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It is my job to bring to you not just the news that took place, but the news that has yet to happen.

Today, that’s exactly what we have.

There is a war coming to try to change Social Security from a social safety net to a "revenue stream" for certain corporate interests, and that war is set to begin Tuesday morning, according to information that was provided to me yesterday afternoon.

Follow along, and you’ll be both forewarned and forearmed.



--Actual "Burma Shave" Message, 1945, from "Verse By The Side of the Road", Frank Rowsome, Jr.

So here’s the dish: a limited partnership corporation called The Blackstone Group, through years of trading in real estate, operating hedge funds, giving financial advice to other companies and governments, and buying and selling companies (Hilton Hotels is one of theirs, the company that makes Corexit, the oil dispersant, is another), made its co-founder and former Chairman Peter G. Peterson a more-than-billionaire; a billion of that went to endow a Foundation that bears his name.

The Foundation has a particular interest in things budgetary and governmental, and they are seen as one of the groups most looking to change the way Social Security works today.

(Change, you say? Indeed, and if you’ve been following this series of stories, you already have an idea of what that might entail.)

The next thing you need to know is that there is a Great Big Deal Presidential Commission currently at work who is charged with identifying...

"...policies to improve the fiscal situation in the medium term and to achieve fiscal sustainability over the long run. Specifically, the Commission shall propose recommendations designed to balance the budget, excluding interest payments on the debt, by 2015. This result is projected to stabilize the debt-to-GDP ratio at an acceptable level once the economy recovers. The magnitude and timing of the policy measures necessary to achieve this goal are subject to considerable uncertainty and will depend on the evolution of the economy. In addition, the Commission shall propose recommendations that meaningfully improve the long-run fiscal outlook, including changes to address the growth of entitlement spending and the gap between the projected revenues and expenditures of the Federal Government."

...and that the Commission is going to deliver a report with its suggestions December 1st.

It would be fair to say that there are those who are concerned that "the fix is in", so to speak, and that the report will be the beginning of an effort to privatize Social Security...and guess what?

Managing the Federal Government’s Social Security money, for a handsome fee, would be a spectacular business opportunity for Pete Peterson and The Blackstone Group, and to help create the environment where that can happen, the Peterson Foundation is dropping $20 million on a TV ad campaign to try to convince you to get interested in privatizing Social Security, too.

This Tuesday morning, November 9th, Peterson will appear at Washington, DC’s Newseum to unveil the advertising campaign, presumably to the delight of the assembled throng and the sipping of the coffee of the assembled media; this according to a Peterson Foundation press release that came across my desk yesterday.

There’s even a catchy name for the reform program: "OweNo"...and if you’ve already written your own "Oh, No!" Social Security joke, you’re apparently a bit faster on your feet than the guy who tried to sell Chevy Novas in Spanish-speaking countries...or the folks who came up with this catch phrase.

So that’s the story: come Tuesday, Pete Peterson, with a presonal fortune that comes from a Big Fat Wall Street Firm That Would Love To Manage Your Money For Big Fat Fees, is dropping $20 million to tell you that it’s time to "get a Chilean"...and I’m here to tell you that such a procedure is going to hurt your wallet, a lot—and when it’s all over, you’re the one who’s going to be saying "Oh, No!"

FULL DISCLOSURE: This post was written with the support of the CAF State Blogger's Network Project.

Originally posted to fake consultant on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 07:16 AM PDT.


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Comment Preferences

  •  the war starts tuesday. (21+ / 0-)

    you have been warned.

    "...this election has never been about me. it's about you."--barack obama

    by fake consultant on Fri Nov 05, 2010 at 10:58:09 AM PDT

    •  I was warned in 1980... (7+ / 0-)

      when the moron Reagan was elected with his cabal of idiots committed to destroying the working class.

      The only practical solution to "fixing" social security is to take the $110,000 cap off contributions.  Then the rich will have to squeal some more with that extra 7.6% addition to their deductions.  Tough shit.  They can afford it.  An unemployed worker cannot contribute to SS, but must find a way, with no job or money, to prepare for his/her retirement.  Yeah.  That's gonna work.

      If Social Security becomes privatized, watch for the second revolution on a corner near you.

      "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

      by dolfin66 on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 08:01:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  i do agree that... (4+ / 0-)

        ...taking off the cap is an obvious first step--but i would also point out that you can means test as well.

        if you're making $250,000/year in retirement, for example, do we really need to provide you with some extra social security money?

        "...this election has never been about me. it's about you."--barack obama

        by fake consultant on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 08:10:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Good and true question.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          fake consultant

          and the answer is of course not.  After $110,000, the 7.6% could be partially deducted from FICA.

          "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

          by dolfin66 on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 08:29:25 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  You should know that the benefit formula already (4+ / 0-)

          is a form of means testing.  The PIA [primary insurance amount] formula is weighted to replacce more of low income wage earners income than high income wage earners.

          PIA formula
          For an individual who first becomes eligible for old-age insurance benefits or disability insurance benefits in 2011, or who dies in 2011 before becoming eligible for benefits, his/her PIA will be the sum of:

          (a) 90 percent of the first $749 of his/her average indexed monthly earnings, plus
          (b) 32 percent of his/her average indexed monthly earnings over $749 and through $4,517, plus
          (c) 15 percent of his/her average indexed monthly earnings over $4,517.

          There is also a cap on the total benefit that can be paid on an account number.  Cutting that benefit out altogether would be a hard sell.  It might be possible to gradually decrease it based on outside income.  But if you do that, you will have to give up the income tax revenue that is generated on Social Security benefits that are paid to people who have other income that exceeds a certain amount.

          There is no easy fix.  Each action may trigger another action that will offset the gain.

        •  Fuck means testing. It's entirely uncessary (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          denise b

          and would only have the potential to save a pittance if we limited it to people who made over 250k.

          The political damage massively exceeds the fiscal gain.  You're talking about cutting off the benefits of one half of one percent of seniors, or about 1.2% of yearly outlays.

          How do you compromise with people who talk about you like you're a dog?

          by JesseCW on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 10:11:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Peterson was a co-founder (5+ / 0-)

    but he is not the boss.  In fact, if you check their webpage for leadership you will not even see his name.  His co-founder, Stephen A. Schwarzman, is Chairman and CEO.

    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

    by teacherken on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 07:25:25 AM PDT

    •  thanks for that... (0+ / 0-)

      ...and my bad.

      "...this election has never been about me. it's about you."--barack obama

      by fake consultant on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 07:39:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Teacherken, it is true that Peterson (5+ / 0-)

      is not on the Catfood Commission. However, his various foundations have provided all staff and staff support for the Deficit Commission. He doesn't need to be personally involved and it would have negative tax consequences for him to do anything but cheer the participants on.

      His various foundations including Cato, AEI and Heritage, are non-partisan, not-for-profit charitable institutions--largely tax exempt operations which advocate, among other things, the aboliton of SS and its transformation into a wholly owned subsidiary of the Blackstone Group, a bond trading firms with billions in assets.    

      He recently attended a meeting called by Gates and Buffet et al. to convince US billionaires to pledge half their income to charity. Peterson's charities are the above listed foundations whose purpose is to abolish SS and dismantle all entitlement programs, among other things. In short, Peterson is the big bad wolf and we are on his dinner menu.

      Having already spent at least one billion dollars on this goals, he stands in a good position to get that investment back in multiples big enough to choke a horse. In sum, the President had no business setting up the Commission, and having done so, has put us in danger of losing every public program instituted during the New Deal. Whaddaya

  •  Social Security is not going to get privatized (4+ / 0-)

    How is that going to happen with a Democratic President and Congress?

    Bush couldn't even do a mild form of it it when the GOP controlled both houses.

    Why are we so prone to hysteria here?

    "Let us give this capital back to the people to whom it belongs."-William Jefferson Clinton

    by The High Command on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 07:32:00 AM PDT

  •  just wait until they outsource (4+ / 0-)

    some of the adminisration of your social security benefits to $0.25/day third world workers, who will hold your ss number in their hands.

    what could possibly go wrong?

    Thank you, Keith Olbermann

    by LivesInAShoe on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 07:35:43 AM PDT

  •  2010 Pilot test 100 seniors (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fake consultant, whaddaya
    I would love to see a pilot group of 100 people near retirement given the chance to pull out and invest their own money in the stock market.  Of the 100 how many would want that risk?  Of the people that decide this is a better idea , how many will lose?  If we had ran this test 10 years ago, we would have 100 people that would have lost their asses, and would have suggusted gambling on social secuirty is a bad move.

    "Hey, with religion you can't get just a little pregnant"

    by EarTo44 on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 07:36:11 AM PDT

  •  We need to keep Social Security (6+ / 0-)

    without them raising the full retirement age. If they do raise the full retirement age the younger workers will not get as much as we do.

    Raising the full retirement age also raises how much is cut off your benefit for those who retire at 62.  They cut about 5% off for every year early you take retirement before full retirement age.

    Somehow they have convinced the young that it won't be there for them.  Half the battle is convincing them it will be.

    Social Security is a great bare bones retirement.  If you want to invest there is a 401k, if you have extra money.  If you don't have extra money, you probably shouldn't get in the market.  Or if the government wants the younger workers in the market, then they need to figure out how to help the low paid workers find the money to invest without jeapordizing their Social Security.

  •  Always keep in mind (5+ / 0-)

    when a politician says they want to 'fix' or 'save' Social Security, they sometimes mean cutting it to the bone or privatizing it.

    •  ironically... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ..reagan was the last "fixer", and he had no interest at all in privatizing--something our republican friends might do well to keep in mind.

      "...this election has never been about me. it's about you."--barack obama

      by fake consultant on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 07:58:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  FC, when Reagan left the Presidency (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        fake consultant, JesseCW

        he receivedd Social Security, Medicare, a pension from SCAG, one as the former Governor of CA, and one as President of the US. No fan of privatization, he. The only way, in my opinion, he showed any sense at all. Whaddaya nt

        •  more irony: i lived in california... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          relentless, JesseCW

          ...when he was gov,and one of his "bight new ideas" for fixing the california budget problems was top propose selling the books out of the university of california's libraries.

          not a big fan of rocket science, either, it would appear.

          "...this election has never been about me. it's about you."--barack obama

          by fake consultant on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 08:34:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Anyone who is part of the Plan D (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    denise b, fake consultant, JesseCW, laker

    medicare drug program has a glimpse of where they want to take us.

    A crazy quilt of mandated stock brokers and investment companies offering crap products.

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't.

    by crystal eyes on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 08:46:44 AM PDT

    •  to you they're crap products... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      crystal eyes, JesseCW

      ...but to the "crazy quilt of mandated stock brokers and investment companies" those products are providing ongoing streams of revenue, plus there are generous cash subsidies from the taxpayer just to sweeten the deal. come you hate capitalism, anyway?

      "...this election has never been about me. it's about you."--barack obama

      by fake consultant on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 08:57:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We are the hog food of Wall Street (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        fake consultant

        and since they bought up our government, our laws and our courts, they get to legally gobble us up.  

        If cats could blog, they wouldn't.

        by crystal eyes on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 09:02:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  i'm not so sure about all that. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          crystal eyes, laker

          i get the impression that when no one's looking, the feast is on...but if there's a crowd outside with pitchforks and torches..."we'll come back later".

          this would be a good time for pitchforks and torches.

          "...this election has never been about me. it's about you."--barack obama

          by fake consultant on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 09:16:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The more fatter they get the bolder they become (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            fake consultant, laker

            Suspending Keith the way it was done is like saying "bring on your harmless little pitch forks because we've got the system nailed down"

            If cats could blog, they wouldn't.

            by crystal eyes on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 09:31:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  i'll just say this about that: (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              crystal eyes, JesseCW

              i am personally extraordinarily strict about my own "journalism policy": i donate to no one, period...and if i'm attending your campaign event to cover the story, i will not even touch the free food or drinks (although a cash bar creates no moral dilemma for me)...and if it turns out olbermann donated to congressional campaigns without the knowledge of his employer, i suspect he really is going to have a problem at work.

              just to add to that, the folks at caf went from being helpful to being actual cash supporters of the work i'm doing, and that's why you're seeing a disclosure statement in this story.

              always better to disclose, always better to let your audience know what you're about...and if olbermann had disclosed on the air at the time, with his bosses' foreknowledge, we wouldn't be talking about this now.

              i hope he can work this out, but if my understanding of the facts is correct it may not be possible...but as i said in a comment above, stewart/colbert, followed by an hour of olbermann just going nuts, would really make me like comedy central even more than i do now.

              "...this election has never been about me. it's about you."--barack obama

              by fake consultant on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 09:55:17 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Nightmare law (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fake consultant

      A perfect example of how not to do things.

      The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. --Bertrand Russell

      by denise b on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 10:35:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Note: Social Security is not a near-term problem (4+ / 0-)

    The "Social Security budget" accounts for only 5% of the projected (unified) 10-year Federal deficit of roughly $10 trillion.  In a family of obese budgets, Social Security is looking trim and fit.
    The problem children are Medicare and the non-mandatory portion of the (official) U. S. Government budget, each of which has a projected 10-year deficit of roughly $4.5 trillion.  Two-thirds of that "non-mandatory" budget is defense-related.  So anyone interested in reducing the near-term deficit must be willing to cut defense spending a lot.

    Don't be a DON'T-DO... Be a DO-DO!

    by godwhataklutz on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 08:48:42 AM PDT

    •  the trick to cutting defense... (0+ / 0-) that you have to do it by reducing payroll, which is going to require other countries to take up more of their defense burden...but making that happen is also going to create a series of "mini arms races" as regional players bulk up for their own needs.

      think india/pak, china/korea/korea/japan/russia, and maybe nato/russia/iran/israel/every other country in the middle east

      "...this election has never been about me. it's about you."--barack obama

      by fake consultant on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 09:01:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We can cut 150 billion a year just by getting (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        fake consultant

        out of Afghanistan and Iraq.

        No payroll cuts.

        How do you compromise with people who talk about you like you're a dog?

        by JesseCW on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 10:37:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  that's not entirely true... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

 we will then have to replace a lot of broken-down and worn-out equipment, but it is a fact that that would be a real good place to start.

          another way to save money would be to slow down the pace of purchase of aircraft carries, another, quit buying c-17s, and still another, quit buying extra f-35 jet engines.

          that said, in peacetime 60% of defense if payroll, and we gotta figure out how to afford a force that we don't burn out.

          "...this election has never been about me. it's about you."--barack obama

          by fake consultant on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 10:52:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Absolutely. Our supercarrier fleet is now larger (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            fake consultant

            than it was at the peak of the Cold War.

            In real dollars, we're spending just shy of double what were in Clintons last year.

            Now, a lot of that is payroll,  but a lot of that payroll is from paying Reserves and Guard full-time salaries + combat pay.  Which is to say, we wouldn't need to drastically reduce (if it all) our regular armed forces to greatly reduce payroll.

            How do you compromise with people who talk about you like you're a dog?

            by JesseCW on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 11:04:59 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  the pentagon would tell you... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              ...that they need the carriers because so many countries are unwilling, these days, to allow the us to base on their soil.

              i might suggest that if we weren't so busy fighting iraq over made-up wmds and unconditionally supporting israel, that might not be such a problem...but then, what do i know?

              "...this election has never been about me. it's about you."--barack obama

              by fake consultant on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 11:42:56 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

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