On Tuesday, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation will hold its third annual fiscal summit. We need this event like we need a mass outbreak of sado-masochism.
If you wonder why all right-thinking people seem to have concluded that austerity is the royal road to economic recovery from a severe financial collapse made on Wall Street, look no further than the Peterson Foundation. Pete Peterson, a Republican with prodigious Democratic and media connections, who made his fortune in private equity, has committed a cool billion dollars to the task of persuading less affluent Americans to tighten their belts. He is the cynical center’s answer to the Koch Brothers.
The Bowles-Simpson commission on deficit reduction, the idea of automatic triggers to cut deficits in a recession, the goal of a grand bargain to raise taxes and slash Social Security, the covey of bipartisan deficit hawks, the blurring of the issue of long term solvency for Medicare and Social Security with the issue of a recovery strategy, are all part of the Peterson Foundation’s grand design. The Washington Post‘s Lori Montgomery faithfully echoes Peterson’s line, as do one tedious column after another by the likes of Tom Friedman on the center-left and David Brooks on the center-right.