The Peterson Foundation’s Retirement Plan: Debtors Prisons

For readers interested in the emerging entitlement wars, and the insidious influence of Pete Peterson’s anti-entitlement campaign on the public debate (and, apparently, on Obama’s Deficit Commission), yesterday’s post on “Entitled to Know,” the blog of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, needs no introduction. I’m quoting the post in full, but you can click through to the original post to watch the segment on CNBC–and while you’re there, subscribe to the blog to receive the latest information on these issues. 

Apparently, these are the “good-old days” our nation’s fiscal hawks relish.  The Peterson Foundation’s David Walker co-hosted CNBC’s Squawk Box this morning (personally, we yearn for the good-old days when so-called “news” shows were hosted by journalists—not partisan advocates—but that’s another debate). 

The discussion followed the classic Peterson Foundation talking points—government bad, business good—but ultimately led to a nostalgic reminiscence for the good old days when Americans faced debtors prisons and had no sense of “entitlement” (presumably to the Social Security and Medicare benefits workers have funded for their entire working lives):

“The fact of the matter is we have to change how we do things. We are on an imprudent and unsustainable path in a number of ways. You talk about debtors prisons, we used to have debtors prisons, now bankruptcy is no taint. Bankruptcy is an exit strategy. Our society and our culture have changed. We need to get back to opportunity and move away from entitlement. We need to be able to provide reasonable risk but hold people accountable when they do imprudent things…it’s pretty fundamental.”… (David Walker, Peterson Foundation, CNBC Jun 10, 2010)

Now, maybe in the Peterson Foundation’s circle of Wall Street types and multi-billionaires, bankruptcy is an exit strategy, but for millions of middle-class Americans bankruptcy is, in fact, a life-altering and often debilitating choice.  As for pitting “opportunity” vs “entitlement”—that’s classic Peterson Foundation messaging designed to convince us that America’s seniors are somehow riding high on the hog and soaking taxpayers with all of their “entitlements”. 

Of course, these fiscal hawks never mention that fact that the government doesn’t pay for those “entitlements”, American workers do. It’s not the government’s money…it’s not Wall Street’s money…and those so-called “entitlements” have been paid for by you and me.  The truth is, retirees are entitled to receive the benefits they’ve been promised; however, fiscal hawks like David Walker would apparently rather roll back the clock, ignore those promises, and build more debtor’s prisons.

3 responses to “The Peterson Foundation’s Retirement Plan: Debtors Prisons

  1. “We need to be able to provide reasonable risk but hold people accountable when they do imprudent things…it’s pretty fundamental.”… so says David Walker, Peterson Foundation, CNBC Jun 10, 2010

    I guess that’s true for just us ordinary Americans, but not true for Wall Street types and the financiers who almost brought down the entire world economy in the fall of 2008. Thet were not only NOT held to account, none is in prison, and worse, they are back to their evil ways again.

  2. How long before we hear some Wall Street fat cat suggest to the starving and ailing surplus population to eat the spoiled cake and go to the ER for treatment?

  3. Mike Sullivan

    A lot of whining here. If you don’t like the bank bailout (people not being held accountable) then oust your Washington representatives.

    Unfortunately, shortly, the Social Security payments will be more than the “workers” pay into the fund. The government never invested your contributions. The government put the surpluses into the general fund to pay for other “entitlements”.

    Oh my gosh?!? Really? If we are not holding our representatives accountable, then WE are not being accountable.

    … or, have I gotten wrong? Are we looking for ‘big brother’ to take care of us?

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