Posts Tagged 'Peter Peterson'

Protest Pete Peterson Social Security Wrecking Crew in San Francisco

Pete Peterson Vulture

Pete Peterson’s Social Security and Medicare Wrecking Crew
is coming to San Francisco Thursday, Sept. 23 at 5 PM.
Let’s Give Them the Welcome They Deserve!

Thursday, September 23, 5 PM
595 Market St. (at 2nd St., Montgomery BART, see map)
More information: call CARA at 510-663-4086, or M. Lyon at 415-215-7575

Please join us for a rally outside the Commonwealth Club at 5 PM.  Bring signs and banners.  Those able to purchase a ticket to the presentation and go inside, please do so. The reception is at 5:30 PM, the program starts at 6 PM.

The Peter G. Peterson Foundation and the Concord Coalition, right-wing think tanks that have railed against Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid for years, are beginning a national “Fiscal Solutions Tour” to push their story.  “After our financial and policy wizards have whisked away the temporary problems of unemployment, deflation, and war, there will be new, deep fiscal problems that will threaten America’s economy and even its national security. To solve these problems, seniors, people with disabilities, and the poor must give up Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.”  Lies! These are the country’s most successful, popular, and life-sustaining social programs. We’ve already paid into them.  They are not failing. We will not give them up!

Peterson tried to stampede us into demanding these cuts last June, with “America Speaks,”  nineteen razzle-dazzle Town Hall meetings held simultaneously across the country, and inter-connected by closed-circuit TV.  It completely backfired. Though participants were given slanted background materials and slanted choices, they rejected cuts to social programs, endorsed higher taxes on the rich, demanded single-payer healthcare, and demanded huge military cuts.

Peterson’s “Fiscal Solutions Tour” is another try at pushing the same message under more controlled surroundings.  Let’s give him the same message: Hands Off Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid!

Speakers: Robert Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition; David M. Walker, president and CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation; Isabel Sawhill, senior fellow in economic studies, Brookings Institution; Michael Boskin, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and Stanford economics professor; and Tom Campbell, former congressman (moderator).

Admission: $12 for Club members, $20 for nonmembers and $7 for students. For tickets, go to commonwealthclub.org or call (415) 597-6705.

See the Sept 17 SF Chronicle piece promoting this event.

Please forward this message.

shortlink to this posting:  http://wp.me/p3xLR-pD

Celebrate and Defend Social Security on its 75th Birthday (August 14, San Francisco)

Celebrate and Defend Social Security on its 75th Birthday
Saturday, August 14th, from 11 AM to 1 PM
At the New Federal Building, 7th and Mission Streets, San Francisco.

Join the California Alliance for Retired Americans (CARA) and the San Francisco Central Labor Council to celebrate and defend America’s most successful social program.  Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are under severe attack by business groups, deficit hawks, and the Obama administration. Social Security, the longest established and most financially secure of these programs, is under particular attack, with media promoting lies such as Social Security being the verge of collapse, draining the national treasury, and providing bloated benefits to undeserving seniors.

The facts of Social Security are:  (1) Its benefits have already been entirely paid by workers’ payroll taxes. (2) It has a $2.5 billion surplus.  (3) If nothing were done, it could pay full benefits until 2037, and 75% benefits afterward.  (4) If higher incomes were subjected to payroll taxes, it could pay full benefits indefinitely.   (5) The majority of seniors, disabled people, and surviving spouses are dependent on Social Security, particularly minorities and women.

Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are under immediate threat because (1) the President’s Fiscal Commission on the Deficit, heavily stacked against these programs, is due to make its recommendations to Congress the first week in December 2010, and (2) Congress has promised to prioritize an up-or-down vote the Commission’s recommendations without amendment. So Social Security celebrates its 75th birthday under fire.

This event is (1) to give the truth about Social Security, the most successful social program in the US for seniors, people with disabilities, kids, and low-income families, (2) to warn these communities of the dangers that Social Security faces, and (3) to mobilize these communities to pressure Obama’s Deficit Commission and Congress to not privatize Social Security, reduce its benefits, or raise its retirement age.

Representatives of Bay Area US Congresspersons and US Senators are invited to hear our message, and respond. Similar events are planned for Fresno, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

Contact Michael Lyon,  mlyon01@comcast.net

shortlink to this post:  http://wp.me/p3xLR-p8

America Speaks: Pushback in Palo Alto, CA

It was truly amazing how America Speaks worked to force us into giving us the answers they wanted: cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  They presented us with a 25-page doomsday 2025 budget scenario, where Obama’s defense budget and Bush’s tax cuts to the rich had been continued indefinitely. Even after our policy wizards ended mass unemployment and  the Iraq-Afghanistan war,  they said,  rapidly-growing health costs and senior population would drag the nation down to a second-rate power status unless we came up with $1.2 trillion in cuts or revenue increases.   Then they whooped us up, to get us dancing in front of the cameras waving over-sized dollar bills,  while the giant screen flashed to other Town Halls in city after city, where people were also dancing with dollar bills, all of us in a simultaneous paroxysm of debt-smashing enthusiasm.  Then they smothered us in smarmy togetherness, and inclusiveness, and earnestness, about making “our” nation a better place for our children and grandchildren.  It was like all of us were extras in Jim Carrey’s “The Truman Show.”

Given all this, I was amazed at how much pushback there was. Our group started out talking about how loaded the war budget and tax break assumptions were that led to the $1.2 trillion figure. Most people felt and said it was kind of outrageous to have a eight minute perfunctory conversations about 30 million unemployed or under-employed with no solution being proposed, and then have us dust off our hands and imagine in 2025 we’d gained full employment and put the wars behind us. The person next to me said this was about class war.

When the discussion of health care cuts came up, people were so disgusted with having to choose 5%, 10% or 15% cuts without being able to specify how the cuts would be made, that they refused to make any cuts at all. Even the table moderator had to admit it was a stupid way to do it. At least half the people said they’d be glad to cut health expenses if we had single payer or negotiated drug prices.

When the subject of military spending came up, there a big discussion about whether the military and the wars were making us safer, whose interest the wars were being fought in, and whether the cuts would hurt ordinary soldiers. We ended up agreeing on the highest possible cut (15%) with some wanting much higher.

In the revenue portion, everyone was emphatic that rich people should be hit heavily, and the arguments that this might discourage saving, or investment, or it might slow the growth of jobs got no traction. Everybody agreed on raising the cap on payroll taxes to the original 90% of earned income, and some said the cap should be eliminated, though this was not an option, of course. There was some debate over whether to raise the rate of payroll tax.

What amazed me was that much of the same feelings seemed to be expressed nationally. They had to admit on the national simulcast that there was a huge sentiment for single payer, and that people didn’t like the options of cutting categories of services like healthcare without saying how it was done. It made a complete mockery of their blather about our “empowerment,” and “taking control.” I felt like when they brought out Commission member Alice Rivlin, she didn’t know how to respond to the pushback, and just blathered herself.

About 2/3 of the way through, we had reached about $800 billion, and it was getting difficult because people didn’t want to make additional cuts, but the table moderator kept saying we needed to make our target of $1.2 trillion. By this time, we had all gotten comfortable with each other and beginning to feel bonded, so I ventured to say that we were like a jury faced with a judge’s instruction we didn’t feel was fair because it was based on continued war spending and tax cuts to the rich. But juries do disobey judges, and we had the option of disobeying our instructions, too. This made some impression on people, but there was a strong impulse to meet our goal, and more cuts were made up to $1 trillion.

When we were asked what we would commit to do to continue working on these issues, I said I was in the  California Alliance for Retired Americans and the SF Gray Panthers and we had already had a town hall to defend Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Another person said she was from Democracy for America and would continue to work to stop the war. Another said he was from the Coffee Party, and I think he said he said he wanted to work against economic inequality.

Our table did vote to raise the Social Security retirement age, which I was really disappointed about. I talked about my 35 year old son who’s done landscape work and shines shoes, and whose shoulders and back are already beginning to fall apart. He’s got a kid, and he’ll never earn enough to go to school for a career change, and he’s unlikely to get a job with a pension, and I don’t see how he’ll last to 65, let alone 69. It didn’t make a difference; they still voted for the age increase. I think off all the issues in the afternoon, this was the question that demanded the most identification with workers.

I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to talk afterward very much, but in the little talking I did with other California Alliance for Retired Americans and Move-On people, it seemed like they had the same kind of experience at their tables, and as I said, the pushback seemed to be reflected even in the simulcast. Of course, the America Speaks organizers are going to massage their message to the Obama Commission next Wednesday; they actually started doing it during the Town Hall, forming phrases like “legislators, do your duty,” “make the hard decisions,” “remember the people are powerful,” all of which which encourage the Commission to carry out the Peterson agenda. Still, I think our resistance to being stampeded was a well-deserved slap in the face to Peterson (and Obama.)  Now begins the work of talking to as many people as possible about the threats of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and to plan actions for when the Obama Commission submits its recommendations to Congress in early December.

Here’s a link to a Huffington Post article, “In Deficit “Town Meetings,” People Reject America Speaks Stacked Deck”

Or Suburban Guerrilla’s “America Speaks, Will the Politicians Listen?”

A video clip form Bucks County PA

short link to this page:  http://wp.me/p3xLR-oo

“Commission” is Washington Speak for Cutting Social Security and Medicare

The “experts” who could not see the $8 trillion housing bubble that wrecked the economy are now telling us that we have to create a special commission so that they can cut Social Security and Medicare. With much of Washington’s punditry behind this effort, they could succeed.

The basic story is straightforward. There is a determined clique, led by Wall Street investment banker Peter Peterson, that has been trying to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits for at least the last two decades. Peterson, a cabinet member in the Nixon administration, is especially important in this story because he has personally bankrolled much of the effort.

Peterson started the Concord Coalition for this purpose back in the early ’90s. He has written numerous books calling for cuts in these programs. He uses his vast Wall Street fortune to publicize these books, thereby ensuring that they are reviewed in major media outlets and reach a wide audience. More recently, he has pledged a billion dollars to support a foundation that is devoting considerable resources to bring about cuts in Social Security and Medicare.

Peterson and his crew have been peddling a story of fiscal calamity to advance their agenda. They try to scare young people with tales of enormous deficits driven by Social Security and Medicare.

The grain of truth in the Peterson story is that Medicare is projected to pose an enormous burden on the country in future decades. However, this is due to the fact that costs in the US health care system are projected to continue to spiral out of control. The Medicare horror stories assume that per capita health care costs in the United States increase from twice the levels in other wealthy countries to four or five times the levels in other wealthy countries.

If health care costs spiral out of control as these projections assume, then the economy will be devastated regardless of what we do with Medicare. There will be many more General Motors and Chryslers as companies that pay for their workers’ health care insurance will find themselves unable to compete. Tens of millions of workers will find themselves uncovered and unable to afford health care themselves.

In this context, serious people would focus on fixing the country’s health care system, but the Peterson crew focuses on cutting Medicare. One obvious way to both cut Medicare costs and start to get US health care costs under control would be to allow beneficiaries to buy into more efficient foreign health care systems, but the Peterson crew doesn’t seem interested in proposals that don’t cut benefits for working people.

It is especially outrageous that the Peterson crew would be leading this crusade to cut Social Security and Medicare. In part, because they were running around yelling about deficits projected for 2050, those of us who were trying to warn about the $8 trillion housing bubble could not get attention. The Peterson’s crew imaginary horror story helped to conceal the real disaster that was about to blow up the economy. Now this gang has the nerve to use the deficits created in part by their own incompetence as a reason to push their agenda for cutting Social Security and Medicare.

Peterson’s efforts in this area are especially offensive because he personally has profited enormously from the “fund managers’ tax break,” a loophole in the tax code that allowed Peterson to be taxed at a lower rate than most schoolteachers and firefighters. Peterson not only personally profited from this tax break, he has lobbied Congress to ensure that it remains in the code for future Wall Street tycoons. No doubt much of the money he is using to cut retirees’ Social Security and Medicare is attributable to this loophole.

Comment

I hate to say it, but I think this article almost minimizes the problem. Peterson is considered a right-winger in the spectrum of the ruling class, but the whole spectrum of the ruling class is dead-set on crippling Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, and commissions are frequently proposed as a way of doing this.

Commissions are typically proposed as bodies with an equal number of Democrats and Republicans (so neither party has to accept the blame for the cuts), and include the heads and ranking members of House and Senate Committees dealing with revenues and taxation. Their recommendations are fast-tracked through Congress and frequently must be voted up or down in their entirety, no amendments allowed. You can see they’re very dictatorial.

Part of the reason they’re set up to be so powerful is that they have to overturn a basic tenet of law: that funding for Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid must automatically increase as the number of recipients increases. (This is what “entitlement program” means.) For us, who work for a living, increasing funding for these programs as the number of recipients increases seems natural, but for the ruling class that wants the money for world competitiveness and war, it’s fiscal irresponsibility.

If you want to see a Commission in legislation, look at the Senate Health Bill. As currently written, there’s a Commission to force down Medicare spending. Almost half the Senate Health bill’s cost is expected to be gotten from reducing expected Medicare costs over the next ten years. And Obama has said one of the four obligatory cornerstones for him is a Medicare Commission.

For more on how Obama, and both Democrats and Republicans are determined to destructively restructure Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid, see https://mlyon01.wordpress.com/2009/11/15/how-the-democrats-might-privatize-and-cut-social-security/

Michael Lyon
mlyon01@comcast.net


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