by Naked Capitalism, published June 3, 2011
Bribes work. AT&T gave money to GLAAD, and now the gay rights organization is supporting the AT&T-T-Mobile merger. La Raza is mouthing the talking points of the Mortgage Bankers Association on down payments. The NAACP is fighting on debit card rules. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities and the Economic Policy Institute supported the extension of the Bush tax cuts back in December. While it seems counter-intuitive that a left-leaning organization would support illiberal extensions of corporate power, in fact, that is the role of the DC pet liberal. This dynamic of rent-a-reputation is greased with corporate cash and/or political access. As the entitlement fight comes to a head, it’s worth looking under the hood of the DC think tank scene to see how the Obama administration and the GOP are working to lock down their cuts to social programs.
And so it is that the arch-enemy of Social Security, Pete Peterson, rented out the good name of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the reputation of the Center for American Progress, and EPI. All three groups submitted budget proposals to close the deficit and had their teams share the stage with Republican con artist du jour Paul Ryan. The goal of Peterson’s conference was to legitimize the fiscal crisis narrative, and to make sure that “all sides” were represented.
Now this tidy fact is not obvious if you check the Peterson Foundation publicity for its “Fiscal Summit”:
On Wednesday, May 25, 2011, senior Administration officials, policy experts and Democratic and Republican elected leaders will come together in Washington to discuss solutions to the nation’s fiscal challenges at the 2011 Fiscal Summit: Solutions for America’s Future, convened by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation…..The American Enterprise Institute, Bipartisan Policy Center, Center for American Progress, Economic Policy Institute, Heritage Foundation and Roosevelt Institute Campus Network will present and discuss their own proposed packages of solutions for achieving long-term fiscal sustainability at the Summit. These leading policy organizations, representing diverse perspectives, received grants from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation to develop comprehensive plans to address the nation’s projected long-term debt and deficits.
Why, after spending considerable resources, such as a website called New Deal 2.0, with virtually daily posts by Roosevelt fellows debunking deficit terrorism, and more formal work, such as a well-researched and argued paper by Tom Ferguson and Rob Johnson debunking deficit cutting in general and assaults on entitlements in particular, has the Roosevelt Institute cast its lot with a sworn enemy? Make no mistake, not only did the Institute undermine itsraison d’etre by attaching its name to the Peterson anti-entitlements campaign, but as we’ll discuss later, the end product, as would be expected, bolstered particular initiatives that are contrary to FDR’s legacy, the Institute’s more general “progressive” objectives, and sound economics.
As the sorry history of drug funded research shows and this example confirms, sponsored research has this funny way of delivering findings flattering to its funders. At best, whoever championed this unholy alliance at Roosevelt is guilty of a spectacular lapse of judgment. At worst, this is naked careerism, selling out one’s sponsor to curry favor with more powerful backers. One way to assure one’s influence and job security in the foundation realm is access to big donors. Who better to cultivate than one of the freest spenders in the economics policy space?
Continue reading Bribes Work: How Peterson, the Enemy of Social Security, Bought the Roosevelt Name