New Youth Front Group Agitates for Cuts to Entitlement Programs

Salon.com reports a new “youth” front group has appeared consisting of young people who have ostensibly joined together to fight the federal debt. The group, called “The Can Kicks Back,” issued a press release November 12 announcing its creation and casting itself as a “nationwide grassroots campaign.” The Can Kicks Back gives no physical address on its website, but Salon.com reports the group shares the same address as the New America Foundation, which receives funding from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, among other foundations and big corporations. Peter Peterson is a Wall Street hedge fund billionaire who, according to Huffington Post, has “has personally contributed at least $458 million to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation to cast Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and government spending as in a state of crisis, in desperate need of dramatic cuts.”  Other prominent funders of the New America Foundation include Google, Microsoft, Nike, Merck, and Aetna insurance. Interestingly, Kick the Can’s advisory board consists mostly of older politicians like Alan Simpson, 81, former Republican senator from Wyoming, Erskine Bowles, 67, former Clinton chief of staff, Mickey Edwards, 75, former Republican congressman from Oklahoma.  Salon.com reports that this isn’t Pete Peterson’s first attempt to form an astroturf “youth group” to agitate for cutting entitlement programs. In the 1990s Peterson funded two groups, one called “Third Millennium” and another called  “Lead…or Leave,” basically to do the same thing. In fact, Jonathan Cowan, who headed up Lead…or Leave, now is on The Can Kicks Back’s advisory board. As for being a true grassroots group, there is plenty of cause to doubt that. Occupy Wall Street was a true grassroots group.  Note that it had no budget, no professional organization, no corporate or foundational funders, no national rollout and no mascots or figureheads. By contrast, TCKB clearly has tons  of funding. The group is being professionally managed by the beltway PR firm OnPoint Strategies, whose website promises a “true return on your investment,” and whose clients include none other than the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. TCKB also has enough funding for a professionally-organized, national rollout complete with press releases, media contacts and a giant can mascot called AmeriCAN. Professionally-produced mascots aren’t cheap.  TCKB did not return an email inquiry seeking more information about its funders.

Main Source: Salon.com, November 13, 2012

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