Pete Peterson’s “Fix the Debt” Astroturf Supergroup Detailed in New Online Resource at

Fix the Debt logoMadison, WI -- 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 urgent action is taken. Soon this astroturf supergroup may be coming to a state near you.

Today the Center for Media and Democracy launches a new wiki resources on the funding, leaders, partner groups and lobbyists of the Campaign to Fix the Debt, see it here at

Move over David Koch and George Soros! 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 task is a tough one.

After Mitt Romney picked famed "deficit hawk" Paul Ryan for vice-president, the two barnstormed the country warning audiences that U.S. debt and deficits were like a "prairie fire" moving ever closer to our "homes and our children." To save our kids from conflagration, America needed to rein-in out-of-control spending.

Voters sent the deficit scolds packing. Economists warned that austerity during an economic downturn was a recipe for disaster and polls consistently showed that jobs were America's top priority with the deficit trailing well down the list.

To overcome this wall of opposition, Peterson needed a new strategy. For years, he had funded think tanks, seminars, national tours, town hall meetings, TV ad campaigns, college TV, school curricula, online media and even a motion picture -- all in an effort to convince America that deficits would one day sink the economy. Now Peterson needed something bigger and better than before -- and the Campaign to Fix the Debt was born.

Pete PetersonPeterson rallied the crème de la crème of the 1% to his cause. Hiding their self-serving motives and wrapping themselves in patriotic language of "shared sacrifice," 127 CEOs have signed up to his Campaign to Fix the Debt. Accompanied by elder "statesmen" (many of whom have gone through the revolving door and have undisclosed financial ties to firms that lobby for tax loopholes and other corporate welfare that contribute to the deficit), 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."

Key to the strategy is ginning up a crisis. In lockstep, the CEOs, politicians, and partner organizations stormed the media last fall warning of the looming disaster of the so-called "fiscal cliff." Breaching the fiscal cliff "will lead to chaos," warned Erskine Bowles; "derail the fragile recovery," said Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein; generate a "shock to the financial markets and a painful return to the recession," said the CEO of Morgan Stanley.

But this chorus of calamity was pure hype. One Fix the Debt steering committee member, former Tennessee governor Phil Bredesen, let slip that the strategy was to create an "artificial crisis" that would force Congress to act.

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 the Founding Fathers would be outraged at the shenanigans of these summer soldiers and phony patriots.

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.

Erskine BowlesPlus, Fix the Debt steering commitee 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 (PDF) and share it with your local news producers and reporters every time you spot a Fix the Debt talking head.)

The reality is that the nation's budget deficit is not caused by overspending; it is largely due to the collapse of the $8 trillion housing bubble. But fear mongering over the deficit "is preventing us from giving the same boost to the economy that got us out of the Great Depression," says economist Dean Baker.

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.

New Online Resource on Campaign to 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.

This package includes:

Lisa Graves, Pete Peterson's Long History of Deficit Scaremongering, The Nation.

John Nichols, The Austerity Agenda: An Electoral Loser, The Nation.

Dean Baker, Fix the Debt's Fuzzy Math, The Nation.

Mary Bottari, Pete Peterson's Puppet Populists, The Nation.

Fix the Debt Astroturf Supergroup Portal Page

Fix the Debt's Leadership

Fix the Debt Leaders' Conflicts of Interest

Fix the Debt's Partner Groups

Fix the Debt's Lobbyists

Fix the Debt's Parent Group

Fix the Debt's Corporations

Pete Peterson

Peter G. Peterson Foundation

Social Security


and much more!


The author listed as "PRwatch Editors" is for reports attributable to CMD's editors or guest authors.


Lisa, it's a great idea to have insightful information about the Astroturf elitist group 'Fix the Debt' and to provide revealing information on Peterson and his ruling-elite cohorts by exposing their schemes under the punchy title, "PetersonPyramid" --- all of that is very instructive and constructive in and of itself. Having applauded you for that however, forming an increasingly large number of different specific 'issues' web-sites, and separately funded vehicles for addressing the constantly growing number of ruling-elite schemes may not be the best way to aggregate real action against the better-funded ruling elite. In order to attract, energize, and leverage a significant number of concerned citizens against such ruling-elite 'symptom problems' like; austerity schemes, the sequestration scam, growing gun violence, Global Warming, PR propaganda, ALEC infection of state legislatures, vast inequalities of income and wealth, drone assassinations, spying, lying, looting, wars, torture, etc., etc., etc. ---- it would make more effective use of citizen attention and action (and would certainly focus the limited funding of citizen groups) to employ a common narrative and collective theme that can be used to pull together ---- rather than separate ---- the energies, actions, funds, and efforts of as wide a base of citizens as possible against the much more wealthy, powerful, and focused aggressive forces of the ruling-elite tip of that pyramid of Empire. For example the PetersonPyramid of Empire, would reinforce rather than divide and conquer citizens' understanding, funding, truthful information, and action against the overall schemes, shocks, and attacks of the ruling-elite pyramid of Empire --- while continuing to educate, engender, and enhance the power of people against the Empire of the Elite. Lisa, I really respect, applaud, and congratulate your great efforts through The Center for Media and Democracy (and all your other sub-groups and sub-web-sties) for attacking the elitist enemy on all fronts ---- but there is some lack of 'force concentration' in having such a wide, disaggregated, stretched, and necessarily unfocused attack strategy that distributes these separate efforts. BTW, the same can be said of Amy Goodman's fine "Democracy Now" TV show, and many principled left/progressive traditional and web publications like; CommonDreams, truthdig, The Nation, Op Ed News, etc., etc., etc. --- which all try to address all the 'symptom problems' that this not fully diagnosed, understood, exposed, or revealed ruling-elite Empire causes. While such a well intended, but broad-brush and dissipated attack strategy against the common enemy of the people is certainly interesting for a minority of activists (myself included) to read daily about in a large number of web-sites, the dispersed nature of these multiple web-sites (of which The Center for Media and Democracy is a key example) spreads attention, thoughts, funding, and actions perhaps too broadly to seriously 'take-on' the focused efforts, propaganda, and funding of the ruling-elites' single Empire of deceptive effort in splitting, dividing, and conquering the honest and principled left/progressive forces. We are only held hostage by their disguised ruling-elite Empire because it is able to remain hidden, camouflaged, disguised and unrecognized --- and thus able to get away with its deceitful posing as a normal and acceptable democratic Republic --- when, in fact, it is a disguised Global EMPIRE. Merely shining light on this vampire of the ruling-elite EMPIRE will focus the combined forces of the people, breach its defensive camouflage, and will kill it in an instant!. Best luck and love to the fast expanding 'Occupy Empire' educational and revolutionary movement against this deceitful, guileful, disguised EMPIRE, which can't so easily be identified as wearing RedCoats, Red Stars, nor funny looking Nazi helmets ---- quite yet! Liberty, democracy, justice, and equality Over Violent/'Vichy' Rel 2.0 Empire, Alan MacDonald Sanford, Maine We don't merely have a gun/fear problem, or a 'Fiscal Cliff' problem, or an expanding wars problem, or a 'drone assassinations' problem, or a vast income & wealth inequality problem, or a Wall Street 'looting' problem, or a Global Warming and environmental death-spiral problem, or a domestic tyranny NDAA FISA spying problem, or, or, or, or .... ad nauseum --- we have a hidden EMPIRE cancerous tumor which is the prime CAUSE of all these 'symptom problems'.

I'd say you have it pretty covered, The End will come with the Gun registration all the rest of the gun bull is a deception just like Hitler and Stalin all they want is to kill anyone who is a rebel under the guise of terrorism (The most abused word of our time!) Once they get that passed they won't need anything else to confiscate them turning us into China or Russia or Mexico, Destroying the middle class and anyone who enjoys free speach is where their headed, It will start a revolution that they believe they can control with the drones and what have you. The free world is on the edge not just us! Boiling Frogs using Stockholm syndrome physiology they us outrageous bills to scare us when their #1 goal is "Universal Background checks" sounds innocent enough until you do a little investigating....East India ad for jobs in United States "No Experience necessary" The persons job your taking will be forced to train you! Bill Gates at hearing we need the brightest and best! What Crap just ask any Microsoft, Honeywell, Blue cross people who can't find a job at McDonald's, Other non English people have those, So this is being sold as Immigration reform! We are all getting an education eh!

Excellent comment. You really incitefully zoomed in on the underlying cause of the symptomatic problems we are having.