When George W. Bush took office, the national debt was $5.73 trillion. When he left, it was $10.7 trillion. That’s a difference of $4.97 trillion. In a stunning display of chutzpah and a belief that Americans will punish the current president, the Employment Policies Institute, a corporate front group led by astroturf organizer Rick Berman sent out eleven destitute Uncle Sams in New York City’s Times Square yesterday to beg for $12 trillion from taxpayers. The appearance comes one day before Congress is scheduled to begin debate on raising the debt ceiling, as the nation’s $12.3 trillion debt is coming dangerously close to the current $12.4 trillion limit.
The “Defeat the Debt” campaign aims to highlight the threat posed by Bush’s unsustainable borrowing and spending. Additionally, EPI has placed two adjoining billboards on the corner of 45th and Broadway that also feature a bedraggled Uncle Sam.
The campaign includes a national television commercial, which has aired on CNN, Fox News, and CNBC. Throughout September and November, EPI also placed 17 homeless Uncle Sams on the streets of Washington, New York City, and Chicago to beg for $12 trillion from taxpayers. In addition, EPI’s website DefeatTheDebt.com was developed in order to convince the public that the enormous federal debt is the result of their choosing Barack Obama to clean up the Bush mess.
“This campaign is all about getting people to understand the frightening reality of the massive federal debt,” said EPI Executive Director Richard Berman. “People do not realize what it will take for our country to get out from under a $12 trillion debt when the government is expected to be adding over $1 trillion in new budget deficits each year. Last year, all of the government’s tax revenue was used to cover Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and a few other entitlement programs. Funding for everything else, from the Department of Defense to the National Park Service, went onto the nation’s credit card. We’re even borrowing to pay the $500 million in daily interest payments we owe on the debt. How insane is that?”
Berman continued, “America’s current level of spending is unsustainable. The country has never before been in such a precarious financial position where we are so indebted to foreign governments. The government must defeat the debt now, or we will live to regret it.”
Ironically, a prominent supporter of corporate front groups Wal-Mart is a close economic ally of the communist Chinese government essentially assuring that groups such as Berman’s are indirectly funded by those they claim to oppose. Front groups allow corporations to oppose food and workplace safety, the right to organize and protection of the environment with maximum deniability. While many corporations openly support American values in ad campaigns they secretly fund groups to tear down those values.