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Journalists in the Service of the Peterson Corporate Agenda

At private “Fiscal Summits” convened by billionaire Peter G. Peterson, journalists reflexively advance as fact his rationale for cutting Social Security -- and taxes.

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Moderating a panel discussion on the “everyday impacts of rising debt and the benefits of fiscal reform,” featuring Alan Simpson; Jay S. Fishman, chairman and CEO of Travelers Companies; Michael Nutter, Mayor of Philadelphia; and Carmen Reinhart, fellow at the Peterson Institute of International Economics (2012):

To Alan Simpson:
“When you get pushback what do you do? And what are the two or three numbers, figures, arguments that seem to make people understand everyone is going to have to contribute to this?”

You and I already understand the necessity; can we explain so even the American people get it?

To Jay Fishman:
“How much time — and everybody’s been waiting for this — how much time are the bond markets going to give our federal government to address this?”

Stephanopoulos appears not to understand the oddity of having the federal government subservient to the wishes of “bond markets”; instead, the threat of market objection is used to hype the idea that debt is a ticking time bomb.

To Michael Nutter:
“Mayor Nutter, you talked about the importance of making sure that everyone took a cut, that you took cuts as well, but flip the question around. I would think one of the advantages when it works on the local level is that people can actually make the direct connection between the sacrifice they’re making, the tax they are paying, the cutback they have had to endure, and the benefit they are seeing.   What were the benefits that people saw sort of immediately or at least over a reasonable period of time?”

No challenge to Mayor Nutter as to the downside of everyone taking a cut. Alternative: Didn’t cuts in city government make Philadelphia residents worse off?
David Wessel
Interviewing Timothy Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury (2012):

“I think we are in the post-denial phase of talking about the deficit, both Democrats and Republicans — [Geithner interjects, “What follows denial, anger?”] — I hope so . I think Pete Peterson hopes someday you get to [a] solution, and you’ve got a few months left in this president’s term to get there. But I think that a lot of people are wondering why anybody should believe that our polarized political system is capable of doing something that touches as many people as this. Why should we believe that this can happen?

“When you talk about fiscal issues, the one question you hear often, particularly from audiences like this, is about Bowles-Simpson. Why didn’t the president embrace Bowles-Simpson and say, ‘I don’t like all of it,’ instead of what he did. Was that a mistake?

Wessel doesn’t ask “what was wrong with Bowles-Simpson” or “why did the President accept as much of it as he did?”
Wessel couldn’t be more explicit: thank goodness that the period of denial is over; perhaps enough anger will stimulate the necessary solution that Pete Peterson hopes someday will occur.

George Will

Interviewing Mitch Daniels, Governor of Indiana (2011):

“The role of public employees’ unions at the state level so far — and perhaps someday at the federal level — will become a big topic of argument over their role in causing and their possible role in helping to solve the fiscal problem at the state level. What’s been your experience in Indiana?”

“You can argue, Governor, that democracies only act on difficult problems under the lash of necessity, when they have no other choice. Hitler was warned about by Churchill, but they paid no attention until they got to the channel ports. In 1983, the Greenspan-Moynahan-Dole commission reformed Social Security because the checks were about two weeks from not being able to go out. What kind of lash of necessity will it take  — what catalyzing event might cause the American federal political system to act?”