We first asked this question just over a year ago about multi-billionaire and anti-Social Security scold, Pete Peterson. Back then he had just started spending the fortune he’s promised to invest convincing Washington that Social Security is to blame for our fiscal woes. While he hasn’t spent the entire billion dollars yet, it’s clear he definitely owns a large share of the inside-the-Beltway thinking.
Here’s where some of that money has gone: millions to groups who deliver his anti-entitlement message as their own, a propagandist movie CNN airs as a legit documentary, a “news service” the Washington Post used without identifying it’s funder, (until called on it), “loaning” Peterson-paid staff to the President’s fiscal commission and now funding yet another seemingly bi-partisan, unaffiliated effort to keep the spinners spinning. Meet the new Moment of Truth Project, led by the New America Foundation which collected up to $999,999 from the Peterson foundation.
Claiming, “the era of deficit denial is over”, this project gives Fiscal Commission Chairs, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, new jobs now that the Commission has finished its work without issuing a final Committee report. The “Truth” Project’s kickoff event is a virtual who’s who of Washington fiscal hawks and commission members who voted in support of the Chairmen’s fiscal recommendations. Not surprisingly, those who voted against the Chairmen’s fiscal proposals were not invited to next week’s shindig.
So, Bowles and Simpson move from Presidential Commission Chairs to Peterson Foundation-funded advocates. The connections between these groups and the fiscal commission were shocking even in this era of pay-to-play politics. Maybe in that light, this is just an extension of that growing hand-in-glove relationship between those with a political mission and the money to sell it and those who have the power to deliver.
So, that’s what led us to ask the question again…What does a billion dollars buy you? Apparently, in Washington these days — quite a lot.