Let us say, right up front that we haven't seen I.O.U.S.A yet
...but soon will. We're very curious to see if the movie sticks to its billing and delivers the facts about borrow-and-spend policies run amuck.
No doubt about it, there is an important message there to deliver. However, what worries us is the inevitable next step promised by the billion-dollar Peterson Foundation
to target Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid as the "entitlement monster" that founder and conservative financier Pete Peterson says is bankrupting our nation.
As we all head to the theaters for a dose of fiscal "truth", it's important to know who's delivering the message. So, here's some background on the organization and its founder.
is no stranger to the battle over America's retirement safety net. For decades, the conservative financier and Nixon Commerce Secretary has been writing books, giving speeches, and crusading against social insurance programs. The multi-billionaire co-founder of the Blackstone Group has committed $1 billion to broaden his nationwide "entitlement crisis" campaign through a foundation bearing his name, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. I.O.U.S.A is the Foundation's first project out of the box.
Former U.S. Comptroller General, David Walker
, is the Peterson Foundation's President. As a leading voice on the so-called "entitlement crisis", Walker says this new position allows him to campaign even more aggressively than he could in his government role. According to the foundation's website, its goal is to "target undeniable, unsustainable, and untouchable threats to the nation's future and to future generations of Americans". Much like President Bush's failed efforts to privatize Social Security, the foundation will focus its message towards young people, business leaders, and the media. It is headquartered in New York to be closer to the Wall Street and media opinion makers Walker says are critical to their campaign to cut funding for Social Security and Medicare.
According to the New York Times
, Peterson also wants to organize an anti-entitlement youth group to counter seniors' advocacy organizations. With more than a billion dollars at its disposal, the Peterson Foundation is positioning itself to take up where the Bush administration failed, continuing the attack on Social Security and Medicare.
Many of Peterson's reform ideas will sound familiar because they were also a part of the President's privatization plan. Among them, raising the retirement age (Peterson suggests to 73), means testing, and massive benefit cuts. Peterson has called the current cost of living increases
in Social Security, which provide adjustments of roughly 3% a year, "one of the greatest fiscal tragedies of American history" because he considers them excessive. At the same time, he steadfastly defends a controversial private equity tax break that benefits America's wealthiest investors. The Peterson Foundation is preparing to pick up where the Bush administration started...launching a nationwide campaign to convince Americans, particularly our younger generations that we can't afford the nation's retirement safety net.
Except this time there's a billion dollars invested to sell that anti-"entitlement" argument.