Pete Peterson’s “Fix the Debt” Astroturf Supergroup Poised to Exploit Sequester Debate to Advance Austerity Agenda
By Mel Fabrikant Saturday, February 23, 2013, 07:25 PM EST
New Online Resource on the Funding, the Leaders, the Astroturf Partner Groups, and More from the Publishers of ALECexposed.org. One of the most hypocritical corporate PR campaigns in decades is advancing inside the beltway, attempting to convince the White House, Congress, and the American people that another cataclysmic economic crisis is around the corner that will destroy our economy unless drastic action is taken.
The effort is being bankrolled by one of the wealthiest men in the nation. Peter G. Peterson made a fortune at the Blackstone Group on Wall Street. He conveniently cashed out with $2 billion shortly before the 2008 financial meltdown and now has pledged to spend $1 billion of that payout to convince Americans -- who overwhelmingly want to keep and strengthen Social Security and Medicare -- that these programs threaten our very existence as a nation.
His latest incarnation is the Campaign to Fix the Debt which was announced on the Peter G. Peterson Foundation website in July 2012. At least a 127 CEOs have signed up to the campaign some kicking in $1 million each. Accompanied by elder “statesmen” (many of whom have undisclosed financial ties to firms that lobby on deficit-related issues), plus four PR firms, 80 full-time staff members, 23 phony state chapters, and a raft of Peterson-funded “partner organization,” Fix the Debt has targeted a budget of $60 million in "the first phase” of the project.
Campaign Moves Outside the Beltway to at Least 23 States
Phase two is now underway. Soon this astroturf supergroup may be coming to a state near you. Fix the Debt has launched 23 state chapters and plans to deploy staff to these states in campaign that “increasingly resembles a presidential race, with grassroots-style organizing and offices in places like New Hampshire, Ohio, Florida and Michigan,” says Fortune magazine.
Their goal is to achieve a Simpson-Bowles style “grand bargain” on an austerity agenda for the United States by the nation’s 237th birthday on July 4, 2013.
But many Fix the Debt firms pay a very low or even a negative average tax rate, contributing to the nation's deficit. Fix the Debt is secretly pushing for a major tax break that would exempt profits earned overseas by U.S. firms from taxation and encourage the offshoring of U.S. jobs. While the Fix the Debt CEOs call for cuts to Social Security, many of the publicly-traded Fix the Debt firms underfund their employee pension plans -- making their workers even more dependent on the popular social insurance plan that American workers pay into with each paycheck. Documentation, charts and further resources available on our Fix the Debt Main Page here.
Fix the Debt steering committee members have extensive ties to corporations lobbying to preserve dozens of costly tax breaks (such as the "carried interest loophole" that made Pete Peterson a rich man) that are not disclosed in their Fix the Debt bios. Click here to see a chart of these conflicts.
At least 90 state leaders are lobbyists. This too is generally not disclosed. See a chart of state leaders and lobbyists here.
New Online Resource on Campaign to Fix the Debt
The Center for Media and Democracy tracks the PR industry, front groups, and corporate spin. We launched the award-winning ALECexposed investigation in 2011. Rarely have we seen such a well-financed astroturf supergroup as Fix the Debt.
Today, CMD is pleased to unveil -- in partnership with The Nation -- a new resource on the Campaign to Fix the Debt, for the public and the media, that exposes the leaders, the Peterson-funded partners, the phony state chapters, the lobbyists and the stunt men (who convinced Alan Simpson to dance Gangnam Style) behind this massive PR effort.
Fix the Debt Astroturf Youth Group "The Can Kicks Back"