Comeback America Initiative

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Learn more about Pete Peterson-funded astroturf projects at the Fix the Debt Portal.

The Comeback America Initiative, Inc. (CAI) is a 501(c)(3) founded in 2010 by David M. Walker, who was the first President and CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation (see below for more) as well as former Comptroller General of the United States. The Peterson Foundation is a major financial backer of CAI, having granted the organization $3,100,000 in fiscal year 2011 to support a three year initiative to address federal fiscal issues.[1] CAI's Paul Volcker, Alice Rivlin, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Alan Greenspan, Maya MacGuineas. C. Eugene Stuerle, and Robert D. Reischauer all have known ties to Peterson.[2] CAI is also a partner organization in the Fix the Debt Campaign.[3] The organization describes itself as "non-partisan" with the mission to "promote fiscal responsibility and sustainability by engaging the public and assisting key policymakers on a non-partisan basis in order to achieve solutions to America's fiscal imbalances."[4]

The group lists its areas of focus as federal fiscal issues, national fiscal challenges, and select state and local reform initiatives.[4]

Ties to Pete Peterson's "Fix the Debt"

The Campaign to Fix the Debt is the latest incarnation of a decades-long effort by former Nixon man turned Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson to slash earned benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare, and Medicaid under the guise of fixing the nation's "debt problem."

The Comeback America Initiative is a partner organization in the Fix the Debt Campaign.[5]

In fiscal year 2011, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation granted CAI $3,100,000 to support a three year initiative to address federal fiscal issues.[6] This grant funds most of CAI's "normal ongoing operations."[7]

Paul Volcker, Alice Rivlin, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Alan Greenspan, Maya MacGuineas. C. Eugene Stuerle, and Robert D. Reischauer all have known ties to Peter Peterson.[8]

This article is part of the Center for Media and Democracy's investigation of Pete Peterson's Campaign to "Fix the Debt." Please visit our main SourceWatch page on Fix the Debt.

About Fix the Debt
The Campaign to Fix the Debt is the latest incarnation of a decades-long effort by former Nixon man turned Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson to slash earned benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare under the guise of fixing the nation's "debt problem." Through a special report and new interactive wiki resource, the Center for Media and Democracy -- in partnership with the Nation magazine -- exposes the funding, the leaders, the partner groups, and the phony state "chapters" of this astroturf supergroup. Learn more at PetersonPyramid.org and in the Nation magazine.


Activities

$10 Million A Minute Bus Tour

10MillionBus.jpg

In the months leading up to the 2012 presidential election, Fix the Debt partner the Comeback America Initiative (CAI) launched the "$10 Million A Minute Bus Tour," featuring former Comptroller General of the United States and former head of the Peter G. Peterson foundation, David M. Walker. Although the Peterson Foundation bankrolls CAI to the tune of $3 million, Walker took umbrage when U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders accused him of carrying water for Pete Peterson and other millionaires and billionaires.[9][10] Walker responded that the Peterson Foundation did not provide any direct funding associated with the tour.[11] The tour hit over 23 cities in 17 states, with 33 events in the 33 days leading up to the election[12]

Campaign for America's Future writer Richard Eskow dubbed the bus tour a "Magical Misery Tour": "Somehow the Peterson crowd thought that it would electrify the nation to see Walker, a former Comptroller General, ride around on a converted Greyhound (or whatever vehicle they've purchased) with other aging anti-government types."[9]

Eskow was wrong, however. The thrifty budget scold did not use a Greyhound. CAI chartered and "wrapped" a bus with their slogan (see image above), a much more pricey endeavor and one of the Center for Media and Democracy's (publisher of SourceWatch) top ten signs of an astroturf organization.

When launching the tour, Walker partnered with Ross Perot in a USA Today op-ed warning that the debt was rising by $10 million a minute, with "serious sustainability challenges that threaten our future position in the world" and even "the future domestic tranquility in our streets." The op-ed touted ideas like "no budget, no pay," "which would stipulate that if Congress fails to pass a budget and required spending bills by the end of a fiscal year, the members would not get paid until they fulfilled this responsibility."[13] In January 2013, the House passed a bill that postponed the "debt ceiling" debate and included "no budget, no pay" language. Multiple media outlets ridiculed the House for failing to read the Constitution, which does not allow Members of Congress to adjust their pay during session.[14]

Media Appearances

David M. Walker has become the media face not only of the Comeback America Initiative but also of the fiscally conservative movement as a whole. He has appeared on the "Daily Show with John Stewart'",[15] and "Anderson Cooper 360"[16], and co-authored a column in USA Today with Henry Ross Perot about the national debt.[17] He also regularly authors reports and articles about "fiscal responsibility."[18]

Leadership

Board of Directors

Advisory Council

Staff

  • David M. Walker: Founder and CEO
  • Kathleen M. Benanti: Office Administrator and Special Assistant to CEO
  • Mike V. Murphy: Senior Research Associate
  • Matthew P. Kahn: Research Associate
  • Sarah G. Small: Communications Associate
  • Rachel A. Vierling: Communications Associate

Contact Details

211 State Street
Bridgeport, Connecticut 06604
Email: info AT tcai.org
Website: http://keepingamericagreat.org/[19]

Resources and Articles

Featured SourceWatch Articles on Fix the Debt

External Resources

External Articles

References

  1. Peter G. Peterson Foundation, "Comeback America Initiative", foundation website, accessed January 16, 2013.
  2. Little Sis, "Peter G Peterson Interlocks: People in Common Orgs", online profile, accessed January 17, 2012.
  3. Fix the Debt, "Partners", organizational website, accessed January 25, 2013.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Comeback America Initiative, "About CAI", organizational website, accessed January 16, 2013.
  5. Fix the Debt, "Partners", organizational website, accessed January 25, 2013.
  6. Peter G. Peterson Foundation, "Comeback America Initiative", foundation website, accessed January 16, 2013.
  7. Comeback America Initiative, "Funding", organizational website, accessed January 17, 2013.
  8. Little Sis, "Peter G Peterson Interlocks: People in Common Orgs", online profile, accessed January 17, 2012.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Richard Eskow, Six Degrees of Social Security: The President, the Senator and the Billionaire, Huffington Post, September 7, 2012.
  10. Senator Bernie Sanders, Roundup: Skip gimmicks, focus on richest paying fair share, USA Today, August 28, 2012.
  11. David M. Walker, Roundup: Bus tour a joint effort for non-partisan reform, USA Today, September 5, 2012.
  12. David M. Walker, The official count: 23 cities, 17 states and 33 events in 33 days. #10million, tweet, Twitter.com, September 11, 2012.
  13. H. Ross Perot Sr. and David M. Walker, Column: The national debt, our $10 million-a-minute problem, USA Today, August 22, 2012.
  14. Dale McFeatters, Hold Senators' paychecks? It's unconstitutional, Desert News, January 27, 2013.
  15. "The Daily Show with John Stewart: David Walker", Comedy Central, January 18, 2010.
  16. "Ex-comptroller: We need to wake up", Comeback America Initiative, September 13, 2012.
  17. H. Ross Perot Sr. and David M. Walker, "Column: The national debt, our $10 million-a-minute problem", USA Today, August 22, 2012.
  18. Comeback America Initiative, "Media and Press", organizational website, accessed January 20, 2013.
  19. Comeback America Initiative, "Comeback America Initiative Info", organizational Facebook page, accessed January 16, 2013.