Beware of those who try to scare us about the deficit. David Dayen exposes the agenda behind those who are pushing the deficit and debt as a huge problem and then use it to urge cuts in Social Security benefits. The people whom Social Security benefits the most are the less well-off, and cutting their benefits without raising the cap on contributions is just another way for the wealthy a way to achieve their goal of making life easier for themselves and harder for those who are not well-to-do. Both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton propose to maintain (and perhaps even increase) benefits and pay for it by raising the cap on contributions.
The committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, an organization that is virtually unknown outside of Washington, was nonetheless cited in four different questions during this year’s presidential and vice-presidential debates.
Moderators Elaine Quijano and Chris Wallace, seemingly unable to string together an intelligent thought about domestic policy on their own, outsourced their questions to a cabal of self-styled serious grown-ups who believe that advocating for cutting Social Security and Medicare makes them look like paragons of virtue.
But members of Washington’s media elite are virtually the only people left in America still buying the well-funded nonsense CRFB and its Wall Street backers have been selling for decades. Every time their ideas get exposed to the public, they are rejected wholesale. While the D.C. cocktail-party circuit sees deficit scare tactics as steely-eyed wisdom, the national constituency for such monomania could fit in a mid-sized sedan.
The CRFB is part of a circus of vanity projects run by former Nixon cabinet official and private equity billionaire Pete Peterson, who has been demanding cuts to programs he’s too rich to rely upon since the early 1980s.
The scaremongering about the debt masks an ideological agenda to stop any federal programs that commit the mortal sin of helping people, because the country sits on the precipice of becoming a Weimar Germany hyperinflation failed state. If rolling back those programs means preventing tax increases on rich people like Pete Peterson and his progeny, all the better.
Back on planet Earth, inflation hasn’t hit the Federal Reserve’s skinny 2 percent target in four years, and the real scandal is that America is blowing a huge opportunity to borrow at historically low interest rates and fulfill public needs. Experts across the political spectrum agree that the deficit is not a problem right now.
But, like a Halloween shop trying to come up with variations on the “sexy cat” costume, Peterson continues to dress up his efforts with different names and formats, seeking to energize a massive grassroots push for impoverishing the elderly.
Whenever you hear the phrase ‘grand bargain’ in the context of earned benefits (the more accurate term that I prefer to the establishment phrase of ‘entitlements’), you should be on your guard.