Media enablers of Pete Peterson’s war on social security and Medicare

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

I have been posting about the media  enablers of Pete Peterson's war on social security and Medicare since 2010. Pete Peterson's war on social security – and his media enablers:

In coming weeks you are going to see the name of Pete Peterson pop up frequently in news reports, but the reporting will not contain a disclaimer identifying whom he and the think tanks he funds are nor what his relationship is to the news organization. I warned you about this back in April, Republicans resurrect "welfare" charge for Tax Day: More GOP Tax Day Lies:

CNN even gave four hours of right-wing propaganda to Pete Peterson ("I.O.U.S.A. Solutions") who wants to repeal social security and Medicare. With More Deficit Hysteria Propaganda, CNN Becomes "Most Busted Name In News". The Washington Post recently partnered with Pete Peterson to write about the deficit, er, spread his propaganda. The Washington Post Lets Pete Peterson Write The News On The Deficit. The result of that unholy partnership is evident today. Washington Post Misinforms Readers About Deficit.

You need to maintain a wary eye for any reporting by the Washington Post or its stable of conservative syndicated columnists (David Broder, George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Michael Gerson, Richard Cohen, Robert Kagan, Robert Samuelson, Kathleen Parker, etc.) on the Obama Deficit Commission or the separate Peterson-Pew Commission (a partnership of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget). Bipartisan commission proposes strict budget rules to stabilize U.S. debt. (Post reporting and syndicated columnists fequently appear in The Arizona Republic and the Arizona Daily Star, so beware).

As I predicted, the Washington Post has never included a disclaimer disclosing its partnership with Pete Peterson, and by extension, neither have any of the newspapers that subscribe to the Washington Post news service, including The Arizona Republic and the Arizona Daily Star.

Do you think it is aqppropriate that a billionaire hedge fund owner who has dedicated his life to the destruction of social security and Medicare is permitted to insinuate his think tank policy positions into news reporting and commentary at the Washington Post without that influence being disclosed in a disclaimer? How exactly does this comply with so-called journalistic ethics and standards? Shouldn't the media establishment be policing propaganda in hard news reporting? Or is "Foxification" of the news now complete?

Keep this in mind with today's Washington Post editorial opinion — note the caption. Mr. Obama’s time to lead on entitlements (The president has to be bigger than his party):

YOU MIGHT EXPECT political winners to be more ready than losers to compromise. Magnanimity in victory, and all that. It often works the other way, though. Victors misread their triumph and overplay their hands.

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Democrats, meanwhile, are sounding more and more maximalist in resisting spending cuts. Many insist that Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and education — pretty much everything except the Pentagon — are untouchable. Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), who had been one of the more reasonable Democratic leaders, said Tuesday that, while he favors reform of entitlement programs, it shouldn’t be part of the negotiations on the fiscal cliff. The Post’s Greg Sargent reported that union leaders and other liberals came away from a White House meeting encouraged that administration officials agree.

“They expect taxes to go up on the wealthy and to protect Medicare and Medicaid benefits,” one attendee said. “They feel confident that they don’t have to compromise.”

Don’t have to compromise?

Elections do have consequences, and Mr. Obama ran on a clear platform of increasing taxes on the wealthy. But he was clear on something else, too: Deficit reduction must be “balanced,” including spending cuts as well as tax increases. Since 60 percent of the federal budget goes to entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, there’s no way to achieve balance without slowing the rate of increase of those programs.

This could be accomplished in a progressive manner, shielding the poorest beneficiaries from cuts. But that seems less likely to be achieved if progressives boycott serious negotiations by pretending that Social Security and Medicare are sustainable with no reform at all.

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Mr. Obama has fueled a campaign-style effort to pressure Republicans to give ground on taxes. That’s fine, but it won’t be enough. At some point, he has to prepare the American people — and his own supporters most of all — for the “hard decisions” required to put the country on a sound financial footing. That means spending cuts, it means entitlement reform, it means compromise, it means a balanced solution that will please neither House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) nor Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Only one person is in a position to make it happen.

This is the same "Third Way" capitulation crap that White House senior advisor David Plouffe was caught on tape saying. The only things under discussion right now are: (1) tax cuts and (2) sequestration spending cuts, which specifically exempted social security and Medicare. Obama wants to include the federal debt ceiling as well. The entitlements social insurance programs should NOT be made part of the "fiscal cliff" austerity crisis negotiations. Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin is correct on this. This is an attempt by conservatives who want to destroy social security and Medicare to snatch victory from the jaws of electoral defeat, aided and abetted by their accomplices in the media.

Paul Krugman addressed this media-hyped deficit hysteria as a basis for attacking the social insurance programs in his column this week. Fighting Fiscal Phantoms:

These are difficult times for the deficit scolds who have dominated policy discussion for almost three years. One could almost feel sorry for them, if it weren’t for their role in diverting attention from the ongoing problem of inadequate recovery, and thereby helping to perpetuate catastrophically high unemployment.

What has changed? For one thing, the crisis they predicted keeps not happening. Far from fleeing U.S. debt, investors have continued to pile in, driving interest rates to historical lows. Beyond that, suddenly the clear and present danger to the American economy isn’t that we’ll fail to reduce the deficit enough; it is, instead, that we’ll reduce the deficit too much. For that’s what the “fiscal cliff” — better described as the austerity bomb — is all about: the tax hikes and spending cuts scheduled to kick in at the end of this year are precisely not what we want to see happen in a still-depressed economy.

Given these realities, the deficit-scold movement has lost some of its clout. That movement, by the way, is a hydra-headed beast, comprising many organizations that turn out, on inspection, to be financed and run by more or less the same people; dig down into many of these groups’ back stories and you will, in particular, find Peter Peterson, the private-equity billionaire, playing a key role.

But the deficit scolds aren’t giving up. Now yet another organization, Fix the Debt [CEO Fiscal Leadership Council Membership (.pdf)], is campaigning for cuts to Social Security and Medicare, even while making lower tax rates a “core principle.” That last part makes no sense in terms of the group’s ostensible mission, but makes perfect sense if you look at the array of big corporations, from Goldman Sachs to the UnitedHealth Group, that are involved in the effort and would benefit from tax cuts. Hey, sacrifice is for the little people.

So should we take this latest push seriously? No — and not just because these people, aside from exhibiting a lot of hypocrisy, have been wrong about everything so far. The truth is that at a fundamental level the crisis story they’re trying to sell doesn’t make sense.

You’ve heard the story many times: Supposedly, any day now investors will lose faith in America’s ability to come to grips with its budget failures. When they do, there will be a run on Treasury bonds, interest rates will spike, and the U.S. economy will plunge back into recession.

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Still, haven’t crises like the one envisioned by deficit scolds happened in the past? Actually, no. As far as I can tell, every example supposedly illustrating the dangers of debt involves either a country that, like Greece today, lacked its own currency, or a country that, like Asian economies in the 1990s, had large debts in foreign currencies. Countries with large debts in their own currency, like France after World War I, have sometimes experienced big loss-of-confidence drops in the value of their currency — but nothing like the debt-induced recession we’re being told to fear.

So let’s step back for a minute, and consider what’s going on here. For years, deficit scolds have held Washington in thrall with warnings of an imminent debt crisis, even though investors, who continue to buy U.S. bonds, clearly believe that such a crisis won’t happen; economic analysis says that such a crisis can’t happen; and the historical record shows no examples bearing any resemblance to our current situation in which such a crisis actually did happen.

If you ask me, it’s time for Washington to stop worrying about this phantom menace — and to stop listening to the people who have been peddling this scare story in an attempt to get their way.

The American people have the right to full disclosure of the relationship between deficit hysteria groups like Pete Peterson's and others who want to destroy social security and Medicare and supposedly objective news organizations, like the Washington Post, that publish their propaganda as news.

UPDATE: The Washington Post has more on the corporate CEO 501(c)(4) "Fix The Debt." Fix the Debt organization draws wary attention.

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