Democratic California Congressman Xavier Becerra: “To once again, do what FDR did so well, and do what every Democratic President did so well in those years, and that is, to talk about strengthening Social Security, not privatizing Social Security.”
Cenk Uygur: That’s Congressman Xavier Becerra standing up against the Republicans and their ongoing war on Social Security. It’s a pleasure to at least see some Democrats fighting to protect our seniors. Republicans, of course, have been chomping at the bit to dismantle Social Security.
Just this year they proposed legislation to raise the retirement age, privatize Social Security, and cut benefits. They even argued to cut benefits and use the extra money to pay off the debt. Now let me be clear. Social Security hasn’t contributed one dime to the debt. In fact, it has a $1.5 trillion surplus. Now anyone who tells you otherwise is a flat out liar.
But, of course, they’re banking that you don’t know that, which is why they are pushing Social Security cuts to be part of those debt ceiling negotiations. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison said just last night, “I don’t think we can wait and I do think it should be part of the overall debate on raising the debt limit.”
Now that’s an absurd idea. But it turns out Hutchison and her Republican colleagues are getting paid by the Koch Brothers to push this nonsense. Check out this excellent clip explaining how from Brave New Films.
Bernie Sanders: “What the Koch Brothers want to do is destroy Social Security because Social Security is a Federal government program that has been enormously successful.
The Koch Brothers are funding think tanks and other organizations which are spreading an enormous amount of disinformation about Social Security.
They are very, very good on getting on television.”
Andrew Biggs, Cato Institute: “raising the retirement age….”
Veronique de Rugy, Heritage Foundation: “I would increase the retirement age….”
Jose Pinera, Cato Institute: “we will probably have to increase the retirement age….”
David Boaz, Cato Institute: “the real risk is social security running out of money….”
Neil Cavuto, Your World: “Social Security going bankrupt….”
Gretchen Carlson, Fox & Friends: “Social Security already bankrupt….”
Lawrence Kudlow, The Kudlow Report: “Social Security is going bankrupt….”
Lawrence Kudlow, The Kudlow Report: “I like the idea of personal accounts.”
Congressman Paul Ryan: “The option of investing one-third of their social security payroll taxes into personal retirement accounts….”
Bernie Sanders: “The Koch Brothers job is to do everything they can to dismember government in general. And if you have destroyed Social Security, you have gone a long way forward in that effort.”
Cenk Uygur: That was, of course, narrated by Senator Bernie Sanders.
Now understand if they privatize Social Security, Wall Street makes more money at your expense. If they cut your benefits, they give more tax breaks to the very rich, like the Koch Brothers. Don’t let anyone, Republican or Democrat, cut your Social Security. You paid into it your whole life. Raising the retirement age is an enormous cut to your benefits. You should throw every bum who suggests that right out of office. That’s my opinion.
Let’s get somebody else in here, actually the person who called them out in the first place, Emmy and Peabody award winning producer, Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films. He’s behind that clip you just saw there. Robert, that was excellent because it showed exactly where the money was coming from and exactly where it is going. So first break it down for me. Tell me about the think tanks, the media, and the politicians. How do they work in coordination to push out this message?
Robert Greenwald: Well it took us several months of research at Brave New Foundation to find all of these clips, Cenk. But what Jeff, and Joseph, and Laila did was, they really showed us how an echo chamber works.
We can talk about a conservative right-wing echo chamber all day long, but when you see in the video, it starts with ideas at a think tank, which they fund, then it goes to pundits, who they fund, then it goes to activists, who they fund, and then the exact same words come out of elected officials mouths, it’s quite brilliant and it’s quite strategic in terms of their funding and organizing right across the spectrum.
Cenk Uygur: Alright, I actually want to show audience a couple of graphs that really show what you are talking about. For example, when you go to the Koch Brothers campaign donations, you see that they have given just in 2010 $2.6 million to campaigns, and that’s the tip of the iceberg. They say that they are going to raise $88 million for the 2012 elections. And then when you go to the think tanks that they fund, look at all this money. They gave $13.6 million to Cato Institute. $9 million to Mercatus Center, $3.4 million to Heritage Foundation, $2.4 million to Reason Foundation, overall $28.4 million.
And then these guys come out and pretend like, golly gee willikers, they did some research and these are the independent ideas that they happen to have, and golly gee willikers, Fox News seems to love those ideas and pushes them out as well, and so do all the people who got the money from the Koch Brothers and our politicians. So you see all of that machine, and you guys laid it out brilliantly.
The problem is, who is on the other side? Right? Are the Democrats on the other side fighting back enough in your opinion?
Robert Greenwald: No, nobody’s fighting back nearly enough because you just said it before: this is a profound moral issue. It affects millions of people in our country. And they are trying to hide it: the Koch funded echo chamber with their think tanks, with their studies. For some reason the people in Washington have gotten caught up in some of this thinking, like they have on the war, of course.
But in this case we need to be very clear that it is money that people have worked for, it is money they have earned, and it is being taken away from them on a hypothetical idea while at the same time millionaires and billionaires like the Koch Brothers get more and more tax deductions.
Cenk Uygur: Now I want to show you a clip of Kay Bailey Hutchison. She was just on Hardball pushing the same talking points. Let’s watch it first.
Kay Bailey Hutchison: “I think that people realize that if we don’t do something, we are going to have drastic cuts and big tax increases, and people really don’t want that.”
Cenk Uygur: Now, one, is that true, and, two, what are the different talking points that they push out, Robert? What are they trying to get the country to believe?
Robert Greenwald: Well, they are trying to get the country to believe that we are bankrupt. And again, as you said before, it’s a total lie. It is a distortion. And the notion that maybe 25 years from today, possibly there might be a problem—I mean, we know how unpredictable the economy is—so it does not make any sense unless you go to motive.
And the motive is to destroy another important government program. And the Kochs have put phenomenal resources into that. And, again, they are very smart about where they invest and how they invest. And they don’t just put all of their money into a few ads for politicians. In fact, there was a great line in James Meyer’s article about the Kochs: they said, politicians read from a script. They want to write the script. And by funding ideas, and by funding activists, and by funding pundits, that is really what they are doing. They are controlling the dialogue. They are controlling the conversation. And I cannot stress strongly enough how important it is that we understand it and that we take action to reply to it.
Cenk Uygur: Alright. Robert Greenwald of Brave New films, who is definitely taking action, we really appreciate your time tonight.
Robert Greenwald: Thanks.
Transcribed by the Barefoot Accountant of Accountants CPA Hartford, Connecticut, LLC
Accountants CPA Hartford, Connecticut, LLC, located in Berlin, Connecticut, offers quality accounting, auditing, tax, bookkeeping, and QuickBooks consulting services at fees of one-third of those of our competitors to individuals and businesses across a wide spectrum of industries throughout the entire United States. William Brighenti is a Certified Public Accountant and Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor. For all of your accounting, auditing, bookkeeping, tax return preparation, tax planning, and QuickBooks services, please consider us: (860) 249-1323.