August 3, 2010

David Walker -- CEO and chief propagandist for the anti-Social Security outfit Peter G. Peterson Foundation -- gave a speech at the US Chamber of Commerce on Friday and said this about Social Security and Medicare.

Walker: There’s been a lot in the press recently about sovereign debt challenges and you know one of the things the United States is not very good at, although we’re good at a lot of things; we’re not very good at learning from history and comparing ourselves to others. Because we assume since we’re the only super power on earth, which is temporary, that we must meddle, meaning be top three, in virtually everything, but the truth is when you look at the hard cold facts we’re below average in a number of things.

And this is a fuller and fairer view of the relative debt to G.D.P. burden of the United States as compared to some of the other countries that you’ve heard on the T.V. and the radio and seen in the paper and on line recently. The truth is that when you want to compare debt to G.D.P. with the European countries, you have to look at Federal, state and local debt because in European countries most of the financing is done at the national level.

And therefore if you look at our total Federal, state and local, keyword, public debt and you add it up and you compare it to the G.D.P. of the United States you’ll see that according to the recent I.M.F. report, May 2010, the United States is already worse than Spain, U.K., Ireland, Portugal and we’re within ten years of being where Greece is.

But another footnote, this does not count the several trillion dollars that we owe Social Security and Medicare, that are not deemed to be a liability of the United States government. Even though the United States government tells you and I on our Social Security statements and in reports issued each year that those are assets and that you can count on them. And so on one hand they want to tell us we can count on them, and I believe we can because they’re backed by the full faith of the United States government, guaranteed principal and interest, but on the other hand they don’t want to call them a liability.

And if we did, which we should, then add thirty percent to G.D.P. to this number. We have to be more truthful with regard to where we are. We need to avoid creative accounting practices and we need to cease and desist on the self-dealing that goes on with regard to government activity, especially in the so-called trust funds, which you can’t trust and are not funded.

I'm still trying to square what Walker said here. On one hand he says that the Social Security fund is "backed by the full faith of the United States government" and in the next breath he says that Social Security is "not funded".

Which is it Mr. Walker? Does the fund have the backing of the Federal government or not? Is it okay that the fund was raided and do you think that promise to the American tax payers should be honored or not? Or do you think it's alright to tell Americans that the U.S. government made a promise to them that they're not willing to keep because we had other priorities like invading and occupying countries that were not a threat to us and giving tax cuts to the rich at the same time?

Dean Baker has more has more on the type of hackery we got from Walker here.

Attack Wall Street, Not Social Security:

Suppose our top generals described the growing threat from a hostile Middle East power. The country has tens of billions of oil dollars, a growing army, chemical and biological weapons, and is in the process of developing nuclear weapons. After carefully describing the risks posed by this country, our generals suggested an immediate attack on Canada. They explain that combating this Middle East country would be difficult, but defeating Canada is easy.

This is essentially the story of the latest attack on social security. Everyone who looks at the projections agrees; the scary budget stories being hyped in the media and by the Wall Street crew are driven almost entirely by projections of exploding health care costs. But instead of proposing ways to fix the health care system, these deficit hawks want to attack social security. They tell us that fixing health care is hard. By contrast they think that cutting money from social security will be relatively easy.

The facts on this are straightforward and known by everyone involved in the budget debate. The US health care system is broken. We pay more than twice as much per person as the average for other wealthy countries. [...]

Logic would dictate that our top priority should be getting our health care costs under control. But fixing health care is difficult because, as we saw in the health care debate, this means confronting the health insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the medical supply industry, highly paid medical specialists and other powerful lobbies.

The deficit hawks don't want to fight this fight. Defeating these powerful interest groups would be a hard fight. And for the deficit hawks it would likely be an especially painful fight since these are their friends.

By contrast, the Wall Street deficit hawks don't have friends who depend on social security for their income. Wall Street investment bankers like Peter Peterson and Robert Rubin are unlikely to associate with such people. This is why they see attacking social security as easy. Read on...

As Digby noted, David Walker and the Peterson Foundation have been out on a tour which she calls the Pete Peterson Austerity Pimp Revue where they're trying to convince all of us that we need to be more worried about our national debt than getting our economy back on track.

These people really are shameless. They'll do anything to keep low information voters thinking that we have a crisis on our hands and that all of us must suffer because we can't dare to ask the rich to pay their fair share in taxes. That and they want that Social Security fund handed over to Wall Street so badly they can taste it. They're hoping they can get it done under a Democratic administration.

I've got news for them. If they think privatizing Social Security is going to go over any better now than when Bush tried to do it, they're deluding themselves. The public will not stand for it. I know I sure as hell won't. If Walker thinks the public is going to sit idly by while they send our Social Security money over to the thieves on Wall Street and use the deficit as an excuse to do it, he's got another thing coming.

Lift the cap and let the rich pay their share.

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