Pete Peterson, the Commerce Secretary in the Nixon administration who made billions of dollars as a founder of the Blackstone Group, "is known as one of the top beneficiaries of the fund managers’ tax break, through which he personally pocketed tens of millions of dollars," according to Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
Now Peterson is headling at President Obama's economic summit this week, along with Baker, who accuses the billionaire of using his Wall Street wealth to try to cut Social Security and Medicare.
"Last year he [Peterson] spent $1 billion to endow the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, which seems to have destroying these programs at the top of its agenda...Peterson’s main story is that these programs are bankrupting the government and will impose an unbearable burden on future generations."
Baker counters that "the reality is that we have a broken health care system. The projections of scary budget deficits that Peterson’s crew constantly cites is based almost entirely on projections of exploding health care costs. If the United States can get its health care system in order, as every other country has done, then we would be projecting enormous budget surpluses as far as the eye can see.
"The public would be right to be outraged that a Wall Street billionaire is trying to take away the core social insurance programs that they will be dependent on in their old age. It was the Wall Street crew that wrecked the economy, costing millions of people their jobs and tens of millions their life savings. Now Peterson wants to use much of his Wall Street winnings to take away the only source of support that tens of millions of retirees have left."
But it shouldn't be a surprise, concludes Baker. "No one expects ethical behavior from Wall Street tycoons."