RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Black writes : "Third Way, lobbyists for and from Wall Street who are leading the effort to enrich Wall Street by privatizing Social Security, was created by Wall Street to fool some of the people all of the time."

Judy Moses, 71, prepares to be arrested during an Occupy Chicago protest against cuts to federal safety net programs, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. (photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Judy Moses, 71, prepares to be arrested during an Occupy Chicago protest against cuts to federal safety net programs, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. (photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Wall Street Uses 'Liberal' Front Group to Lead Its Assault on Social Security

By William K. Black, Reader Supported News

14 November 12


hird Way, lobbyists for and from Wall Street who are leading the effort to enrich Wall Street by privatizing Social Security, was created by Wall Street to fool some of the people all of the time. I have written previously to expose their fictional claims to be a moderate or liberal Democratic group.

Eric Lautner documented Wall Street's effort to become even wealthier by privatizing Social Security in articles and his recent book (The People's Pension: The Struggle to Defend Social Security Since Reagan (AK Press)).

I showed that Third Way makes itself useful by providing a faux "liberal" or "moderate" "Democratic" quote machine that can be used to discredit Democrats and Democratic policies such as the safety net. I gave examples of how Third Way gave aid and comfort to the effort to defeat Elizabeth Warren and the effort to unravel the safety net. Third Way continues to prove that you can fool some of the people all of the time.

The National Journal ran an article on November 8, 2012 entitled "Left Divided over 'Grand Bargain.'"

"Groups concerned with protecting entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare are finding themselves at odds over whether an overarching fiscal deal during Congress's end-of-year session would help or hurt their cause.

The AFL-CIO organized a day of action on Thursday--part of a broader post-election campaign to protect entitlements--with dozens of events scheduled nationwide to urge lawmakers to avoid such a deal.

A 'grand bargain' to prevent the year-end onset of tax hikes and spending cuts 'could cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits, all to give tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans,' the labor group argued on its organizing site. But the union campaign is being met with resistance from others on the left.

'We, like you, are ecstatic about the reelection of President Barack Obama and what it means or American growth and prosperity,' wrote Jim Kessler, senior vice president for policy for Third Way, a liberal think tank with a centrist approach, in an open letter to the groups involved with the day of action. 'However, as fellow progressives, we were disappointed to learn that you will be leading an effort against the President to impede a balanced grand bargain.'

In order to protect safety-net programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, the left must embrace reform, Kessler writes."

Let me attempt again to make the basic facts clear. Third Way is not a "liberal think tank." It does not take "a centrist approach." It is not run by "fellow progressives." It is not concerned with "protecting entitlements." It is not even a "think tank." Third Way is a creature of Wall Street. It's version of "protecting" the safety net was made infamous during the Tet offensive in Vietnam when the American officer explained that "it became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it."

Third Way is the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party, which seeks to defeat Democratic candidates like Elizabeth Warren running against Wall Street sycophants like Senator Scott Brown and seeks to unravel the safety net programs that are the crown jewels of the Democratic Party. Wall Street's "natural" party is certainly the Republican Party, but Wall Street has no permanent party or ideology, only permanent interests. Third Way serves its financial interests and the personal interests of its senior executives. Wall Street has always been the enemy of Social Security and its greatest dream is to privatize Social Security. Wall Street's senior executives live in terror of being held accountable under the criminal laws for their crimes. They became wealthy by leading the "control frauds" that drove the financial crisis and the Great Recession. This is why Wall Street made defeating Warren a top priority.

Third Way is run by a man who Lautner terms an "acolyte" of Pete Peterson. Peterson is a Republican, Wall Street billionaire who has two priorities -- imposing austerity on America and privatizing Social Security. Privatizing Social Security is Wall Street's unholy grail. They would receive hundreds of billions of dollars in fees and ensure that their firms were not only "too big to fail," but "too big to criticize" if they could profit from a privatized retirement system. (We do not know who funds Third Way because it refuses to make its donors public. Given who dominates its Board of Trustees, however, the donors must be overwhelmingly from Wall Street.)

Third Way's self-description has some elements of honesty, admitting that it is "led by a prominent private sector Board of Trustees, drawn from finance, industry, academia, the non-profit sector and government." The order is revealing -- the board is dominated by finance, with a thin veneer provided by industry, and with the barest patina of "academics" and "government."

Here are key excerpts from their web site identifying their board.

John L. Vogelstein

Mr. Vogelstein is the Chairman of New Providence Asset Management, LLC and Senior Advisor to Warburg Pincus, LLC. [He co-managed that huge private equity firm.]

Bernard L. Schwartz

Mr. Schwartz is Chairman and CEO of BLS Investments, LLC.

David Heller

Mr. Heller ... was ... the Global Head of Equity Trading for Goldman Sachs.

Georgette Bennett

Dr. Bennett--an award-winning sociologist, criminologist, and journalist.... [Yeah criminologists!]

William D. Budinger

William D. "Bill" Budinger is the founder of Rodel, Inc., where he served for 33 years as its chairman and CEO. [Rodel manufactured semi-conductors.]

David A. Coulter

Mr. Coulter serves as Managing Director and Senior Advisor at Warburg Pincus, focusing on the firm's financial services practice.

Mr. Coulter retired in September 2005 as vice chairman of J.P. Morgan & Chase Co. He previously served as Executive Chairman of its investment bank, asset and wealth management, and private equity business.

Jonathan Cowan

Prior to co-founding Third Way, Mr. Cowan founded and ran Americans for Gun Safety.... In 1992, he co-founded Lead...or Leave, which became the nation's leading Generation X advocacy group. [He lobbied to protect "second amendment rights" to bear arms and led a Pete Peterson inspired group urging "Gen X" members to unravel the safety net.]

Lewis Cullman

Mr. Cullman was the Founder and President of Cullman Ventures, Inc., a diversified corporation that included the At-A-Glance group, which manufactures and markets diaries....

William M. Daley

William Daley served as President Obama's Chief of Staff from January 2011 until January 2012.

Prior to his Chief of Staff role, he was Vice Chairman ... of ... JPMorgan Chase, from 2004 until 2011.

As Special Counsel to President Clinton in 1993, Daley coordinated the successful campaign to pass the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

He was co-chair of the US Chamber of Commerce Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness. [This is code for deregulation of finance.]

John Dyson

Mr. Dyson is Chairman of Millbrook Capital Management, Inc. (MCM), a private investment firm.

Robert Dyson

Mr. Dyson ... is Chairman and CEO of the Dyson-Kissner-Moran Corp., a privately owned, diversified investment holding company....

Andrew Feldstein

Andrew Feldstein is the CEO and Chief Investment Officer of BlueMountain Capital Management....

Prior to co-founding BlueMountain in 2003, Mr. Feldstein spent over a decade at JPMorgan where he was a Managing Director and served as Head of Structured Credit; Head of High Yield Sales, Trading and Research; and Head of Global Credit Portfolio. ["High yield" is a euphemism for junk bonds.]

Brian Frank

Mr. Frank is a Director and Portfolio Manager at MSD Capital, L.P., the private investment firm founded by Michael Dell.

Michael B. Goldberg

Mr. Goldberg joined Kelso & Company in 1991 as a Partner and Managing Director. [Private equity.]

Peter A. Joseph

Mr. Joseph has been in the private equity investment business for over twenty years....

Derek Kaufman

Derek Kaufman is Head of Global Fixed Income at Citadel LLC. He is a member of Citadel's Portfolio Committee.

Prior to joining Citadel in 2008, Mr. Kaufman was a Managing Director at JPMorgan Chase....

Derek Kirkland

Mr. Kirkland is a Managing Director and Co-Head of the Global Financial Institutions Group at Morgan Stanley's Financial Institutions Group in Investment Banking.

Ronald A. Klain

Ronald A. "Ron" Klain is President of Case Holdings, and General Counsel of Revolution LLC. [Case is an investment fund for the holdings of AOL's founder.]

Thurgood Marshall, Jr.

Mr. Marshall is a partner at Bingham McCutchen LLP, and a Principal of Bingham Consulting Group. Mr. Marshall counsels and devises strategies for advancing clients' interests before Congress, the executive branch and independent regulatory agencies. [He is a lobbyist for a firm best known for representing financial firms.]

Susan McCue

Ms. McCue is President of Message-Global, LLC, a strategic communications and public affairs firm she founded in January 2008 to advance progressive campaigns, activism and issue advocacy in the U.S. and globally.

Herbert Miller

Mr. Miller, former CEO and Chairman of The Mills Corporation, one of America's most innovative and successful mall developers and managers, founded Western Development Corporation (WDC) in 1967 and serves as its Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Principal Stockholder.

Michael Novogratz

Mr. Novogratz has been President and Director of Fortress Investment Group LLC..... Prior to joining Fortress, Mr. Novogratz spent 11 years at Goldman Sachs....

Andrew Parmentier

Mr. Parmentier is a Founding and Managing Partner of Height Analytics. He and fellow Managing Partner John Akridge formed the company in January 2009. He has worked in the financial services industry since 1997....

Kirk Radke

Recognized internationally as one of the top private equity attorneys during his 28 year career at Kirkland & Ellis....

Among professional activities, Mr. Radke is Co-Chair & Organizer of the International Bar Association Private Equity Symposium, Founder of the Private Equity General Counsel Network, Founder of Legal Series and Co-Founder of the Private Equity Law Firm Roundtable.

Howard Rossman

Dr. Rossman is a President and Founder of Mesirow Advanced Strategies, Inc. and a Vice Chairman of its parent, Mesirow Financial Holdings Inc. He is responsible for all aspects of fund management, including manager due diligence, strategy analysis and asset allocation.

Tim Sweeney

Mr. Sweeney has been President and CEO of the Denver-based Gill Foundation since October 2007. For more than 30 years, he has worked to advance equality for all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression.

Ted Trimpa

Mr. Trimpa is a partner with the international law firm, Hogan Lovells LLP.

Barbara Manfrey Vogelstein

She has over 24 years of experience in venture capital and specialized equity investing. [S]he was a Partner of Warburg Pincus, one of the world's largest private equity firms.

Joseph Zimlich

Mr. Zimlich is the Chief Executive Officer of Bohemian Companies, a group of family-owned real estate and private equity holdings.

Twenty of the twenty-nine trustees come from finance (counting the lawyer whose specialty is representing private equity firms). Their most common background is Mitt Romney's -- private equity -- and hedge funds. The nine non-finance members include:

  • A Pete Peterson acolyte who previously created supposedly centrist front groups for gun rights and an effort to enlist "Gen X" in Wall Street's assault on the safety net

  • A developer of giant malls

  • A semi-conductor manufacturer

  • A manufacturer of diaries

  • A criminologist/journalist

  • A PR specialist

  • A gay rights activist

  • A lobbyist at a firm best known for representing finance

  • A lawyer

The board includes three representatives of "main street" (malls, semi-conductors, and diaries). They are not heavy hitters compared to the finance representatives. On finance issues, Third Way is Wall Street. It is run by Wall Street for Wall Street. It is liberal only on social issues such as gay rights -- and Wall Street created Third Way to focus on finance.

I have explained in other articles the incoherence and ineptitude of the financial policies that Third Way (including Casey, who temporarily left Third Way's board to serve as President Obama's chief of staff, where he urged Obama to adopt austerity and the Great Betrayal. I have explained how those policies would have thrown the nation back into recession and doomed Obama's chance for re-election. Third Way has learned nothing from their errors -- they continue to push the Great Betrayal and austerity. Their overriding goal is to begin the process of privatizing Social Security. The fact that their policies would cause a gratuitous recession, immense misery, and terrible electoral losses to Democrats does not represent a policy failure to Wall Street. Wall Street would be the grand winner if we began to privatize Social Security as Third Way proposes.

The "left" is not divided on the need to oppose austerity and the Great Betrayal. Third Way is not left or center or even right. It is Wall Street on the Potomac. Opposition to austerity and the Great Betrayal is not a left v. center issue. Wall Street's proposed financial policies are terrible for virtually all Americans. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+18 # RnR 2012-11-14 18:42
There is no honor among thieves
+20 # dovelane1 2012-11-14 19:31
Bain capitol / Romney attitude was "Screw you. I got mine." This appears to be more of the same.

What's good for Gm, Bain, Wall Street, and so on is good for (1% of) the USA.

I aloready sent the first article to one of my senators. The other one gets it tonight, as do the rest of my representatives .
+17 # dovelane1 2012-11-14 19:37
Am I mistaken, or is the Third Way board of trustees mostly white and male? Was it one black and two females out of 29 board members?

It's been written that the person who can see both sides of an issue, usually has no money in either side. The more money involved, the more they will take their financial side of the issue.
+24 # Rick Levy 2012-11-14 23:22
The Third Wave deserves the Second Finger.
+7 # fishermanjohn 2012-11-15 00:38
It seems that their board lacks the perspective of anyone who is actually going to need Social Security in their retirement. The whole "privatize Social Security" scam is so obvious. The money in the trust fund, mostly paid in by working people, has been borrowed by the government to keep taxes low for the wealthy. Now that social security must start paying out more than it is taking in, the difference must be made up from income taxes, mostly paid by the wealthy. Suddenly we are hearing that Social Security is "broken". No it isn't, the wealthy just don't want to pay back the money they have been essentially borrowing from working people all these years. Now they want to "privatize" working people's retirement savings, so they can steal it without going through the government middle man.
+2 # RMDC 2012-11-15 04:30
This is very good and right on the mark. Don't froget that the concept of "Third Way" politics was a creation of Anthony Giddons of the London School of Economics. It was the political strategy that brought Clinton and Blair to power after the hard right, pro-business regimes of Reagan and Thatcher. Basically it advised liberal politicians to adopt the policies of the hard right with a softer rhetoric in order to capture political power and financial support of global banks and their lobbyests.

Obama is a creation of Bill Clinton's Third Way. Obama has a much greater potential for destroying social security and medicare than Flipper Romney would have because he will sell it as a "reform" of the US national pension system and socialized medicine for the elderly and poor.

Everyone would have seen clearly that Romney was out to enrich himself and his billionaire buddies. But Third Way politicians say that they are liberals but in reality they do the work of the military-indust rial-banking complex. Clinton destroyed welfare in exactly this way.

The "reform" or really as Bill Black says the privitization of social security and medicare just may be the main reason Obama was put back in office by campaign contribution from big banks.
+3 # readerz 2012-11-15 15:35
I was scared and disgusted when Obama said in his press conference that he wanted to get some ideas from Romney. What about those who made contributions, organized, and voted for Obama?

Almost luckily, Romney bit back saying that Obama bought African-America n votes. I hope that Obama gets the message that Romney can't be trusted.
+6 # wwway 2012-11-15 09:13
There will always be groups with the purpose of destroying Social Security and the easiest way for all of us to recognize what's happening is watch what's being proposed. Raising the eligiable age instead of lifing the income cap on contributions is one clue that there is little sincerety with regards to the intent to save Social Security for future generations. Democrats are just as guilty as Republicans.
Many baby boomers can't retire at at 65. They have to retire at 66 1/2. Many babyboomers are laid off at age 55 and spend their life savings surviving while looking for work while the clock ticks to 66 1/2.
In spite of what the wealthy and those middle class persons who have taken up their cause we ALL work hard and do not deserve to have our life savings disapear in financial schemes to line the pockets of the rich.
This election has given me hope that Americans are starting to wake up. A middle class person who takes up the cause and arguments of the rich is a Chicken for Col. Sanders.
It really is time for Americans to insist on the only solution to SS solvency. Eliminate the income cap on contributions.
0 # readerz 2012-11-15 15:31
Another thing brought to you by big oil and coal: big pollution and cancer.

Sorry for this rant, but: I am a baby boomer, and my husband has cancer. He is only 57. If he gets more sick, I will have to (somehow) scramble to find a job and still take care of him, because we need the medical insurance. If after a year of not working (and getting COBRA somehow, if I can afford to pay for it) he gets Medicare, I will still have to work to be able to support myself until I reach 66 (or whatever it is), and pay for my own medical insurance. If I become a widow, same thing, although I won't be caregiving at the same time. Either way, it really sucks. This "66" or "65" age assumes that there will be some years after "retirement," but in our case, my husband has very little chance of that, and he paid in every year he worked, which is continuously since college. Meanwhile, I have my own health problems, and no matter what age I live to, it is a heck of a time to be out looking for work, especially when my husband won't even get to cash in on it. There is an outside chance that he will get better somehow; we haven't given up yet, but the treatments are expensive and stressful enough without knowing that our benefits are so limited.
+5 # tswhiskers 2012-11-15 09:45
Thank you for pulling the sheepskin off the wolf. I cannot understand how someone can be eternally greedy. These people have millions and billions and are still not satisfied. Which brings to mind the thought that whatever it is they want, maybe it isn't really money. But I digress. RSN, please continue to keep us informed as to the machinations and filthy plots of the filthy rich. Most of us are ignorant of the real worldview of the Romneys and the Kochs et al. and always in need of reminding. Thanks again.
+4 # Vardoz 2012-11-15 10:38
Ronald Reagan prounced that Social Security and Medicare have nothing to do with the national deficit! The rich, sold out reps, Wall St and Banks got us to this awful place- The place where greed is good, they world of no regulations or safety nets. The world of staying rich at all costs to everything. These ae the people who are telling us we must put our entitlements, that we paid for ont he table. AND WE SHOULD JUST SAY NO.
0 # readerz 2012-11-15 15:23
People should see the movie "Wall Street" again. There was an old guy in the theater in front of me, when Michael Douglas (as Gordon Gecko) did the "Greed is good" speech who was nodding yes, but by the end of the movie, when the actual job place was being turned into condos, the old guy in front of me was really impressed that greed is not good.

Now all the old folks are watching Fox or movies like 2016. Michael Moore wants a break, sure, but we need a number of new movies, semi-fictional and documentaries, that tell people these truths.

Sen. D. Patrick Moynihan proved that Social Security is fine; but the fund has been raided for Haliburton's private spending money in the Bushs' years.
+3 # reiverpacific 2012-11-15 11:54
Funny how those who produce nothing get paid the most and assume power by usurpation of the posts, especially of "Advisors" or "Consultants" which should be occupied by those who are more generally productive.
THEY should be the ones occupying the prison-industri al-complex they so happily invest in and work hard at privatizing, rather than some poor shmo's who have done a little weed.
+1 # readerz 2012-11-15 14:59
We are still out of breath after the election, and our money will be tight, but these billionaires and millionaires can mount a campaign. It is especially suspicious that it is soon after the election, when people who are not rich are still recovering.

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.