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Pete G. Peterson Is Finally Dead!

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    I am not exactly crowing about the event but, the truth is, I never thought that the so-called "Peterson" would ever die.

    In reality, his name was Petros Giorgio Petrospoulos, the son of a Nebraska restaurateur who never, I believed, ever offered Greek cuisine to his Nebraska patrons.

    From the Wall Street Journal:

    Peter G. Peterson, the son of Greek immigrants who ran a diner in Kearney, Neb., grew up in a family so frugal that the parents and two sons took turns using the same water to bathe on Saturday nights. “It was never clear to me whether I was cleaner after the bath, or before,” he wrote in a memoir.

    His Depression boyhood taught him the “lesson of never, even in bad times, spending more than you earned.” Mr. Peterson, who became secretary of commerce in the Nixon administration and a billionaire as co-founder of the private-equity firm Blackstone Group, never forgot that lesson. He gave the bulk of his fortune to a foundation seeking to educate Americans about the dangers of deficit spending and unfunded government commitments for health care.

    wsj.com/articles/peter-peterson-blackst...

    Hah! In my family we managed at least a bucket of water apiece to bathe in, I know because I carried in the water. But, water was scarce on the plains of South Dakota and I knew the real Pete Peterson who was an old bachelor who came faithfully to our lake to fish for bullheads and, who always when they were in bloom, brought a bouquet of tiger lilies to my mother in tribute as goddess of the lake.

    The fake Pete Peterson managed to amass a fortune of almost $2 billion, and he used a goodly portion of that to take down Social Security, Medicare and Medicare in a foundation named "Fix the Debt". Here's a liberal take on Fix the Debt:

    These “Fix the Debt” CEOs are the same CEOs that crashed our economy, took their bonuses, and ran, leaving the rest of America to clean up their mess. Although their calls for bipartisan cooperation hit all the right notes to the American public, we believe that the push to get a lower corporate tax rate from a bipartisan solution is the ulterior motive of these CEOs. Peterson himself has contributed almost half a billion dollars to his foundation that pushes for the reform of programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid....

    Unmasking the most influential billionaire in U.S. politics is the intent of this Michael Hilzik article about the Peterson effort in the Los Angeles Times: “The most influential billionaire in America is Peter G. Peterson, whose misleading campaign to ‘reform’ traditional social welfare programs has subtly set the terms of the Washington debate.”

    Felix Salmon in Marketplace explains the big picture ulterior motives of the Fix the Debt CEOs: they are hoping a bipartisan approach to reducing the deficit could ultimately result in lower corporate taxes.“Fix the Debt,

    Destroy the Recovery” by Robert Kuttner of The American Prospect explains some of the politics here, noting that David Walker as head of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation has been deeply involved in the effort to levitate the late Bowles-Simpson Commission as a template for deficit-reduction, and has been working closely with the corporate-funded “Fix the Debt” campaign of more than 100 CEOs lobbying for an austerity grand bargain.

    ourfuture.org/report/what-you-need-to-k...

    The article goes on to say that all these "savvy" billionaires who signed on to show that they are the ones who created most of the debt with "trillions in federal war contracts, subsidies and bailouts, as well as specialized tax breaks and loopholes that virtually eliminate the companies’ tax bills. … As part of their push, they are advocating a “territorial tax system” that would exempt their companies’ foreign profits from taxation, netting them about $134 billion in tax savings … money that could help pay off the federal budget deficit.”

    And, they want to use my Social Security and Medicare to pay for their fiscal extravagance.

    I'm glad you're dead, old Petros Giorgio Petrospoulos, before you got your greedy hands on my Social Security and Medicare, you old scoundrel!

  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    There are lots of misconceptions about the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds. Rather than get into a discussion, I refer you to the Frequently Asked Questions in the Social Security website:

    Social Security Administration: Frequently Asked Questions

    I found these helpful when we have had discussions in this website in the past.

    Regarding Peter G. Peterson, I doubt that many people outside of yourself know of him, at least in this website. The "Fix the Debt" website appeals to people who believe that the federal budget needs to be balanced and that our debt is unsustainable. Actually, it has become a political tool by Republicans who do not mind running up debt when they are in office, and then scream bloody murder about deficit spending when Democrats are in office.

    I myself don't worry about the federal debt any more once Carlitos enlightened us on Modern Monetary Theory. Rather than just give you the "Mosler sell", I'll give you a link to a discussion of the theory from an outsider's perspective including a critique:

    Washington Post: Modern Monetary Theory is an unconventional take on economic strategy

    Carlitos can sell it (make it understood) better than me. It takes time to digest.

  • Independent
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    Oh, yeah, I had heard of Pete Peterson.

    Thom Hartmann has talked about Republicans running up debt when they are in power. It is Jude Wanninski’s “Two Santa Claus” theory.

    And it works because debate framing is something the Democratic Party has yet to master. They think that talking about issues at election time is what the electorate wants. This is obviously and completely false. Humans are irrational (see Michael Lewis’ “The Undoing Project”). They want emotional platitudes whether it is build the wall or ban the Muslims.