I notice that the Daily Beast decided to do a long PR ad for an interview with Peter Peterson, which tried to make clear just how reasonable the man is. Many of his cheerleaders quickly hailed it as persuasive proof.
The problem is that on the issue of the deficit, Peterson is a self-serving hypocrite. If he hadn’t spread around a billion dollars throughout the media and think tanks, he would probably be laughed at when he throws out phrases like “shared sacrifice” when giving his position on what his own tax rate should be. The Daily Beast’s pathetic papering over of Peterson’s hypocrisy is a complete failure to inform its readers properly. From Daily Beast:
Social justice? The phrase that has Glenn Beck running for the hills? Peterson isn’t exactly Robin Hood, and has justifiably taken heat for his opposition to closing corporate tax loopholes and raising taxes on hedge funds. Nonetheless, he volunteered to The Daily Beast that the rich would have to pay higher taxes in order to reduce income inequality. Such talk is heresy in Republican circles.
Sounds so “reasonable,” right? What the article does not mention is that Peterson was himself a hedge-fund manager. In addition to spending big to create deficit hysteria and promoting cuts to Social Security, Peterson has fought diligently to defend the hedge-fund tax loophole that has saved him hundreds of millions. This tax loophole has allowed Peterson to become a billionaire while paying a lower tax rate than most middle-class families. From “The New York Times”:
But the larger question that was posed by Mr. McCurry is unavoidable: Can a man who has scored riches from an industry that has benefited from a generous, controversial tax break emerge as a credible voice in favor of broad fiscal constraint in Washington?
It is a quandary that has plagued Mr. Peterson for years. And while he supports increased taxes on the wealthy (along with broad-based benefit reductions), he remains firm in his defense of the special provision for private equity partnerships despite the view of many on Wall Street, including the billionaire investor Warren E. Buffett, that the rate is too low.
“This is a fairness argument,” said Mr. Peterson, who says that increasing the 15 percent rate for so-called carried interest, compared with ordinary tax rates of roughly double that, would force private equity companies overseas. “There are so many other partnerships, why pick on this high-growth sector?”
So Pete Peterson’s definition of “shared sacrifice” is that everyone else is forced to sacrifice while his tax rate remains lower than a firefighter’s or a high school principal’s. I guess the new definition of “reasonable” billionaire is one who thinks other rich people should pay higher taxes, just not himself. Peterson is a deficit hypocrite. Why anyone would listen to this man on why we should cut entitlements for middle-class Americans, who pay a higher tax rate than this billionaire and paid for these programs, is beyond me.