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Portal:Fix the Debt/Pete Peterson

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Pete Peterson at National Press Club July 17, 2012 (Source: Lingjing Bao, Talk Radio News)

Move over, David Koch and George Soros! Pete Peterson is "the most influential billionaire in America," says the LA Times.

Peter G. Peterson has long used his wealth to underwrite numerous organizations and PR campaigns to generate public support for slashing Social Security and Medicare, citing concerns over "unsustainable" federal budget deficits. Full of apocalyptic warnings, Peterson failed to warn of the $8 trillion housing bubble, but conveniently sold his private equity firm Blackstone Group on the eve of the financial crisis. He later pledged to spend $1 billion of the money from the sale to "fix America's key fiscal-sustainability problems," launching the Peter G. Peterson Foundation in 2008.[1] As of 2011, the Huffington Post reported that Peterson had personally given $458 million to the Foundation.[2]

Peterson told the Washington Post that he gave Fix the Debt $5 million in funding;[3] Fix the Debt was announced on the Peterson Foundation website[4] and Peterson appeared at the Fix the Debt launch in July 2012.[5] Peterson also funds Fix the Debt parent organization Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget at the New America Foundation. Even before the 2012 Campaign to Fix the Debt, Peterson poured millions into a multifaceted effort to support the Simpson-Bowles Commission and its $4 trillion austerity package, a plan that would cost the nation four million jobs, according to the Economic Policy Institute,[6] and "destroy Social Security as we know it," according to Social Security Works.[7] He bankrolled nineteen "America Speaks" Town Hall meetings, which spectacularly backfired, launched the "OweNo" TV ad campaign, and funded the Concord Coalition’s Fiscal Solutions tour to take the message to the heartland. When the commission blew up -- failing to get the votes needed to advance a plan to Congress -- Peterson gave Bowles and Simpson a new perch at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget to allow them to continue to scold Congress. Learn more about Pete Peterson in "Peterson's Long History of Deficit Scaremongering" in The Nation.

  1. Peter G. Peterson, Why I’m Giving Away $1 Billion, The Daily Beast, May 29, 2009.
  2. Ryan Grim and Paul Blumenthal, Peter Peterson Spent Nearly Half A Billion In Washington Targeting Social Security, Medicare, Huffington Post, May 15, 2012.
  3. Suzy Khimm, How Fix the Debt is coping with its 'fiscal cliff' setback, Washington Post, January 11, 2013.
  4. Peter G. Peterson Foundation, Civic Leaders, CEOs and Budget Experts Gather to Announce Launch of The Campaign to Fix the Debt, organizational website under "Projects and Grants," July 17, 2012.
  5. New America Foundation, Launch of the Fix the Debt Campaign: July 17th, 2012 - National Press Club, youtube page, July 19, 2012.
  6. Josh Bivens and Andrew Fieldhouse, Fiscal commissioners' proposal would cost millions of jobs, Economic Policy Institute, November 16, 2010.
  7. Social Security Works, No Drastic Changes to Social Security, The Olympian op-ed, September 25, 2009.