Morgan Stanley and General Motors -- thus adding to U.S. government debt. Bowles was paid handsomely for looking the other way.He plundered corporations of $3.3 million for some very light duty, a few board meetings a year)

All you need to know about Alan Simpson is he actually compared Social Security to 'a milk cow with 310 million teats.'

Fix the Debt's comical attempts to persuade Americans they need to make do with less are recounted by the peerless Mary Bottari at the Center for Media and Democracy.

Bottari tells us Fix the Debt thought it would be a good idea to round up 100 CEOs to lecture Americans on how we need to expect less. Writes Bottari,
Grassroots groups were in no mood for advice from Fix the Debt CEOs, like Goldman Sach’s Lloyd Blankfein, who somberly explained to CBS News in November 2012 that Americans had to “lower their expectations.”
A worse spokesman could not have been found. Blankfein, after all, is CEO of the bailed-out investment bank also known as a 'great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.'

Sen. Bernie Sanders hit the roof and took to the floor of the Senate to denounce Blankfein's unbelievable arrogance.

Things got even tenser, as someone from the right-wing Heritage Foundation slugged a protester:
...protesters descended upon a Fix the Debt event for the first time, chanting loudly and rattling a senior presenter from the Heritage Foundation. Burke Stansbury from the Campaign for Community Change took a punch from the Heritage hysteric, and the throwdown was on.
Dozens of groups jumped into the fray, disclosing the conflicts of interest behind Fix the Debt's leadership council. State leaders, under pressure from community groups, were forced to resign. Bottari tells us they included  In Iowa, co-chair Dr. Andrea McGuire, former Congressman Dave Nagel, and State Rep. Bruce Hunter all resigned under pressure from the community group Iowa CCI. Michigan also lost its co-chair Jocelyn Benson. Virginia State Senator Ken Plum chose to pull his name, along with Juan Cotto of Washington State.

Some more entertaining lowlights:
  • A group called Social Security Works entered a film in a contest sponsored by Pete Peterson and won.
  • Economists at U-Mass Amherst made headlines around the world by uncovering mistakes in a study that supported Fix the Debt's argument that budget cuts create economic growth. 
  • The Institute for Policy Studies released another damning report showing that Fix the Debt firms could gain as much as $173 billion if Congress adopted their proposed tax system, which would increase the debt. 
  • Fix the Debt affiliate The Can Kicks Back launched a bus tour of college campuses with a German-made BMW. As part of the tour they collected cans -- all 800 of them, at a cost of $3,000 a can. 
  • They were caught ghostwriting bogus op-eds for students in newspapers.
Their campaign backfired so badly that now Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tom Harkin sponsored a bill to increase Social Security benefits.

And on Feb. 12, Politico reported that The Can Kicks Back was ... wait for it ... in debt.

Moral of the story: When real people fight back, they win.