Pete Peterson's going to live forever

Living Forever

by digby

This adoring paean to Pete Peterson in the NY Times is brimming with the kind of praise one normally sees reserved for rock stars and royalty. I think my favorite part of it is the idea that his 30 year scare campaign against "entitlements" is a sign of prescience rather than a self-fulfilling prophesy. No mention of the fact that he once called Social Security a "taxpayer funded vacation" Or of Peterson's response when the country was in surplus and politicians proposed applying it to social security:

PETE PETERSON: People talk about how they're gonna to put a couple of trillion dollars away, you know, in a lockbox and even throw in interest, you know, on that money...I wish them well but I don't think there's ever been a lockbox that can't be picked by co-conspirators in the White House and Congress to spend it.

(So we might as well give millionaires the money!)

Bill Clinton is quoted as saying that Peterson, unlike most Republicans, at least recognizes that revenues will have to be raised. Does a guy who believes that no matter how much of a surplus you build into the system the politicians will spend it on something else really backing tax increases on the wealthy? I've got a sneaking suspicion Pete's just pulling old Bill's leg on that one. It's very convenient to say you back something you know very well your friends will never let happen. (Also see: social security is taxpayer funded "vacation.")

So why does Peterson get such a friendly welcome from Democrats?

The Peterson Foundation specializes in savvy, if somewhat corny, media campaigns that seek to popularize the issue of the debt: a documentary called “I.O.U.S.A.”; Budgetball, an “outdoor game of fiscal strategy” for students; and the faux-presidential candidacy of Hugh Jidette (say it again), complete with a fake biography and a real Facebook page. It has also started partnerships with Columbia University’s Teachers College (to produce curriculum on the debt) and with MTV (to alert college students to fiscal irresponsibility).

Its most effective use of its founder’s fortune may be the millions of dollars in grants it has given over the years to think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the Center for American Progress, run by John Podesta, Mr. Clinton’s former chief of staff. “Everyone I know in the ‘budget community’ is trying to get Peterson money,” said Stan Collender, a longtime budget expert at the consulting firm Qorvis Communications.

Uh huh.

But I think this question is the most important one of the article, although they don't even attempt to answer it:

He will also host, in May, a meeting devoted to “debt solutions,” in which six of his grant recipients will offer proposals for reducing the debt and the so-called Gang of Six — three Republican and three Democratic senators committed to fiscal change — will play a role. It is a perfect example of cajoling the Establishment toward long-term goals.

The question, of course, is does the long term exist for a man of 84?

Sure it does. PetWhat do old rich men usually see as their long term goal?

From the pharaohs of ancient Egypt to the self-regarding thugs of ancient Rome to the glorified warlords of medieval and absolutist Europe, in nearly every urbanized society throughout human history, there have been people who have tried to constitute themselves as an aristocracy. These people and their allies are the conservatives...

In some societies the aristocracy is rigid, closed, and stratified, while in others it is more of an aspiration among various fluid and factionalized groups. The situation in the United States right now is toward the latter end of the spectrum. A main goal in life of all aristocrats, however, is to pass on their positions of privilege to their children, and many of the aspiring aristocrats of the United States are appointing their children to positions in government and in the archipelago of think tanks that promote conservative theories.

Thomas Jefferson said "there is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are virtue and talents." But, you know, if your offspring are useless cretins, you have to do something:

Peter Cary “PC” Peterson, 18 years old and a senior at Dwight, is sitting at Philippe on the Upper East Side, talking about the way the world works, based on his extensive experience. “Everything in New York City is about connections,” he explains, his eyes glinting and head lolling back. “It’s who you know and how much money you have. It’s really sad. And I am not saying I’m like that. But that’s what New York is: money and power.”

That's what all this is about --- making sure that that rich little Peterson Peterson twit and all the subsequent rich little Peterson twits carry on the line. That's how old Pete achieves his immortality.

Update: And just to make sure PC doesn't have to work to worry his little head too much:

Let's follow the money ...

Political analyst Jim Capo discusses a slide show presentation given by Walker after the "I.O.USA." premier [a movie backed by the Peterson Foundation about how our debt makes us DOOMED!], in which a mandatory savings plan was proposed that would be modeled on the Federal Thrift Savings Plan (FSP). Capo comments:

"The FSP, available for federal employees like congressional staff workers, has over $200 billion of assets (on paper anyway). About half these assets are in special non-negotiable US Treasury notes issued especially for the FSP scheme. The other half are invested in stocks, bonds and other securities.... The nearly $100 billion in [this] half of the plan is managed by Blackrock Financial. And, yes, shock, Blackrock Financial is a creation of Mr. Peterson's Blackstone Group. In fact, the FSP and Blackstone were birthed almost as a matched set. It's tough to fail when you form an investment management company at the same time you can gain the contract that directs a percentage of the Federal government payroll into your hands."

To put this in context, currently the annual Social Security revenues are over $700 billion. If, between rerouting money and increasing payroll taxes (cat food for all!), $350 billion could easily be diverted to firms like Blackrock. Even if Peterson's company only gets part of that, he earns back his billion (which was tax-deductible of course) pretty quickly. And then makesextracts a killing.

He's just doing his patriotic duty ...