Peter G. Peterson Turned Entitlement Into a Bad Word

This article was published to my personal Talkmarkets blog and is my opinion only, but I think you will find it interesting:

Peter G. Peterson recently passed away at the age of 91. He was lauded for his philanthropy, for his willingness to bring right and left into the foundation containing his name, that he generously funded, and for his thoughtfulness. But the truth is, Pete Peterson forever split and damaged America by making entitlement a bad word.

Pete Peterson is everything that Americans should fear from those who attended the University of Chicago, where he received his MBA. From Leo Strauss onward to Paul Wolfowitz, the university has produced some real villains. Peterson fits the mold, but was cunning in his ability to look centrist. As Leo Strauss, father of the neocons, who taught at the university, once said, keep the form of democracy but lie to the masses.

It was Peterson who made the word "Entitlement" into a bad word. Originally, the government use of the word meant that those who put into the system were entitled to reap the rewards of their contributions. Peterson made Social Security into some sort of welfare program, an "entitlement". The fallout from this point of view continues.

From a Los Angeles Times article we see the horror of the Peterson dogma:

For one thing, most recipients of Social Security and Medicare have spent their lives earning the benefits through payroll taxes. For another, the fiscal issues faced by Social Security and Medicare are distinguishable — Social Security is not facing an immediate crisis and may not for decades; Medicare's crisis stems entirely from the externality of rising healthcare costs. Finally, "more affluent" is not synonymous with "affluent": the "more affluent half" of U.S. households in 1994 were those earning $32,000 or more, according to the Census Bureau. That would be $48,418 in today's dollars. Today, the median figure is about $50,000, which shows that the average American family hasn't progressed much over that time.
Nevertheless, Peterson argued that too much money was going to the "middle class." He defined that segment as households earning $30,000 to $200,000, "which, however, hard-pressed, cannot claim to be destitute." He observed that cutting off entitlement outlays to these recipients "would balance the budget, and would so with a comfortable surplus to spare."

Paul Ryan and the Republicans clearly have run with this twisted concept, defining Social Security and Medicare as welfare programs even as main street contributes to those programs. The stigma has hurt older people. Older people are just now realizing that they are under attack from the Peterson philosophy and have been for some time. As my daughter has said, Paul Ryan has sympathetic eyes and a ruthless heart. But he has been funded by the Blackstone elite and is a Peterson man all the way:

Other donors included Paul Singer, CEO of Elliot Management, New York, New York; Stephen Schwarzman, chairman of Blackstone Group, New York, New York; Lee and Ramona Bass, president and manager, respectively, of LMBI LP in Fort Worth, Texas; Marsha Barbour, homemaker, Mississippi; Cliff Asness, founding partner of AQR Capital Management, New York, New York, and Laurel Asness.
Also giving were Peter Peterson, founder and chairman of Peter G. Peterson Foundation, New York, New York; and Michael Peterson, president and COO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, New York, New York; among many others.  

Ryan has said, after receiving half a million dollars from the Koch Brothers for tax cuts for business, that something else was hurting the budget, entitlements. The tax cuts are never mentioned as the reason America faces greater red numbers for years to come. Even busy Americans remember what Ryan leaves out. But he has the audacity to parrot the Peterson line.

The funny thing about Peterson's contributions to charity was that he contributed to his own foundation, that works to take money out of the hands of main street America. It was a reverse charity that Peterson funded. It was a rob from the poor and the middle, and give to the rich sort of charity. Peter G. Peterson was a reverse Robin Hood.

From the Times article this terrible but deserved condemnation of the DC crowd:

The shame of Washington, on the other hand, 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.

Not only did Peterson pay less in tax than a firefighter, due to his hedge fund tax loophole, but he lied about the Social Security Trust Fund, which he was liable for, according to an old article from Talkmarkets contributor Dean Baker:

I recall hearing Mr. Peterson pontificate for an hour, completely unchallenged, on a major public radio talk show. At one point, he assured his audience, with reference to the solvency of Social Security, "trust me, there is no trust fund." Mr. Peterson repeated this lie verbatim, just in case the meaning escaped his audience.
Of course, there is a Social Security trust fund that holds more than $2 trillion in government bonds. Under the law, these bonds are to be repaid from general revenue, which comes almost entirely from the personal and corporate income tax. In other words, the bonds held by the Social Security trust fund, which are supposed to pay the Social Security benefits of retired workers, are effectively tax obligations for wealthy people like Mr. Peterson. 
The truth is plain to see. Peter G. Peterson was an Ebenezer Scrooge on steroids. And he forever set the classes apart and damaged the American society. In my opinion, he was more responsible for class warfare than any other one person in America. One hopes that his untoward philosophy will fade with his passing.


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