The Committee for a Responsible Budget (CFRB) is at it again in their quest to cut Social Security and Medicare. Cloaked behind a lace curtain of “bipartisan” concern, the committee includes impotent deficit hawks, sharks and other carnivores of ill repute.
Of course, at the top of the list is Pete Peterson, a very, very old creature and to his fellow seniors, certainly very, very cold and calculating. This Wall Street darling, founder of the Blackstone Group (about $7 billion annual income), is former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, chairman emeritus of the Council for Foreign Relations, founder of the Concord Group, and former CEO of Lehman Brothers (John Kasich’s prior employer). With that background he deserves the Establishment+ designation.
If you watch tv you have probably noticed ads from Fix the Debt, which was founded in 2012, funded by Peterson and multiple CEOs and corporations. Fix the Debt is calling for a grand deficit bargain to be reached by reducing taxes on the wealthy, and cutting Medicare and Social Security by raising eligibility ages for both and reducing benefits.
Enter Stage Right Donald Trump.
CFRB recent report estimates so-called “Trumpcare” will cost $500 billion, even though a huge chunk of the so-called “costs” are simply a repeal of Barack Obama’s huge Medicare cuts. The President sliced about $800 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare subsidies without much notice or objection from politicians or the media. Trump plans to restore all that money to Medicare.
Trump’s website page: Healthcare Reform to Make America Great Again, outlines seven health care reform proposals, including repealing Obamacare, allowing health insurance companies to sell policies across state lines, health insurance deductions, enhancing health savings accounts (HSAs), and block-granting Medicaid to the states.
What is astonishing to me is that the leading GOP candidate urges no changes to Social Security and plans to shore up Medicare. Meanwhile, Ted Cruz and John Kasich want to increase retirement age, cut benefits and means test payments to seniors.
On the Democrat side, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders want to increase benefits for the lowest wage earners, while the party itself seems open to changes in COLA increases, retirement age (make white collar workers retire later than blue collar, ditto wealthy versus poor) and means testing payments more than currently.
Because both the Democrats and Republicans have embraced nearly all the proposals of CFRB and its motley crew of politicians and corporate execs, the public should be wary of today’s promises and tomorrow’s realities in Washington, D.C.
After all, it was Bill Clinton who first appointed a deficit commission in 1993, and Obama ordered his commission in 2010. Reviewing the Obama board’s membership and the current list of CFRB leaders shows the ties of big business and politicians in efforts to cut earned benefits. Erskine Bowles, Alan Simpson, Kent Conrad and Alice Rivlin served on both boards.
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