Home Budget, Economy The “Grand Bargain” Scam: Part I

The “Grand Bargain” Scam: Part I

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( – promoted by lowkell)

No stranger to promoting austerity for tens of millions of Americans, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, to which Peterson himself has contributed $458 million, depicts the federal budget as a crisis in desperate need of draconian reactions. But in survey after survey, Americans oppose cutting Medicare and Social Security. Even a recent national tour, titled “America Speaks” and supported largely by Peterson’s foundation, met with audiences that rejected its aims, including its claim that Americans favor raising the retirement age to 69-a claim falsely reported by “America Speaks” to the Bowles-Simpson “deficit commission.”

Peterson, formerly a hedge fund mogul, gives millions to promote austerity in the social safety net, so that millionaires and especially billionaires like him can pay taxes disproportionately low compared to their wealth. He and fellow plutocrats are pushing for a “grand bargain” in the up-coming lame-duck session of Congress in order to slash Medicare and Social Security in exchange for small increases in federal revenues. The latest iteration of the Campaign to Fix the Debt, to which Peterson is a major donor, is chaired by former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, a corporatist Democrat, and former New Hampshire Republican senator Judd Gregg, another corporatist.

Unfortunately, Peterson and the Campaign’s zeal for other people’s austerity has helped convert many economic “elites,” as well as would-be TV journalists, from fair and responsible budgetary views to sticking the middle-class with the deficit bill by slashing their earned benefits (Social Security and Medicare), ending such middle-class tax breaks as the mortgage deduction, lowering taxes on corporations, and minimizing any tax increase on the wealthy. Proponents of Fix the Debt would re-enforce Bush II’s GOP strategy of minimal taxation, especially on the wealthy, in order to drive up deficits and thereby justify future cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and the social safety net overall.

Funded by Peterson, several corporate CEOs, and other wealthy donors, the Campaign to Fix the Debt seeks to sway media coverage and buy numerous ads to push its austerity-for-others agenda. Perhaps the most public spokespersons of the Campaign are ex-politicians Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson. Infamous for calling the USA a “milk cow with 310 million tits,” Simpson has demanded that current politicians stop emphasizing the pain that would result from cutting the safety net: “Would you quit talking about the poor, the vulnerable, the veterans, the old ladies going over the cliff, the hospices, the bedpans? I mean, what the hell? We all know…that’s the people you want to take care of.”

But how would these people be helped by not talking about them, by ignoring them? More importantly, why did Simpson, as spokesperson for the Campaign to Fix the Debt, use the second person plural “you” rather than the first person plural “we”? Does his pronoun selection imply more shifting of responsibility to others-a shifting analogous to what the nation’s “elites” want to achieve concerning the middle-class and the federal debt, which has surged largely as a result of the tax cuts provided for and the recession caused by many of those very same “elites”?

[This diary is cross-posted by me on BlueNC.]