Peter J. Ferrara (born 1955) is an American lawyer, policy analyst, and columnist who is the current general counsel for the American Civil Rights Union and analyst for The Heartland Institute. A libertarian scholar, he is most well known for supporting privatization of the Social Security program.
Early life and education
A 2005 profile for the Harvard Law Bulletin reported that Ferrara recalled at age nine "being transfixed while watching television as Barry Goldwater stormed the 1964 Republican National Convention." Ferrara grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and graduated in 1976 from Harvard College with an A.B. in economics magna cum laude and from Harvard Law School in 1979 cum laude. At Harvard, Ferrara wrote at the student newspaper The Harvard Crimson. While in law school, he also participated in the Harvard Libertarian Association. Future Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts attended both Harvard College and Law School with Ferrara.
His senior law school thesis evolved into the debut hardcover publication by the libertarian Cato Institute in 1980, Social Security: The Inherent Contradiction. From 1981 to 1983, Ferrara served in the White House Office of Policy Development under President Ronald Reagan and was an Associate Deputy Attorney General from 1991 to 1993. Between those positions, Ferrara became a Heritage Foundation analyst specializing in Social Security issues. He also became an insurance consultant and provided expertise in Social Security to media. In 1987, Ferrara joined the faculty of the George Mason University School of Law and directed its legal writing programs until 1991. As late as 2003, Ferrara has taught there.
Ferrara took money from erstwhile lobbyist Jack Abramoff to write op-ed pieces favorable to Abramoff clients. (Ferrara did not disclose which pieces he was paid to write, but Business Week noted that he wrote favorable articles in the Washington Times about the Northern Marianas Islands and the Choctaw Indian tribe, both Abramoff clients.) Ferrara argued those writings were entirely consistent with his independently held views, remained unrepentant, and intended to pursue the practice in the future: "I do that all the time. I've done that in the past, and I'll do it in the future."
Ferrara was a senior policy adviser at the conservative Institute for Policy Innovation. In April 2011, Ferrara became senior fellow for entitlement and budget policy at The Heartland Institute. Concurrently, he serves as general counsel for the American Civil Rights Union and policy director of the Carleson Center for Public Policy.
Ferrara's articles have been published in such outlets as National Review, The Washington Times, The American Spectator, and FoxNews.com. He is a regular guest on the Thom Hartmann radio program.
In 1987, The New York Times published an op-ed by Ferrara in which he advocated capping the Social Security payroll tax. The newspaper also interviewed Ferrara that year about a proposal by Secretary of Health and Human Services Otis R. Bowen to expand Medicare; Ferrara criticized the program for "a lot of gaps in medical coverage for the elderly" and found "no basis for just expanding Medicare to take over coverage that private sector provides now." The George W. Bush administration championed Ferrara's plan to privatize Social Security.
National Review magazine published his essay "What Is An American?" in its September 25, 2001 issue, after the September 11 attacks. In the essay, he claims that "there are more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan", although census numbers show Afghanistan has roughly ten to fifteen times as many Muslims as the United States. The essay was reproduced in a chain e-mail claiming that an Australian dentist wrote it. Ferrara, reflecting on that essay in 2007, still stood by it and supported "more selective immigration so that the U.S. gets a 'better-educated class of Mexican immigrants.'"
- America's Ticking Bankruptcy Bomb (2011)
- Stop the Raid: Social Security the Biggest Rip Off in History (with Denison Smith) (2008)
- Common Cents, Common Dreams: A layman's guide to social security privatization (ISBN 1882577760) (September 1999)
- The Choctaw Revolution: Lessons for Federal Indian Policy (ISBN 096658340X) (September 1, 1998)
- Religion and the Constitution: A reinterpretation (1983)
- Social Security: The Inherent Contradiction (1980)
- Birnbaum, Jeffrey H. (February 22, 2005). "Private-Account Concept Grew From Obscure Roots". The Washington Post. p. A1. "Twenty-five years ago, Peter J. Ferrara was a Harvard Law School student with what he called "the craziest idea in the world." In a paper he wrote before graduating, he suggested converting the government-run Social Security program into a web of private investments...the proposal by the 24-year-old Ferrara began an improbable journey from the fringes of public policy into the mainstream." Ferrara graduated from the law school in 1979, according to his ACRU biography
- Stern, Seth (Summer 2005). "26 Years Later". Harvard Law Bulletin. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
- "ACRU Experts". American Civil Rights Union. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
- Scott, Janny (August 21, 2005). "Roberts's Harvard Roots: A Movement Was Stirring". The New York Times. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
- "Peter Ferrara Named Senior Fellow by The Heartland Institute". Heartland Institute. Retrieved September 4, 2011.
- "Peter J. Ferrara". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
- Berry, William J.; Davis, Lisa E. (April 11, 1978). "Psychiatrist Szasz Contends Mental Illness Does not Exist". The Harvard Crimson.
- "Reagan criticized on Social Security". The New York Times. July 8, 1984. pp. A1. Retrieved July 15, 2011 via LexisNexis Academic.
- "Agency asking U.S. care in 'catastrophic' ills". The New York Times. November 2, 1986. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
- Pear, Robert (January 29, 1986). "Social Security to repay loan early". The New York Times. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
- Pear, Robert (February 9, 1986). "Chipping Away at the Idea of 'Entitlement'". The New York Times. p. D4. Retrieved July 15, 2011 via LexisNexis Academic.
- "Law Faculty Directory: Peter Ferrara". George Mason University School of Law. Archived from the original on December 12, 2000.
- Peter Ferrara: What Is An American? National Review online, September 25, 2001.
- Ferrara, Peter (May 20, 2003). "The Tax-Cut Critics". National Review. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
- Javers, Eamon (December 16, 2005). "Op-Eds for Sale". Business Week. Retrieved July 14, 2009. "...he doesn't see a conflict of interest in taking undisclosed money to write op-ed pieces because his columns never violated his ideological principles."
- Ferrara, Peter (November 4, 2003). "Unleash the new TV". The Washington Times. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
- Ferrara, Peter (April 5, 2009). "FERRARA: Rush’s fans have rights, too". The Washington Times. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
- Ferrera, Peter: Contributors: Peter Ferrara. Accessed February 11, 2013.
- FoxNews.com: Peter Ferrara archive.
- Peter Ferrara search on the Thom Hartmann YouTube channel
- Ferrara, Peter J. (January 25, 1987). "Business Forum: Scaling back hikes in Social Security; Put a Permanent Lid on Payroll Taxes". The New York Times. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
- Pear, Robert (February 1, 1987). "Health care debate: How to pay for extended coverage; Congress takes on catastrophic illness issue". The New York Times. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
- "Muslim Population by Country". The Future of the Global Muslim Population. Pew Research Center. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
- "What Is An American?". snopes.com. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
- Ramage, Stephanie (July 13, 2007). "What is an American? Immigration debate reveals patriotism—and nationalism". The Sunday Paper (Atlanta, Georgia). Archived from the original on January 9, 2009.
- "Peter J. Ferrara". SourceWatch (Madison, Wisconsin: Center for Media and Democracy). 11 August 2008. Retrieved 2009-07-14.