Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Austerity Con- A Little History

From a very interesting article at Slate, by David Weigel, here is a little history of the austerity craze, and its number one leader, Peter Peterson.  It focuses on the Concord Coalition, an advocacy group formed by Peterson and two Senators in 1992:

"For 20 years, a coalition of wealthy people—Pete Peterson chief among them—has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to build public support for austerity...

 The modern era of anti-deficit pressure campaigns began in 1992...In Facing Up, a 1993 Concord Coalition manifesto, Peterson argued for raising the full-retirement age to 67, for an “affluence test” to make the wealthy pay more for Medicare, for higher Medicare premiums, and for more taxes on benefits. He argued for a bunch of programs that Democrats would like, too, but honed in on entitlements because, clearly, there could be no future if they survived intact. “The Clinton plan doesn’t come close to balancing the budget, even in the near term,” wrote Peterson. “Inevitably, Clinton’s deficit path will mean a much larger public debt.

Five years later, Clinton was presiding over a balanced budget and a smaller public debt."

But did the fact that their dire predictions turned out to be utterly false cause them to reconsider their obsession with deficits and cutting "entitlements?"  Of course not:

"The professional deficit hawks responded by switching up their messaging—instead of an immediate fix to a current crisis, they wanted a fix to a looming crisis. The permanent class of austerity campaigners evolved..."

And the reason has been obvious all along (although apparently not to the idiots in the mainstream press.)  These people do not give a damn about the deficit.  What they do care about is taking everything they can away from ordinary people, and then using the money to give more tax breaks to the rich. 

Every one of them is a part of a gigantic extortion racket, with no other goal than to enrich themselves and their fellows at our expense.  And until people accept the fact that these people are nothing but criminals on a gigantic level, we are never going to be able to escape from their grip, which is rapidly squeezing the life out of this country.  Like the right wing cant that the wealthy are the "job creators" who cannot be burdened by being asked to pay their share, that tax cuts magically increase government revenue, and all the rest of it, their claims about deficits are nothing but self-serving lies, given credibility by being endlessly parroted by the supposedly wise members of our pathetic press corps.  And thus, the government moves on, with a series of "bipartisan agreements" which must balance crumbs thrown at the real problems with massive giveaways to the people who are responsible for causing the damage in the first place.  When things go well for them, they want to be absolved from contributing to our mutual welfare, and when they screw up, they expect the rest of us to suffer to pay off their debts.  And so far, it's worked out pretty well for them.

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