Michael Hiltzik

Fix the Debt reaches out on Twitter, gets massively trolled

To the chronicles of misbegotten corporate adventures with social media, we can add a new, sterling event.

The anti-deficit lobbying organization Fix the Debt staged a question-and-answer chat on Twitter Thursday. Its goal presumably was to reach America's smartphone-savvy youth with its message that Social Security and Medicare payments to their grandparents are going to land them in the poorhouse a few decades from now. 

It's fair to say that Fix the Debt got more than it bargained for. Twitterers from all over responded to the invitation with pointed, tactless and downright impolite questions. Many of them aimed to discern how paring social insurance benefits for the elderly and infirm will make society stronger, which is the core of the organization's worldview. Those so inclined can still post their thoughts at #fixthedebtqa.

Among the choicer comments: "Can you explain why anyone chooses to be born poor? Why should the rest of us be responsible for their flawed decision-making?" (That's from Twitter user @jefftiedrich.) 

A couple of good roundups of the dialogue thus far can be found at the Washington Post's Know More site and at Liberaland.

You may wish to know a bit more about Fix the Debt. As we wrote last week, it's supposedly a bipartisan pressure group, but its leadership is heavily stocked from the potentate wing of both parties -- listed as its Democratic co-founder is Erskine Bowles, a director of the investment bank Morgan Stanley.

It's an arm of the Committee for a Responsible Budget, which is funded by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. Peterson is an influential billionaire whose distaste for Social Security and Medicare as they exist today is a byword, as we reported last year. Michael Peterson, his son, is on Fix the Debt's steering committee. 

Reach me at @hiltzikm on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or by email. MORE FROM MICHAEL HILTZIK

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