Pete Peterson and his merry band of thieves recently rolled out the hilariously titled “America Speaks” propaganda tour, which was designed to brainwash citizens into voting against their own interests by supporting Social Security privatization.
Peterson wants to do this because he owns Blackstone Group, which has a subsidiary called Blackrock Financial, the firm that would — surprise! — be in charge of handling your privatized Social Security dollars, and that rerouting process could earn Peterson hundreds of billions of dollars.
The tour should be called “Peterson and Company Speak,” because it is their financial interests — not the interests of the American people — that are represented in this tour. One of Peterson’s lackeys, David Walker, is also involved in the “national discussion.” Walker is the man who openly pined for the return of debtors’ prisons, which already exist in six states, but apparently aren’t harsh enough punishment for being poor in David’s world.
If this ridiculously transparent tour actually represented Americans’ concerns, the focus would be on job creation. Numerous polls indicate that Americans’ primary concern is unemployment – not the deficit.
According to a new Pew Research poll, 23 percent cited the federal budget deficit as their top concern. By contrast, a substantial 41 percent put jobs at the top of the list.
Oil Spill in Gulf: 13
Health Care: 5
Budget Deficit/Nat’l Debt: 5
Moral Values/Family Values: 2
Misc. Foreign Affairs: 2
Misc. Government Issues: 2
“Please tell me which one of these items you think should be the top priority for the federal government.” “Job creation and economic growth” won with 35%. “The deficit and government spending” got 20%.
“Economy and jobs” 47%, “deficit, spending” only 15%.
If this was the “America Speaks” tour, the central focus of the meet-ups would be job creation and stimulus spending. I highly recommend reading Dday’s review of the hapless meeting he attended to understand the span of the chasm between the “America Speaks” and “Peterson Speaks” parties. (emphasis mine)
The entire event was absolutely designed to create a panic about the deficit among the participants. Slickly produced scare videos talking about the dire straits of the budget were prevalent. Multiple charts and graphs without precise numbers or percentages were handed out. Speakers discussed how “most Americans are concerned about the deficits and debt,” and how we cannot grow our way out of the problem. The current state of the economy, which needs an increase in aggregate demand, mostly in the form of government spending, to avoid a relapse into recession, got a short mention at the beginning of the discussion, an inclusion which seemed forced and tacked-on. Overall, there was about 15 minutes of discussion of the current economic problems, and 5 hours on the deficit. Organizers stressed that their solutions are designed to kick in after the country hits recovery, but the compounded effect of stressing deficits over and over is undeniable. There was no slick video about the need for economic recovery, put it that way.
During the discussions about the long-term budget challenges, there was a greater tendency from the participants to place a greater burden for deficit reduction on those with the ability and capacity to do so. Among the anti-corporate sentiment, someone mentioned that Exxon paid $0 in federal taxes last year. During the scare film about the budget, a few people screamed “Wrong!” when it was suggested that defense makes up 20% of the total budget (that doesn’t include spending on wars). Lastly, people thought that the wealthy weren’t paying their fair share for the commons. Someone mentioned the carried interest loophole, allowing money managers to treat their income as capital gains instead of income, drastically lowering their tax rate. One of those money managers is Pete Peterson, the funder of America Speaks.
UPDATE: The propaganda may have wound up being too subtle. Via the America Speaks twitter feed, the top three options at the meetings selected by the participants were: raising the limit on taxable earnings in Social Security, a 5% tax increase on people making over $1 million dollars a year, a carbon tax, and a tax on financial transactions. Whoops!
Whoops, indeed. Peterson shelled out $1 billion to brainwash these people, and he couldn’t even get them to agree that old people are leeches who deserve to be condemned by society. How embarassing!
So it seems Americans are concerned with job creation, and judging by the America Speaks tour thus far, they also think rich people aren’t paying their fair share, carbon should be taxed, and the fat cats on Wall Street should be taxed for all their cleverly complex financial transactions that earned them oodles of cash whilst tanking the economy for everyone else.
You know what? This really IS turning into the America Speaks tour! I just don’t think this is what Petey and his pillagers had in mind.
Check to see if the America Speaks tour is coming to a city near you.