at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue and on both sides of the political aisle, there are too few leaders who face the facts.That someone is David Walker, who retired on Wednesday from the GAO. But something raised a flag as I read about Walker's departure in David S. Broder's March 16 Washington Post column, "New Task for a Budget Straight-Talker." Broder quotes Walker as saying that he is leaving to lead the Peter G. Peterson Foundation which will emphasize advocacy in the business community and among the young, because others already have done
a lot of the basic research and analysis [and] the people are ahead of the politicians...but they don't know what we need to do.
Unsustainable entitlement benefits. As 78 million baby boomers retire, America's unfunded entitlement promises (i.e., Medicare and Social Security) exceed three times the annual GDP of the country.
On Friday, Mr. Peterson will unveil the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and announce his plan to allocate his newfound billions to projects that will increase public awareness of fiscal imbalances, Social Security deficits and nuclear proliferation.
And while he supports increased taxes on the wealthy (along with broad-based benefit reductions), he remains firm in his defense of the special provision for private equity partnerships despite the view of many on Wall Street, including the billionaire investor Warren Buffett, that the rate is too low.
"This is a fairness argument," said Mr. Peterson, who says that increasing the 15 percent rate for so-called carried interest, compared with ordinary tax rates of roughly double that, would force private equity companies overseas. "There are so many other partnerships, why pick on this high-growth sector?"
a youthful equivalent to the powerful lobbying group for senior citizens, AARP. Another is working with HBO on a documentary film adaptation of his book "Running on Empty," in the hope that the American public wakes up to the dangers of deficits and entitlement spending as it did to global warming after Al Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth."
- Are the figures cited in the mission statement true?
- If true, how much can be apportioned to each program?
- Are Medicare costs rising more quickly than inflation?
- How does the rate of increase compare with private health insurance?
- How much of the increase is caused by the prescription drug benefit?
- How much could growth be curbed by allowing negotiated prices currently banned?
- How much of public v.s. private insurance costs go to administration v.s payments for health care?
- Does this point to a problem that arguably could be addressed, at least in part, by single payer health care, ironically (for Mr. Peterson) creating a new "entitlement?"
- When did the language shift from benefit to entitlement?
The foundation's only contact at this point is a NYC publicist, Robert Lawson of Rubenstein Communications (email), but I'll contact hime, too, and see if he will put me in touch with Mr. Walker.