The NY Times asks about Peter Peterson, “Can the co-founder of the Blackstone Group who has scored riches from a controversial tax break emerge as a credible voice in favor of fiscal constraint in Washington?” Of course, he can. He just has to be clever about what he means by “fiscal constraint” (italics mine):
On Friday, Mr. Peterson will unveil the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and announce his plan to allocate his newfound billions to projects that will increase public awareness of fiscal imbalances, Social Security deficits and nuclear proliferation.
To assuage his guilt–let’s call him a guilty limousine conservative–Peterson will spend $100 million to establish an organization that will alert the public about the looming Social Security crisis.
Except there is no crisis. I’ve covered this extensively: Social Security is solvent in perpetuity, barring a decades-long economic slowdown. Even then, the increase in the payroll tax is minimal. Maybe showing this chart that illustrates that Social Security is doomed in precisely one Samuleson Unit would help:
That’s right: the Social Security Board of Trustees has predicted that Social Security will be insolvent in 30-38 years every year for the last fourteen years. Let’s just say the Trustees’ Report is a little…cautious. I’ve gone into this in more detail here (and here, here, and here).
Suffice it to say there is no Social Security crisis. There is a general budget (and a national federal debt) crisis, but why the first step–(as opposed to a last desperate step–in solving that problem would be to cut the most successful anti-poverty program in U.S. history escapes me. This is a program that has successfully provided basic economic security not only to the elderly, but also the disabled, widowed, and orphaned (who receive one-third of all Social Security payouts). Social Security keeps these groups from slipping out of the middle class and into poverty.
Former Clintonite Mike McCurry has a different solution:
“Where is it ordained that private equity pays only a 15 percent tax?”…”When is Pete Peterson going to stand up and say taxes must go up?”
Maybe a good first step in deficit reduction would be raising taxes on assholes like Peterson, as opposed to screwing over middle class Americans.