Dean Baker was the first to notice that a Washington Post article on the budget deficit came from the Fiscal Times, a newly-formed “news service” funded by billionaire Peter G. Peterson, who has been using his vast fortune to try to cut back and/or privatize Social Security and Medicare for the last two decades. As Baker noted in his blog “Beat the Press,” the Post’s New Year’s Eve article conveyed Peterson's budget fear-mongering view, but did not mention Peterson’s funding of the Fiscal Times and the main sources cited in the article. Baker’s discovery was picked up by other blogs, and the issue was highlighted in a New York Times piece that was published on January 5th. Baker co-signed a letter sent to the Post’s Ombudsman protesting the article, and another letter to the Chairman of the Post. After the Ombudsman printed this disappointing reply, Baker fired off another critique.
As the Senate is set to vote on a fast-track commission on the budget deficit next week, this scrutiny of Pete Peterson’s agenda and his ties to the Fiscal Times could not come at a better time.
Dean Baker’s New Book is now Available!
Dean Baker’s new book, False Profits: Recovering From the Bubble Economy is officially released today! In this sequel to Plunder and Blunder: The Rise and Fall of the Bubble Economy, Baker recounts the causes of the economic meltdown, outlines how policymakers failed to recognize the warning signs, and offers a thoughtful progressive program for rebuilding the economy and reforming the financial system. The book is available here.
And if you’re in Washington DC on January 28th, please join Dean Baker at 6:30pm for a book talk at Busboys and Poets, 2021 14th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009 (202) 387-POET (7638). For more details about this free event, click here.
CEPR’s Response to the Earthquake in Haiti
In the wake of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti, CEPR has responded by working with other organizations - such as Jubilee USA and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti - to promote the use of grants, rather than loans, from international financial institutions’ assistance to Haiti. This was prompted by news that the International Monetary Fund would require Haiti to pay back its $100 million in assistance money. CEPR staff also raised the question of why the Obama administration has not yet provided Temporary Protective Status to Haitians in the U.S., as currently there are 30,000 Haitians awaiting deportation; and CEPR has worked to put experts, independent journalists, and relief workers in contact with major media outlets. CEPR staff will lead a workshop on Haiti at a conference on January 25, 2009 organized by TransAfrica Forum. Participants will include Congressional staff and other policy makers.
Support for a Financial Speculation Tax Grows
Support continues to build for a financial speculation tax (FST). Dean Baker was one of 200 economists, including Nobel Laureate Daniel McFadden, James K. Galbraith, who signed a letter in support of the FST. Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) have introduced bills calling for the adoption of an FST. Dean Baker continues to point out the benefits of the FST, responding to criticism here and offering it as a viable solution to address the deficit in an interview on NPR’s Morning Edition. And just today, Steven Pearlstein of the Washington Post endorsed the FST.
Mark Weisbrot in Latvia
CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot just returned from Latvia, where he presented on the serious challenges facing Latvia's economy due to its overvalued currency, which is pegged to the Euro. Swedish, Austrian, and other European banks have put enormous pressure on Latvia to maintain the peg through the European Union, even though this is contributing to Latvia's worst-ever recession, and the IMF is also supporting this policy. Weisbrot's presentation immediately followed remarks by the Latvian Prime Minister, who attended the event along with most of the cabinet. While he was there, Weisbrot also had several meetings with other top policy makers and economists, and his visit was a top news story on all the major Latvian media and was covered by international media outlets as well. Weisbrot’s new column for The Guardian examines Latvia's economic problems in detail.
In Case You Missed It…
CEPR’s 10th Anniversary webcast is now available in seven (briefly annotated) parts. Originally broadcast in September of 2009 and moderated by Jane Hamsher of firedoglake, the webcast features CEPR CO-Directors Dean Baker and Mark Weisbrot in a wide-ranging discussion of CEPR’s past, present and future.
Once again, we’d like to extend our sincere appreciation to everyone who made this possible. To all of our friends, many thanks for your financial and moral support over the past ten years – we couldn’t have done it without you. We look forward to another ten years of setting the record straight…stay tuned!