fix the debt

Across The Country, “Fix The Debt” Quietly Picks Corporate Lobbyists As Leaders

Image from Americans for Tax Fairness

The corporate front group Fix The Debt (FTD) wants to enact the Bowles-Simpson plan to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits while also unfairly lowering corporate tax rates.

To do this, it has assembled state chapters to push for this radical agenda at the grassroots level. It has picked out special leaders for these chapters who identify as both Democrats and Republicans, as evidence that the group has bipartisan appeal.

But besides their bipartisanship, many of these co-chairs and steering committee members share another trait: they are corporate lobbyists. Here’s three states where FTD picked leaders who also work as corporate lobbyists:

MINNESOTA:

Former Republican State Senator Rudy Boschwitz: Boschwitz is the head of the Boschwitz Associates lobbying firm, where he has worked for both Ball Aerospace & Technologies and TCF Bank. He is a state co-chair of FTD.
Former Democratic Congressman Tim Penny: Penny is the honorary chairman of the Dollar Coin Alliance, which is composed of mining companies trying to replace the U.S. dollar with a dollar coin. He is also on the board of Wells Fargo Advantage. He is a state co-chair of FTD.

PENNSYLVANIA:

Former Democratic State Representative TJ Rooney: Rooney is the president of Tri State Strategies Pennsylvania and the co-chair of FTD Pennsylvania. He’s a registered lobbyist.
Former Republican State Senator Earl Baker: Baker is on the state steering committee, and he boasts on his consultancy website that he has the “experience and knowledge to successfully represent you as a consultant in government relations” (lobbying).

MICHIGAN:

Former Republican Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema: Sikkema, who is a state co-chair for FTD, is the “Senior Policy Fellow” at Public Sector Consultants. He also helped run the campaign to defeat the renewable energy proposition on the state’s 2012 ballot.
Kevin McKinney, …

Ed Rendell: Obama Should Cut Social Security Benefits To Be Like Lincoln Freeing The Slaves

Image from Americans for Tax Fairness

The corporate front group “Fix The Debt” still wants to cut Social Security benefits and lower the corporate tax rate. Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell is working with the group, and he appeared on MSNBC today and made the remarkable claim that Obama needs to hike the Medicare age and cut Social Security benefits with a chained CPI, comparing it to President Lincoln leading on the 13th amendment and freeing the slaves:

RENDELL: Give the President credit, he said he would consider chained CPI, he said back in 2011 that he would raise the Medicare age, with carveouts. [...] Those are things he’s going to have to deliver. [...] He has to lead. And boy I’d love the whole Congress, this new Congress and the President, they should all go see a screening of Lincoln together, because Abraham Lincoln led on the 13th amendment when everybody on both sides told him he was crazy.

Watch it:

Hiking the Medicare age to 67 would cost seniors 11 billion dollars every year. Meanwhile, a chained CPI would cut a senior’s benefit by over $1,100 every year by time they hit age 85.

It is simply difficult to see the comparison between harming our seniors and freeing the slaves.

Click here to pledge to hold any Democrat who agrees to a deal that cuts Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits accountable.

SACRAMENTO BEE: L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa taking heat from Democratic left

A coalition of liberal groups this week delivered petitions with more than 21,000 names to Villaraigosa’s office, demanding that he resign from the Campaign to Fix the Debt, which those on the left consider to be a right-wing plot to slash Social Security, Medicare and other social service and support programs, and protect the wealthy against tax increases. Move.on, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and the California-based Courage Campaign are joining forces to pressure Villaraigosa, as detailed in this item on the Calitics website.

Los Angeles Mayor Says Cutting Social Security Benefits Is A ‘Balanced Approach’ To Deficit

Why is LA’s mayor helping a corporate front group cut your Social Security benefits?

Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has shocked progressives by joining the board of Fix The Debt, a group driven by corporate CEOs that seeks to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits while lowering the corporate tax rate. Over 12,000 people have signed a SignOn.org petition calling on Villaraigosa to reverse course and leave the organization.

Last night, Villaraigosa appeared on Huffington Post Live for an in-studio interview  to discuss a variety of issues. Host Jacob Soboroff asked him about the controversy surrounding Fix The Debt, and the mayor responded by saying that he joined Fix The Debt to promote a “balanced approach” to the national debt:

VILLARAGOISA: “Isn’t what’s broken in Washington right now that Democrats wont talk to Republicans, Republicans won’t talk to Democrats? There’s this blind allegiance to ideology…I’m a progressive abashedly, but I’m also practical…It’s true that a large number of people on Fix The Debt coalition are Republicans, and have supported Republicans…they also said we need a balanced approach, supported the Simpson Bowles plan as a balanced framework..I understand why some people would take umbrage particularly on the Democratic side and the progressive side but I’m not a university professor, I’m a mayor.

Watch it (the relevant section starts at 8:18):

It’s important to remember that Social Security does not add a dime to the deficit, something that both former right-wing president Ronald Reagan and current progressive Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (I) have said.

There is simply nothing “balanced” about making the poor and middle class pay for a debt caused by the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, two wars, and Wall Street’s recession.

Recall that the mayor supported and passed legislation in his own city …

‘Fix The Debt’ Campaign Has ‘No Position’ On Ending Bush Tax Cuts For The Wealthy

The “Fix The Debt” campaign, backed by tens of millions of dollars from corporate CEOs, is pushing an aggressive campaign to cut Social Security benefits while lowering the corporate tax rate. It claims that it is bipartisan and that it represents all Americans, not just the wealthy elite.

But Fix The Debt’s carefully crafted messaging fell apart over the weekend, as it quietly conceded that it won’t even take a position on one of the most popular ideas for deficit reduction: ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

In a statement to The National Journal, the organization wrote, “The Campaign to Fix the Debt does not have a position on raising tax rates.”

We conducted polling in the crucial swing state of New Hampshire an found that 66 percent of those surveyed want to end Bush tax cuts for households making more than $250,000 a year.

Fix The Debt can’t claim to be representing all Americans if it can’t even commit to some of the most basic and fair policies that they want.

‘Fix The Debt’ Campaign Hires Lobbying Firms That Work For Corporations Bilking Taxpayers

A screenshot of the Fix the Debt campaign’s logo.

The so-called “Fix The Debt” campaign is trying to enact the Bowles-Simpson plan to cut Social Security benefits while lowering the corporate tax rate. Even though Social Security doesn’t add anything to the deficit, these austerity hawks say they support this plan in order to battle U.S. debt.

But if this group is just so passionately concerned with the debt, why did it hire public relations and lobbying firms that work for corporations who bilk U.S. taxpayers out of billions? Here’s a rundown of some of the firms the group has hired:

DCI Group: This D.C.-based lobbying shop has had clients that include Microsoft — which has dodged billions in taxes by shifting assets overseas — and Exxon Mobil, which benefits from $600 million in annual special tax breaks.
Glover Park Group: Glover Park offers its services to JP Morgan Chase, which received $94.7 billion as part of the federal government’s bank bailouts. Glover Park also works for the American Bankers Association, which represents bailed-out banks, and defense contractor giant Lockheed Martin. UnitedHealthCare — which fights for its unnecessary share of federal dollars spent on health care —  is another Glover client.
Dewey Square Group: Dewey Square Group has worked for the bailed-out bank Bank of America and various biotech firms that net government contracts.
Burson-Marsteller (B-M): The force behind Fix The Debt’s “Got Debt” ad campaign, B-M does not publicly disclose its public relations clients, but various trade industry media has reported that its clients include the war profiteer Blackwater USA and numerous other corporations that get rich off of taxpayers.

Keep in mind that this is a small summary of some of the clients …

Ed Rendell Adopts Right-Wing Talking Points To Justify Cutting Social Security And Medicare

Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell (D) has a reputation of being a champion for the middle class. But since he left his position as governor, he’s decided to sell himself out to various shady causes that are willing to pay big for his advocacy. For example, he became a paid speaker for the MEK, an Iranian cult group that waged a sophisticated campaign to get de-listed from the U.S. Terrorism group list, despite its past violence against Americans and others.

His latest sellout involves Social Security and Medicare. He has joined the “Fix The Debt” campaign, a $30 million effort designed to implement the Simpson Bowles plan to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits while lowering corporate taxes.

Here’s what he said on NPR today about how he wants to cut Social Security and Medicare:

RENDELL: But what the president should’ve said I think and what I hope he says before the campaigns over is look the most important thing we’ve gotta do is fix the debt…and I intend to do that. Look at entitlement programs, because look, when Social Security and Medicare were passed, people were living average life expectancy of 67, 68, now it’s 79 and a half years, and they weren’t meant to cover that much time, so we’ve got to restructure.

First of all, Social Security is completely unrelated to the debt. The program funds itself and is fully funded going out to 2037. After that, if we simply raise the payroll tax cap, it will be funded far out into the future. By conflating Social Security with the debt issue, Rendell is being simply dishonest.

Second of all, the numbers he’s citing about life expectancy are misleading. It’s true that there have been strong gains in life expectancy for some …

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