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At the Center for Media and Democracy's PR Watch, Mary Bottari writes Fix the Debt’s Last Harrumph:

It’s debt ceiling time, and the United States economy is once again on the brink, held hostage by extremists hell-bent on forcing cuts to Medicare and Social Security.

Oh, wait. That was last year.

In 2014, for the first time in three years, the vote to extend the nation’s debt ceiling did not bring the United States to the brink of default in a high-stakes game of slash and burn.

Mary Bottari
Mary Bottari
Last week, the House voted to raise the government’s borrowing limit until March 2015 without any conditions. In fact, if the Speaker had his way, he would have tied the vote to the repeal of cuts to military retirement pensions. The Senate concurred, sending a clean debt ceiling bill to the President’s desk.

It was a striking turnaround for the forces of austerity. One of the biggest losers? The Campaign to Fix the Debt, the $40 million astroturf austerity group, financed by Pete Peterson and other Wall Street bigwigs, and fronted by Maya MacGuineas, Erskine Bowles, and Alan Simpson.

Call it Alan Simpson’s last harrumph.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

In July of 2012, Fix the Debt was launched with a patriotic flair. It set a July 4, 2013 deadline for steep budget cuts along the lines of the $4 trillion Simpson-Bowles plan. The austerity crowd had already succeeded in rigging the game, creating a December 31, 2012 “fiscal cliff” that would trigger automatic cuts without a bipartisan deal. Now they were poised to take advantage of that deadline and other standoffs to secure a “Grand Bargain.”

The idea was that Democrats were supposed to trade cuts to earned benefit programs like Social Security and Medicare for a bit more tax revenue from the Republican side. The President, who had created and backed the Simpson-Bowles commission, appeared willing to make a deal.

With a stalled economy and public sentiment decidedly against cuts to the popular lifesaving programs, Fix the Debt gathered the big guns. Over 100 CEOs were named to a council, and many contributed to the $40 million budget. Fix the Debt execs descended on the White House and the Capitol building. The nightly news was filled with images of CEOs like Honeywell’s David Cote stepping up to the mic to opine about the need for belt-tightening and shared sacrifice.

To show “grassroots” momentum, Fix the Debt hired PR firms, had them stand up phony state chapters, bankrolled the stunts of a youth group, The Can Kicks Bacl—which donned a foam tin can suit (the AmeriCAN) for cute videos—and hyped slanted numbers about “generational inequality.” America was going to rise up, they said, and they were going to get 10 million people to sign petitions. […]

Grassroots groups were in no mood for advice from Fix the Debt CEOs, like Goldman Sach’s Lloyd Blankfein, who somberly explained to CBS News in November 2012 that Americans had to “lower their expectations,” the retirement age had to be raised, and “entitlement programs have to be slowed down and contained.”

Bernie Sanders hit the roof, taking to the floor to denounce Blankfein for what he called his unbelievable arrogance, given the role the big banks played in collapsing the economy and skyrocketing the deficit. Days later, protesters descended upon a Fix the Debt event for the first time, chanting loudly and rattling a senior presenter from the Heritage Foundation. Burke Stansbury from the Campaign for Community Change  took a punch from the Heritage hysteric, and the throwdown was on. […]


Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2003Americans believe war will increase terror:

Bush Co. and its media and warblogging cabal argue that taking out Saddam will help the nation combat the terrorism threat. However, the public isn't buying it. In the latest CBS News poll, 59 percent of respondents believed war would lead to more terrorism in the US. Only 12 percent thought it would lower the threat.

In addition, 60 percent of all respondents, and 40 percent of Republicans, think the US should wait for UN approval before invading.
Not that Bush will heed poll results, but it does indicate that he will place this nation at war without the full and enthusiastic backing of the people—a reality that may bear consequences down the road.


Tweet of the Day:  

Girl scout sells hundreds of boxes of cookies in front of #Marijuana clinic – YouTube http://t.co/...
@GanjahNews



Every Monday through Friday you can catch the Kagro in the Morning Show 9 AM ET by dropping in here, or you can download the Stitcher app (found in the app stores or at Stitcher.com), and find a live stream there, by searching for "Netroots Radio."


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Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 08:30 PM PST.

Also republished by Social Security Defenders.

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