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Meet the Billionaires Using Their Immense Wealth to Make Life Miserable for Ordinary Americans

5 examples of billionaires pushing a right-wing economic agenda.

Here is how it works these days: You start hearing about a big, national problem and then it becomes a drumbeat. First there are a few articles and columns mentioning that such-and-such is a problem. Then a number of articles appear, then a “study” from a “think tank” confirms the problem and sounds the alarm about how terrible it is, and then just as the issue seems to be the only thing you are hearing about a solution is presented. Of course, the solution always involves taking something away from you and giving it to some company or industry standing in front of a billionaire or three. The right question to start asking when you hear about these “problems” is which billionaire is driving this.

Here are five-plus examples of billionaires who use their money to try to get us to think what they want us to think in order to enact a right-wing economic agenda. 

1) Pete Peterson’s deficit/debt scare campaign and his ongoing effort to gut Social Security and other entitlements. Leading every list of billionaires pushing an issue is billionaire Pete Peterson and his forever war on government doing things to make our lives better, especially Social Security. Peterson leads the list because of reports of his pledge to spend $1 billion on his pet issue.

Have you ever heard anywhere that the budget deficit and national debt are a problem? You can’t pick up a newspaper or magazine, turn on the radio or TV, or listen to any politician from the so-called “center” to the far right without hearing that, and the reason is Pete Peterson and his money.

Peterson and his money are a big part of the backing for the Concord Coalition, Fix the Debt, The Can Kicks Back, the Comeback America Initiative, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the Moment of Truth Project, the Committee for Economic Development, America Speaks plus contributions to many other groups. As Michael Hiltzik worded it in Unmasking the most influential billionaire in U.S. politics at the LA Times, “The shame of Washington… comes from the fact that almost every organization promoting the grand fiscal bargain in which those programs will be on the table has accepted, somewhere and somehow, money from Pete Peterson.”

Sourcewatch’s Fix the Debt portal contains much more information on this big-money influence campaign, including this graphic:

Last week one of Peterson’s deficit-scare groups was in the news. The Can Kicks Back is an organization named after the narrative that not cutting Social Security is just kicking the debt can down the road. They claim this is because there is a generational war where older people are living high on the hog and younger people will have to pay for this. The group tries to make legislators think younger people want them to cut Social Security, etc. using astroturf videos, Twitter posts, etc.

Well, the Peterson spigot seems to have dried up. The anti-debt group is... wait for it… in debt. All of that astroturf hype about younger people demanding Social Security cuts? When the Peterson money ran out, the urgency went away.

Here’s the thing about this massively funded deficit-debt scare the country has been put through. Getting people whipped up about budget shortfalls (when raising taxes on the rich or cutting the bloated military budget are off the table) necessarily leads to certain conclusions that benefit a wealthy few. It leads people to believe that our government should cut back on the things it does to make our lives better—also called “government spending.”

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