Move over Koch brothers. Get out of the way Shelly Adelson. There’s another billionaire in town, and he’s doing all he can to privatize Social Security and Medicare programs.
Say hello to Pete Peterson.
Petersen is a Wall Street billionaire, who, according to The Center for Media and Democracy’s SourceWatch.Org, almost exclusively uses his wealth to back numerous organizations and public relations campaigns whose primary goals are to slash government funding to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
According to SourceWatch’s PetersonPyramid.org, in 2007, after making a fortune off of the public offering of a Wall Street private equity firm, Peterson pledged to spend a staggering $1 billion of his personal wealth to “fix America’s key fiscal-sustainability problems.”
A vast portion of that $1 billion is going to a shadowy astroturf supergroup campaign known as “The Campaign to Fix the Debt”. But don’t let the fairly innocuous title fool you.
As SourceWatch’s PetersonPyramid.org points out, in reality, the “Campaign to Fix the Debt” is just the latest effort by Peterson and a bunch of his billionaire friends and corporate cronies to cut away at Social Security and Medicare, all in the name of fixing America’s “debt problem”.
While “Fix the Debt” was started in the summer of 2012, before its launch Peterson was already funding organizations like the “Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget” and the “New America Foundation.” As PetersonPyramid.org notes, both of these organizations have the same goals of ultimately privatizing the Social Security and Medicare programs that millions of Americans rely on to survive.
Peterson also gave millions to support the Simpson-Bowles commission according to PetersonPyramid.org, a commission who’s proposed “solution” to fixing our debt includes massive austerity-type cuts to this nation’s social-safety-net programs. In fact, Erskine Bowles is a co-founder of the “Fix The Debt” program Peterson is funding, so it’s no surprise that the recent Simpson-Bowles Catfood Commission 2.0 plan included even more devastating cuts to Social Security and Medicaid.
Much like the many tentacles of the Kochtopus, “Fix the Debt” is more than just one campaign. As SourceWatch’s PetersonPyramid,org brilliantly points out, “Fix the Debt” is like a well-organized machine, made up of PR firms, corporate CEO’s, partner organizations, and so-called “state chapters.” Progressives argue that if the so-called “Fix the Debt” goals are reached, it will worsen the gap between the wealthy elite in America and everyone else.
But here’s the real kicker. Peterson and his “Fix the Debt” campaign have made it into the halls of The White House.
Many of the CEO’s involved with the “Fix the Debt” campaign are the heads of some of America’s largest corporations, and many have testified on Capitol Hill and met with President Obama directly during discussions on the economy and the national debt.
And then there are the corporations themselves that are involved in the campaign. The list of backers is a virtual Who’s Who of corporate greed and corruption, including big banks like Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase.
Besides defunding Social Security and Medicare, PetersonPyramid.org shows how “Fix the Debt” may also be a front for exploiting a corporate tax loophole to its fullest potential. Many of the corporations involved with “Fix the Debt” pay a negative tax rate – instead of paying taxes, they get government money back – which is a major reason why we have such a large federal deficit right now.
These corporations are pushing for a “globally competitive” tax structure that Citizens for Tax Justice says would increase the US debt by $1 trillion over the next decade, and would also encourage the offshoring of U.S jobs. While exploiting a corporate tax loophole isn’t a direct goal of “Fix the Debt,” the proposed “globally competitive” tax structure would bring in $134 billion for at least 63 corporations involved with “Fix the Debt,” according to a report by the Institute for Policy Studies.
And, of course, if Social Security is privatized, guess who takes over? Wall Street takes over. The same Wall Street where Peterson made his money, and where his buddies are salivating over the $2.7 trillion Social Security trust fund.
So what’s the bottom line to all of this?
Pete Peterson and his strong efforts to privatize Social Security and Medicare are working. Average Americans have no idea that Social Security is just fine, and has a $2.7 trillion surplus. Instead, in part because of all the PR and advertising and hired talking heads from Peterson's various front groups, Americans – particularly young Americans – are more likely than not to doubt Social Security will survive as long as they will.
This perception that the social safety net in this country is failing is helping turn America into a feudalistic state. Like in Dickens' 19th Century England, the wealthy elite increasingly control everything, and the working class is forced to live off of billionaire scraps.
Every day that the “Fix the Debt” and other Pete Peterson efforts succeed at destroying Americans' faith in our own government, We The People lose.
To learn more about Peterson and his campaign, and his millionaire CEO buddies, go to www.petersonPyramid.org. And spread the word. Our national wealth, our national retirement and social safety net programs, should not be handed off to Wall Street.