Billionaires Organizing Astroturf Town Hall Groups
To Demand Social Security Cuts
The so-called ”Campaign To Fix The Debt” is being run by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles and is designed to pressure Congress to enact an austerity plan that cuts Social Security and guts investments in Main Street America while lowering corporate taxes.
To pass this unpopular plan, Simpson and Bowles have amassed a massive $25 million war chest. As the Huffington Post just reported, it is likely that the group is being funded by the right-wing billionaire Pete Peterson; its steering committee includes billionaire CEOs like Honeywell’s Dave Cote.
If you sign up as a volunteer for the group, you’ll be e-mailed a “toolkit” that you’re supposed to use to engage in pro-austerity activism on behalf of the billionaires who run the group.
One of the instructions in the tool kit is to “bird dog” campaign events and town halls that feature Members of Congress. Here’s the sample questions that the campaign is asking people to dog lawmakers with. Notice that they are designed to pressure legislators to agree to cuts to Social Security and enact other devastating spending cuts:
The took kit also instructs activists to “get to the event early to hold signs or pass out literature about the debt,” and to “have somebody ready to record the answer with video, if possible.” Finally, it reminds you to “raise your hand as quickly as possible when the candidate takes questions, speak clearly and confidently!”
This bird-dogging isn’t too different from what a lot of grassroots activists do. The difference, however, is that this group is run by billionaire CEOs who are trying to cut Social Security. They know their plan is unpopular and they are trying to create a perception of a public demand for austerity by financing this astroturf movement. Lawmakers and the public should not be fooled.