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Will Democrats Embrace American Austerity? Crash This Party and See

By       Message Richard Eskow     Permalink
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Heard about the meeting that's being held to decide your economic future? No? Don't feel bad: That's because you weren't invited.

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But Tim Geithner was. So was Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican member of Congress whose radical right-wing plans for cutting Medicare have made him the subject of a Mitt Romney "bromance." And so was Bill Clinton, who showed up last year and uttered the usual Beltway insider's falsehoods about what's really wrong with Social Security.

Maybe your invitation to billionaire Pete Peterson's "Fiscal Summit" got lost in the mail. Or maybe they really, really didn't want you there. Who cares? That's no reason not to go anyway.

Hey, Sen. Bernie Sanders wasn't invited, and his proposal for Social Security was more popular with the American people than anything that's likely to be discussed at this little get-together.

It's Your Party

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That's right: There's a "summit," and nobody invited the American people. They didn't even invite the guy who proposed the fiscal plan that most Americans - including most Republicans - wanted, according to the polling data. But he's going anyway.

That's Bernie for ya.

In fact, there will be a rally outside and Bernie will be speaking there. The rally's at 1 pm on May 15 (next Monday, in front of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation Fiscal Summit. The address is 1301 Constitution Avenue NW in Washington.

Call it the "People's Summit," the "Sidewalk Summit," or -- in honor of MCA -- a "fight for your right to crash their party." Whatever you call it, it's on. Some of my CAF colleagues will be there, along with a bunch of other good folks.

I'd go myself, but I burned through my travel hours this month by going to Charlotte for the Bank of America shareholder's meeting and Occupy protests. That was another party where the public wasn't very welcome.

Party Favors

Peterson, who served in President Nixon's cabinet, has funded a lot of events and "educational" materials to promote the misguided and destructive ideas about government spending that dominate the discourse inside the Beltway. They're the same austerity ideas that have broken Europe's economy -- and are now breaking down its social and political order.

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These ideas that were most recently packaged as the "Simpson/Bowles" plan, which was put forward by those two individuals when they failed to lead their Presidential Deficit Commission to a successful conclusion. (These personal opinions are often misrepresented in the press as the "Deficit Commission proposal"; actually the Commission failed to agree on a proposal.)

The Simpson/Bowles plan will be the main course on this party's menu. It is a far-right proposal that leaves Bush tax cuts in place for the super-wealthy. It would even lower their overall tax rate, while providing cover for this radical wealth shift with the elimination of tax breaks that the middle class depends on. (They don't say which ones, but employer health insurance, child tax credits, and the home mortgage interest deductions are the main targets.)

The Simpson/Bowles plan would trigger across-the-board cuts to government spending, including programs that serve middle-class and lower income people. Corporate tax rates would be cut, too, while the middle class would be forced to contend with gasoline taxes and cuts to both Social Security and Medicare.

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Host of 'The Breakdown,' Writer, and Senior Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

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