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Paul Krugman calls them “deficit scolds” — the wealthy Washingtonians and Wall Streeters behind the Fix the Debt campaign who are obsessed with cutting earned benefits programs and whipping up “fiscal cliff” hysteria, when in reality the prescription right now for a robust economic recovery calls for public stimulus spending to boost employment and grow the economy.
These one-percenters want to bring failed European austerity to American shores, even though, according the New Yorker, the United Kingdom recently officially admitted that its austerity policies have been a disaster — “Britain’s deficit remains stubbornly high, its people have been suffering through a double-dip recession, and many observers now expect the country to lose its ‘AAA’ credit rating.”
Americans are being inundated with advertising from Fix the Debt about the urgency of avoiding the “fiscal cliff,” or what Krugman calls the “austerity bomb.” They claim to be coming from a centrist, bipartisan point of view, but a closer examination of the billionaire benefactors behind Fix the Debt reveals them to have long had an agenda of lowering taxes for the rich and cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits for millions of hard-working middle class and poor Americans.
Ironically, the deficit scolds behind Fix the Debt have helped contribute to the deficit by advocating for cutting tax rates on the wealthy, such as capital gains, and creating the unemployment crisis through mass layoffs.
Here are some of the over-100 Fix the Debt hypocrites who claim to care about reducing the deficit, but have done more than their share to actually make the deficit worse (even though deficits don’t matter in an economic recovery and reducing the deficit too fast could cause a double-dip recession):
Peter G. Peterson
Former Nixon commerce secretary and Lehman Brothers Chair/CEO Peter G. Peterson has been raging against Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other social safety net programs for years through his Peter G. Peterson Foundation. He has contributed to the deficit by never addressing America’s bloated defense budget, but instead relentlessly attacking middle and working-class earned-benefit programs.
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Lloyd C. Blankfein
Lloyd C. Blankfein is Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, which was bailed out to the tune of $10 billion by the federal government. Blankfein was paid more than $16 million last year. He wants to raise the the retirement age of Social Security even though the Social Security Trust Fund has a $2.7 trillion surplus and is solvent for the next 21 years. By obsessing about Social Security instead of discussing the real deficit problem — loss of tax revenue through low capital gains and income rates for the wealthiest two percent — Blankfein is a big contributor to the national deficit.
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Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini is threatening to lay off employees or implement a hiring freeze unless the “fiscal cliff” is averted. He is another billionaire hungry for major cuts to earned-benefit programs, even though one of the major deficit drivers in the United States is the cost of health care. Bertolini predicts the end of the private health insurance industry due to Obamacare, while his company is at the same time reaping millions of new customers thanks to the law. By denying insurance to many Americans and stifling competition, Aetna has done its part over the years to make sure the United States spends the highest percentage of GDP on health care costs of any industrialized nation.
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Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget president Maya MacGuineas really doesn’t like Social Security. She is a propaganda expert, spreading the false message that Social Security is causing the federal deficit and advocating privatization. Her ultimate agenda is dismantling Social Security and the social safety net, aligning her with magical-thinking Ayn Randists like Paul Ryan. By ignoring the real deficit fixes –reducing the defense budget, reducing medical costs through universal health care, and raising taxes on the rich — MacGuineas is part of the deficit problem.
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