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Mar 11, 2020

“According to the Bipartisan Policy Center," "a recent study by the Concord Coalition disagrees," "One review of your budget by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says." We’ve seen these seemingly benign Official Sounding sources hundreds of times—from presidential debates to 60 Minutes to countless articles in The Washington Post and The New York Times.

But what the average person can’t reasonably know is that these organizations—Bipartisan Policy Center, the Concord Coalition, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, and PR projects like “The Can Kicks Back” and “America Speaks”—are all veiled front groups for a single, far-right billionaire whose entire life mission was to privatize social security, medicare and other entitlement programs under the auspices of fighting a so-called “deficit timebomb.” For decades, a web of Pete Peterson-backed front groups—often funded in concert with other like minded billionaires—has used the faux neutrality of think tanks, institutes, and academia to launder "anti-deficit" messaging for American pundits, reporters, and politicians, entirely capturing the narrative around deficits and their alleged pending destruction of society as we know it.

This week, we explore the origins of Pete Peterson’s austerity propaganda machine, his web of influence, how he helped co-opt both conservative and liberal knowledge production, and how he and spent hundreds of millions of dollars to undermine what little liberal government the United States has left.

We are joined by David Dayen, executive editor of The American Prospect.