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"You can buy a lot of air time" with one billion...Pete Peterson on his media group. [View All]

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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-21-10 09:06 PM
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"You can buy a lot of air time" with one billion...Pete Peterson on his media group.
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Peterson has formed his own media group, and he intends to use it to get his views across on "reforming" Social Security.

Here are some words of Peterson from 2008 in the NYT:

Spending a billion to restore fiscal sanity

Mr. Petersons foundation is planning an active Internet strategy, tapping bloggers and social networks to reach young voters, who typically pay little heed to far-off fiscal obligations. In early 2009, as the new president takes office, the foundation will try to draw attention with programming on public television, and possibly television advertisements and infomercials.

The effort resembles those of public policy advocacy groups, with a big exception: the money Mr. Peterson has put behind it. After decades in and around public life, he knows that is his only chance to make an impact.

You can buy a lot of airtime with $1 billion, Mr. Peterson said. People are going to hear from us.

Yes, you can buy a lot of airtime.

Many wonder why President Obama's new fiscal commission chaired by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles would be working so closely with and using so many resources provided by Peterson. Seems like money and power will be speaking.

Enormous unaccountable authority

Q. Why is the Commission apparently working so closely with billionaire Peter G. Peterson, who served in the Nixon administration and who has a clear ideological agenda?

Q. Mr. Peterson has been on a decades-long crusade against Social Security. The day after the first meeting of the commission, which focused heavily on the need to cut Social Security, the co-chairs and two other members of the commission participated in a Peterson event that reinforced the same message. A Peterson-funded foundation is supplying commission staff. And Petersons foundation is funding America Speaks to develop a series of high-profile town halls across the country to host a national discussion to find common ground on tough choices about our federal budget.

Here is more about Peterson's group.

From The Nation:

Looting Social Security

He's baaack--the Wall Street billionaire who wants to loot Social Security. This time, Pete Peterson has invented his own "news network" to promote his right-wing rants about shrinking the only retirement security system available to millions of working people. Peterson styles himself as a patriot saving the nation from fiscal insolvency and has committed $1 billion to that cause (a chunk of the wealth he accumulated at Blackstone Group, the notorious corporate-takeover firm). His efforts might be dismissed as ludicrous--except money does talk in Washington, and Peterson is now buying Washington reporters to spread his dire warnings.

The retired mogul has created a digital news agency he dubs "The Fiscal Times" and hired eight seasoned reporters to do the work there. "An impressive group of veteran journalists," Peterson calls them. I hope they have shaken a lot of money out of this rich geezer. Because I predict doing hack work for him will seriously soil their reputations for objectivity and independence.

With his great wealth, Peterson could have also bought a newspaper to publish his dispatches, but he did better than that. He hooked up with the Washington Post, which has agreed to "jointly produce content focusing on the budget and fiscal issues." (This media scandal was first uncovered by economist Dean Baker.) The newspaper is thus compromising its own integrity. It's like buying political propaganda from a Washington lobbyist, then printing it in the news columns as if it was just another news story. Shame on the Post, my old newspaper. I predict a big stink like the one that greeted the Post when its publisher decided to hold pay-for-access "salons" for corporate biggies.

Well, something interesting. It seems that Peterson's Fiscal Times is not too happy with Alan Simpson's recent comments to a blogger.

Here are part of Simpson's words, giving away their plan so to speak.

SIMPSON (regarding Social Security): It'll go broke in 2037.

LAWSON: What do you mean by 'broke'? Do you mean the surplus will go out and then it will only be able to pay 75% of its benefits?

SIMPSON: Just listen to me instead of babbling ...

Simpson then goes on to affirm Lawson's statement (without apology, of course.) But he resumes the fearmongering a minute later:

SIMPSON: ... There is not enough in the system by the month ... to pay out what comes in. In other words there is more going out than coming in. That happened 3 or 4 weeks ago.

And, a few minutes later:

LAWSON: ... Social Security is separate, though, from the general budget, right? It's totally in the green.

SIMPSON: But it wasn't. Just four weeks ago, there wasn't as much coming in as going out.

LAWSON: Except you're not calculating the interest paid on the bonds, because, if you do include that, it's still in the green this year.

SIMPSON: Well you can go through all the sophistry of babbling that you want to.

LAWSON: It's not sophistry. It's just what the SSA says. So I'm just going on the numbers.

Simpson had a couple of other outrageous comments:

SIMPSON: Whatever, whatever. You pick your crap and I'll pick the real stuff. It has to do with the highway system, it was to run America. And those are IOUs in there. And now there is not enough coming in every month ...

..."SIMPSON: Let me say things in a way so your fans will understand this, so you can go and be a hero. There is not enough in the system ... So, what do they do? They go to that trust fund and say, 'We need the IOUs out of it.' And they say, 'You can have them, but you have to pay for them' ...

Now here's what the Fiscal Times, Peterson's media website, has to say about Simpson.

Simpsons Comments Undermine Commission Efforts

Republican former Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming has served on a number of bipartisan commissions and has frequently spoken about the need to fix the federal government's long-term budget problems. That's why President Obama chose Simpson to be co-chairman of his deficit reduction commission.

But at 78, the irascible Simpson is also known for pithy and colorful language, which was on vivid display last week in a video interview with a representative of Social Security Works, a liberal group opposed to cuts in benefits. Simpson was also condescending and derisive--and wildly wrong about important parts of the Social Security system's past.

Most of all, he gave no hint that he understood that, for the commission's proposals to be adopted, advocacy groups will have to be persuaded that the package is necessary and fair--whether the groups' concerns are about entitlements, taxes or other issues. In short, what Simpson did was to undermine the already slim chances of politicians agreeing on a way to put the government on a sustainable long-term budget policy path.

Sounds like they don't want us to get all upset with them....that they have to "persuade" advocacy groups into seeing things their way.

It's hard to understand why these two, Simpson and Peterson, are so involved in a commission that will determine the fate of Social Security. I hear we can criticize policy and issues here, and in this case I most certainly do criticize.

Yes, Mr. Peterson is right. One billion can buy a heck of a lot of airtime. And we have few resources with which to fight back.

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