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

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Our sad small town newspaper, the Arizona Daily Star today republished an editorial opinion from the Neocon Washington Post, which has a partnership agreement with the Pete Peterson Group, a billionaire hedge fund manager who has dedicated his life to the destruction of social security and Medicare. Pundits who say debt's no problem have it all wrong.

As I have posted before:

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 manager
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?

Apparently the editors of the Arizona Daily Star think it is appropriate to publish Pete Peterson propaganda and to misinform its readers without an appropriate disclaimer.

Of course, the "pundits" the Washington Post is pooh-poohing include noted economists like Joseph Stiglitz and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. The Post's own Greg Sargent explains the "Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop" in a post today that leads to the misleading information in the Post editorial. Joe Scarborough and the Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop:

Joe Scarborough and Paul Krugman are having a very interesting argument
that offers a useful peek into Beltway deficit mania. It’s a reminder
that even as the deficit as a share of GDP has begun to come down . . . the Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop is alive and well.

To summarize, Krugman went on Morning Joe the other day and
reiterated his view that the deficit is mostly a function of the bad
economy, and that it isn’t the long term menace to American civilization
that the deficit hysterics — who are really motivated by a desire to
shrink government
— would have you believe. Scarborough responded with this:

"Paul Krugman v. The World"

Not hardly. Serious economists who are not on the payroll of conservative austerity economics think tanks funded by billionaires like Pete Peterson agree on basic Economics 101 theory.

Of course, Krugman isn’t really isolated in this view. Joe Weisenthal responded this morning to Scarborough with a list of 10 prominent economists and public officials who largely agree
with Krugman that deficit hysteria is misguided and overblown.
As
Weisenthal puts it: “there are plenty of economists and
economically-literate minds who think that, to varying degrees, the
deficit is not what we should be worrying about.”

That’s true, but it’s worth reflecting on why Scarborough believes Krugman’s views are so marginal and isolated. It gets back to what I’ve called
the “Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop.” The relentless bipartisan focus on
the deficit convinces voters to be worried about it, which in turn
leads lawmakers to spend still more time talking about it and less time
talking about the economy, a phenomenon that is self-reinforcing.

This
is exacerbated by some commentators and news orgs, who continue to treat
the deficit scolds with a great deal of deference, while marginalizing
the opinion that we should prioritize boosting the economy and job
creation as a means of getting the country’s fiscal problems under
control over time without savage spending cuts that will hurt a lot of
people
. Back in 2011 one study actually confirmed
that newspapers were spending far more time talking about the deficit
than the economy — at a time when the recovery was in serious peril.

The Morning Joe crew’s reaction to Krugman perfectly captures this phenomenon. They treated him as a pariah.

* * *

Of course, these folks only reacted to Krugman this way because they
were apparently unaware of all the prominent voices who agree with him,
thanks to the aforementioned Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop.

Yet the GOP position on the deficit — that it is such an urgent problem
that we should dramatically downsize government right away to get it
under control — is the one that should be seen as marginal, at odds with
the consensus among many mainstream economists, and even out of touch
with reality
. Republicans are now claiming they will wipe out the
deficit in 10 years with no new revenues, which would require extraordinarily deep and savage cuts to government. It’s a fundamentally unserious position. Indeed, this position is fundamentally unserious about deficit reduction.
The very same Republicans telling us the deficit is an urgent problem
that must be solved through spending cuts alone won’t even specify which
specific spending cuts would achieve the levels of deficit reduction
they themselves say we need. This deserves far more sneering disdain
than Krugman’s argument does.

Raw Story has more on Krugman's exchange with the Beltway media villagers and deficit scolds on Morning Joe. Krugman schools ‘Morning Joe’ on austerity: ‘How many times’ do I have to be right?:

Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman on Monday attempted to give the panelists on MSNBC’s Morning Joe a lesson about why austerity and drastic spending cuts were the wrong solution in tough economic times.

“Our track record is actually not bad, we’ve tended to reduce our debt at least relative to GDP when the economy was strong,” Krugman told host Joe Scarborough. “We tend to increase when the economy is week, but that’s what you should do. So this is not a hard call. I mean, as long as we have four million people who have been unemployed for more than a year, this is not a time to be worrying about reducing the budget deficit. Give me something that looks more like a normal employment situation and I’ll become a deficit hawk, but not now.”

“I think we can begin to address our entitlement problems without putting on the brakes, without austerity,” [Neocon think tank] Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass asserted. “If we don’t, what worries me about what people like Paul Krugman and others are recommending is we leave ourselves incredibly vulnerable to higher interest rates, to future Hurricane Sandys, to future wars, to bond markets, that we put ourselves in an incredibly vulnerable position.”

“Washington
doesn’t work that way,” Krugman pointed out. “If you spend a lot of
your time talking about the debt and the entitlements are the big
problem, the message that actually what we need to is promote jobs gets
lost.
And in fact, we spent the last two and a half years focused
entirely on arguing about the long-term deficit and entitlements and
doing nothing for employment right now. That balance has got to shift.”

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D), who co-chairs the corporate-sponsored
Fix the Debt campaign
[another Pete Peterson funded organization – Who's Behind “Fix the Debt”?], insisted that Krugman’s argument “makes no
sense” because the Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction plan “said we can do
both,” cut the debt and spur the economy.

“So
two guys can write a report that calls for all kinds of good stuff and
they can’t even get their own commission to agree on the report,”
Krugman laughed. “And you’re saying this should be our policy? We need
to focus on what is urgent right now, which is creating jobs and getting
this economy back to full employment
.”

“But the way you do that is to build a political coalition to do something about the long-term debt,” Rendell declared.

“Have you been living in the same country as I have these past five years?” Krugman quipped.

“My message is, we’ve got a coming collapse if we don’t take care of our entitlements,” Scarborough remarked.

“It’s a long way off, it’s not necessarily even true,” Krugman replied. “All you’re saying is that we should lock in now the health care changes that we think we would have had to make within 15 years.”

“Not just lock in changes,” Haass interrupted. “We’ve got to make real cuts over the next decade.”

“No we don’t,” Krugman shot back.

“Yes, we do,” Haass said. “We have got to find another $2 trillion [because your argument is] based upon rosy assumptions you’re right. But what if those assumptions are wrong? You’re basically willing take enormous risks with the American economy.”

“People like me have been saying for five years, don’t worry about these deficit things for the time being, they’re a non-issue,” Krugman observed. “Other people have been saying, ‘Imminent crisis, imminent crisis!’ How many times do they have to be wrong and do people like me have to be right before people start to believe this?”

“You’re right until the day you’re wrong, and that’s a bad day,” Haass grumbled.

Oooohh, witty comeback when confronted with the truth. Loser.

You really should ask yourself why it is that only the people in Washington, D.C. — and the feckless mainstream media — who so badly want to destroy social security and Medicare, when the American people universally love these programs — and to a large degree rely on these programs for survival. POLL: Clear Majority Want No Medicare, Social Security Or Education Cuts:

Americans want to cut the deficit, but they don’t want to cut
Medicare, Social Security or education to do it, according to the new
Kaiser Family Foundation/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Harvard School
of Public Health survey

58 percent want no cuts to Medicare or Social Security and 61 percent
want to completely preserve current public education spending.

So what do Americans want to cut?

71 percent of want at least some cuts to defense. Clear majorities
also say they are for some cuts to health insurance subsidies,
unemployment insurance, food stamps, aid to farmers, federal salaries,
foreign aid and the war in Afghanistan.

PollChart1

Medicare remains extremely popular — 60 percent say the program is
working well. Eight out of 10 seniors aged 65 and older feel the program
is working
. That popularity is behind the desire to improve the
program, as even 76 percent of Republicans say the deficit can be cut
without cutting Medicare
.

Despite this, some Medicare reforms are popular, including
negotiating better rates from prescription drug suppliers and requiring
high-income seniors to pay higher premiums.

PollChart2

A slight majority, 51 percent, oppose raising the Medicare eligibility
age
. Ironically, 64 percent of those already on Medicare approve of
raising the eligibility age, though 59 percent reject lowering payments
to providers.

A majority also support expanding Medicaid to cover up to 17 million
uninsured Americans who currently earn too much to receive it, but only
earn 133 percent of the federal poverty level or below.

We are having the wrong conversation in Washington because of GOPropaganda.

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