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3/07/2005

Secret Money in Social Security

Jeff Birnbaum in today's Washington Post discusses the secrecy surrounding the financiers of the privatization fight. Conservatives in particular are using 501(c)4s to run their guerilla networks - Progress for America, USA Next, CoMPASS, Alliance for Worker Retirement Security, Americans for Tax Reform, FreedomWorks - and 501(c)4s need not dicslose their donors.

This is a crucial argument, and one that must enter the public debate about Social Security. The Republican privatization scheme is a handout to certain businesses and industries - in fact, it must be, as otherwise coporate donors would be breaching their fiduciary duties to shareholders, since secret donations garner no public brand advantage.

More importantly, we must identify which industries are benefiting. To date, the pro-privatization camp has effectively argued that investment firms and Wall Street are not behind the push, and media coverage has generally reflected this projected ambivalence. But we can not be certain of this unlikely assertion, becuase there is no disclosure. Perhaps it's time to start a public "disclose your donors" campaign?

Remember, the people pushing for privatization have a long history of deceptive and illegal tactics. United Seniors trafficked in frightmail and PhRMA money. Derrick Max, head of AWRS and CoMPASS, while an aide to Peter Hoekstra, was notorious for impersonating a National Endowment for the Arts staffer while trying to eliminate the organization in the 90s. These are people that can not be trusted. Nothing short of full disclosure will suffice.

 

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