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Social Security: The War Begins Tuesday, And You Better Say...Oh, No!

by: fake consultant

Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 22:00:02 PM EDT

It is my job to bring to you not just the news that took place, but the news that has yet to happen.

Today, that's exactly what we have.

There is a war coming to try to change Social Security from a social safety net to a "revenue stream" for certain corporate interests, and that war is set to begin Tuesday morning, according to information that was provided to me yesterday afternoon.

Follow along, and you'll be both forewarned and forearmed.

fake consultant :: Social Security: The War Begins Tuesday, And You Better Say...Oh, No!


--Actual "Burma Shave" Message, 1945, from "Verse By The Side of the Road", Frank Rowsome, Jr.

So here's the dish: a limited partnership corporation called The Blackstone Group, through years of trading in real estate, operating hedge funds, giving financial advice to other companies and governments, and buying and selling companies (Hilton Hotels is one of theirs, the company that makes Corexit, the oil dispersant, is another), made its co-founder and former Chairman Peter G. Peterson a more-than-billionaire; a billion of that went to endow a Foundation that bears his name.

The Foundation has a particular interest in things budgetary and governmental, and they are seen as one of the groups most looking to change the way Social Security works today.

(Change, you say? Indeed, and if you've been following this series of stories, you already have an idea of what that might entail.)

The next thing you need to know is that there is a Great Big Deal Presidential Commission currently at work who is charged with identifying...

"...policies to improve the fiscal situation in the medium term and to achieve fiscal sustainability over the long run. Specifically, the Commission shall propose recommendations designed to balance the budget, excluding interest payments on the debt, by 2015. This result is projected to stabilize the debt-to-GDP ratio at an acceptable level once the economy recovers. The magnitude and timing of the policy measures necessary to achieve this goal are subject to considerable uncertainty and will depend on the evolution of the economy. In addition, the Commission shall propose recommendations that meaningfully improve the long-run fiscal outlook, including changes to address the growth of entitlement spending and the gap between the projected revenues and expenditures of the Federal Government."

...and that the Commission is going to deliver a report with its suggestions December 1st.

It would be fair to say that there are those who are concerned that "the fix is in", so to speak, and that the report will be the beginning of an effort to privatize Social Security...and guess what?

Managing the Federal Government's Social Security money, for a handsome fee, would be a spectacular business opportunity for Pete Peterson and The Blackstone Group, and to help create the environment where that can happen, the Peterson Foundation is dropping $20 million on a TV ad campaign to try to convince you to get interested in privatizing Social Security, too.

This Tuesday morning, November 9th, Peterson will appear at Washington, DC's Newseum to unveil the advertising campaign, presumably to the delight of the assembled throng and the sipping of the coffee of the assembled media; this according to a Peterson Foundation press release that came across my desk yesterday.

There's even a catchy name for the reform program: "OweNo"...and if you've already written your own "Oh, No!" Social Security joke, you're apparently a bit faster on your feet than the guy who tried to sell Chevy Novas in Spanish-speaking countries...or the folks who came up with this catch phrase.

So that's the story: come Tuesday, Pete Peterson, with a presonal fortune that comes from a Big Fat Wall Street Firm That Would Love To Manage Your Money For Big Fat Fees, is dropping $20 million to tell you that it's time to "get a Chilean"...and I'm here to tell you that such a procedure is going to hurt your wallet, a lot-and when it's all over, you're the one who's going to be saying "Oh, No!"

FULL DISCLOSURE: This post was written with the support of the CAF State Blogger's Network Project.
who should manage your money?
goldman sachs
the us treasury
jp morgan chase
blackstone group


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"patriots... (3.00 / 3)
...gather your forces!"

With you 100% (3.00 / 2)
Outstanding work.  This is of paramount importance.  I'd write what I truly think of Pete Peterson and company, but it's probably not appropriate for this blog.

Peterson and his acolytes are disingenuous in the extreme.  Case in point:  The Robert Kuttner vs. David Walker debate.

CAF is one of the best progressive organizations around.  Their blog is indispensable. It's fitting that you're working with them.  

Some thoughts on the Simpson-Bowles commission vote. Am I off base?

Most of those who are ostensibly on our side will likely go along with an overall bad "package." Namely Spratt, Conrad, Baucus, Rivlin, Bowles, and Fudge.  (Fudge is the member I know the least about.)  In this theory, Bowles, Conrad, and Rivlin lead the way, with Bruce Reed helping to direct traffic.

The progressives contingent consists of Schakowsky and Becerra, and arguably Durbin and Stern.  I see Durbin and Stern as more or less swing votes -- and it seems likely they will vote together.  

So to block a bad "package" of recommendations, all four of the progressive side need to stay together and someone needs to bolt from the right... or a 2 progressives + 3 conservatives alliance needs to form.  (Assuming that Durbin and Stern act as White House proxies and move together.)

I've not nearly as optimistic about picking up conservative votes bolting from the right as I used to be. Yes, Paul Ryan and Jeb Hensarling hate tax increases of any kind, but they hate Social Security far more.  People in their financial base would applaud them for weakening the program -- even if doing so required giving the Dems on the commission a fig leaf.  Considering our side's well-deserves reputation for not being good negotiators, and it's not difficult to imagine bad recommendations getting through.

The entire premise of the Commission is ridiculous.  That's been clear from the start.  But what may be even more troubling is the illusion of ideological diversity.  The commission is made up of conservatives who really hate Social Security, Rubinite Dems, and a couple of progressives who have very close ties to the White House.  That's why, as improbable as it looked at first glance, I think the votes for something bad to be there.  
Something like...


Democrats: Baucus, Bowles, Conrad, Durbin, Fudge, Rivlin, Spratt, Stern

Republicans: Camp, Cote, Crapo, Gregg, Simpson + either Coburn, Ryan, or Hensarling


Democrats: Becerra, Schakowsky
Republicans: 2 conservatives

Coburn may not want a fourth term -- he was just elected to one that puts him past the time limit he had originally placed on himself --  and he really hates Social Security.  This would give Ryan and Hensarling the room to bolt and not face a backlash from the new House Tea Partiers. If push comes to shove though, there's reason to believe they'd both be interested in taking a little flack to cut Social Security.  

Thoughts on my count?  

Strengthen Social Security

so to me... (0.00 / 0)
...the trick here may be to get around legislators and direct outrage from the bottom up.

the good news on that is that we may be able to cleave republicans from themselves, as happened in '05 when this came up.

a comment that kept coming up in the call today was that you have to break the narrative that "you'll never see a dime of social security", and it seems to me that if we want to get back voting groups we better start right there, even as we make members of congress get on the record about all this.

that is likely the fastest way to keep democrats in line, and it makes even the hensarlings of the world seem a bit...lonely, compared to how they feel today.

[ Parent ]
What MC said (3.00 / 2)
Let's start making "Keep Your Rubinite Hands OFF MY SOCIAL SECURITY!" T Shirts

Or we could exemplify James k. Galbriath's apt statement on this deficit commission:

"The best place for the this deficit commission would be no place at all."

i'm promoting... (0.00 / 0)
..."cut my benefits? tax your income!" t-shirts...six words, and east yo understand.

fits on a bumper sticker, too.

[ Parent ]
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