Fix the Debt Leaders and Conflicts of Interest

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

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." Fix the Debt biographies posted on the organization's website fail to reveal that their core leadership team is riddled with conflicts of interest. Public Accountability Initiative (PAI) examined federal lobbying records and found at least 13 steering committee members with financial ties to firms that lobby on deficit-related matters that are not disclosed in their Fix the Debt bios. These firms lobby to preserve dozens of costly tax breaks (including the “carried interest” tax loophole that made Pete Peterson a rich man) or to hold off new taxes, such as the “Robin Hood Tax,” a proposed financial speculation tax that could raise as much as a $1 trillion over 10 years.

The image and wiki table below detail the corporate ties and conflicts of interest by Fix the Debt leaders. Footnotes for each item are available in the wiki chart at the bottom.

These tables are part of the Center for Media and Democracy's investigation of this astroturf supergroup and related groups. Please visit our main SourceWatch page on Fix the Debt, the article on Fix the Debt's Leadership, and the Pete Peterson page for more.

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.


Chart

ConflictsofInterest.png

For more information, see the table below.

Table

Fix the Debt Leader Description at FixTheDebt.org Current Ties to Corporations Lobbying Around the Budget
Maya MacGuineas (Steering Committee) President of Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Director of Fiscal Policy Program at the New America Foundation Goldman Sachs. MacGuineas' husband, Robin Brooks, is managing director and currency trading analyst there, and has co-authored memos on the implications of the fiscal cliff for currency speculators.[1] Goldman lobbied around "fiscal cliff negotiations"[2] and "tax issues during the last quarter of 2012."[3] Goldman is also a member of Managed Funds Association, which is lobbying against the financial speculation tax;[4][5] CEO Lloyd Blankfein is a member of Fix the Debt's CEO Council and has called for cuts to Social Security as part of any deficit reduction solution.[6]
Erskine Bowles (Co-Founder) Co-Founder of Fix the Debt; co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform; former UNC president; former Clinton administration official
Morgan Stanley. Bowles is a board member, earning $345,000 last year.[7] In the last quarter of 2012, Morgan Stanley lobbied around bank and financial product taxes, international tax rules, and energy tax legislation.[8] It is also member of Managed Funds Association, which is lobbying against the financial speculation tax.[9]
Facebook. Bowles is a board member, earning $618,067 last year.[10] Facebook lobbied around the "effect of corporate tax deduction proposals on the tech sector."[11]
Norfolk Southern. Bowles is a board member, earning $285,840 last year.[12] Norfolk Southern lobbied around corporate tax issues in the fourth quarter of 2012; its lobbying filing states "Supports reduction in the corporate tax rate."[13]
JPMorgan Chase. Bowles' wife, Crandall Close Bowles, is a board member and made $258,750 in that position last year.[14] JPMorgan has lobbied on "tax reform issues" and "bank tax legislation" in the fourth quarter of 2012.[15] It is also member of the Managed Funds Association and the American Bankers Association, which are lobbying against the financial speculation tax.[16][17]
Sara Lee. Bowles' wife, Crandall Close Bowles, is a board member and earned $252,273 in the position last year.[18] Sara Lee has recently lobbied around SNAP policies.[19]
Deere & Co. Bowles' wife is a board member, earning $209,915 last year. [20] Deere lobbied around "corporate tax reform," "bonus depreciation," and other tax issues in the fourth quarter of 2012.[21]
Judd Gregg (Co-Chair) Co-Chair of Fix the Debt; former Senator and Representative; ranking member of Senate Budget Committee; former Governor of New Hampshire; served on National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform
Goldman Sachs. Gregg is an international adviser, but his compensation is not publicly disclosed.[22] See "Maya MacGuineas," above, for more details on Goldman's lobbying activity.
IntercontinentalExchange. Gregg is a board member of the derivatives exchange, making $334,886 in that position in 2011.[23] ICE noted in its 2012 annual report that a financial speculation tax would reduce trading volume and curtail profits.[24]
Honeywell. Gregg is a board member, making $401,514 in 2011.[25] Honeywell lobbied on defense spending and tax issues during the last quarter of 2012, including "corporate tax reform" and "international taxation and repatriation."[26] It also noted in its 2012 annual report that a change in government defense funding could adversely impact sales.[27]
Ed Rendell (Co-Chair) Co-Chair of Fix the Debt, former Governor of Pennsylvania; former mayor and district attorney of City of Philadelphia; former chair of the National Governors Association. Ballard Spahr. Rendell is special counsel there, and lobbied for KCI USA, a wound care technology company, on Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements in 2012.[28] Rendell focuses on housing and infrastructure issues at Ballard Spahr.[29]

He is also senior advisor at Greenhill & Co., an investment bank, and operating partner at Element Partners, a venture capital firm.

Michael Bloomberg (Co-Chair) Co-Chair of Fix the Debt, mayor of New York City, founder of Bloomberg Citigroup. Bloomberg's longtime partner, Diana Taylor, is a board member, and made $316,250 in this position in 2011.[30] Citigroup lobbied on tax reform and the active financing exception during the last quarter of 2012.[31] Citigroup also lobbied
David Cote (Steering Committee) Fix the Debt Steering Committee; chairman & CEO of Honeywell; served on National Committee on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform
Honeywell. Cote is chairman & CEO, and made $25.3 million[32] in this position in 2011. See "Judd Gregg," above, for details on Honeywell's lobbying activities around the budget.
JPMorgan Chase. Cote is a board member and made $245,000 in this position in 2011.[33] See "Erskine Bowles" above for details on JPMorgan's budget-related lobbying activity.
KKR. Cote is a senior advisor at the private equity firm.[34] KKR lobbied on "Tax issues affecting private equity firms and their portfolio companies, including tax reform" in the last quarter of 2012.[35] Akin Gump's Vic Fazio, a Fix the Debt steering committee member, lobbied for KKR on these issues.
Jimmy Lee (Steering Committee) Fix the Debt Steering Committee; Vice Chairman of JPMorgan Chase and Co-Chairman of J.P. Morgan JPMorgan Chase. Lee is vice chairman. See "Erskine Bowles" for more detail on JPMorgan's budget-related lobbying activity. Lee is also a board member at the US Chamber of Commerce, which lists the "Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax Act" and "Various issues relating to the fiscal cliff, tax reform, entitlement reform, and sequestration" in its 2012 fourth quarter disclosure form.[36]
Sam Nunn (Steering Committee) Fix the Debt Steering Committee; Co-Chairman of the Concord Coalition; Co-Chairman & CEO of the Nuclear Threat Initiative
GE. Nunn is a board member, earning $312,793 in 2011.[37] GE lobbied on the "Robin Hood tax" (taxes on financial transactions), corporate tax rates, taxes on international operations, defense, housing, energy, and transportation appropriations in the fourth quarter of 2012.[38]
Coca-Cola. Nunn is a board member, earning $212,977 in 2011.[39] Coca-Cola lobbied on a range of tax issues in the fourth quarter of 2012, including tax reform for multinational companies and taxes on bottled and canned beverages.[40]
Hess Corp. Nunn is a board member (compensation figures are not yet available, but directors made between $250,000 and $300,000 in 2011[41]). Hess lobbied on "international tax provisions" in the fourth quarter of 2012.[42]
Phil Bredesen (Steering Committee) Fix the Debt Steering Committee; former Governor of Tennessee; founder of HealthAmerica Corp. Vanguard Health Systems. Bredesen is a board member and made $240,005 in 2011.[43] Vanguard lobbied on federal appropriations and tax issues in the fourth quarter of 2012.[44] Vanguard's biggest shareholder is Blackstone group, which was co-founded by Fix the Debt funder Pete Peterson.[45]
Vic Fazio (Steering Committee) Fix the Debt Steering Committee; former U.S. Representative; member of Armed Services, Budget, Ethics, and House Administration Committees
Northrop Grumman. Fazio is a board member, making $304,347 in that position 2011.[46] Northrop Grumman lobbied on defense appropriations and the research and development tax credit in the fourth quarter of 2012.[47]
Akin Gump. Fazio is a lobbyist at Akin Gump. In 2012, he lobbied on behalf of many corporations on tax and appropriations issues including: KKR[48] and Private Equity Growth Capital Council[49] (tax reform and issues affecting private equity); InBev (tax reform and alcohol excise taxes)[50]; ADM (renewable fuels)[51]; AT&T (bonus depreciation)[52]; PG&E (tax legislation affecting public utilities)[53]; and CCA (Justice and Homeland Security appropriations and issues pertaining to construction and management of private prisons).[54]
Jim McCrery (Steering Committee) Fix the Debt Steering Committee; former U.S. Representative; Ways and Means Committee; Select Revenue Measures Committee; Social Security Subcommittee and Health Subcommittee Capitol Counsel. McCrery is a lobbyist at Capitol Counsel. In the last quarter of 2012, he lobbied on behalf of numerous corporations and organizations on budget-related matters. Clients include the Alliance for Savings & Investment (capital gains and dividend tax rates)[55]; Amgen (Medicare coverage and reimbursement and tax issues)[56]; Blackstone Group (tax reform and carried interest taxation)[57]; Blue Cross Blue Shield (taxes on health insurers)[58]; Cardinal Health (medical device tax)[59]; Chevron (tax reform)[60]; GE ("Monitoring legislation related to deferral of overseas income, bank tax, corporate tax and tax reform")[61]; Reynolds American (tax proposals on tobacco industry)[62]; Wal-mart (corporate tax, internet sales tax, and tax reform)[63]; PHRMA (pharmaceutical tax and reimbursement issues)[64]; and several others.
Jim Nussle (Steering Committee) Fix the Debt Steering Committee, former OMB director, former U.S. Representative, House Budget Committee Chair, president of the Nussle Group Growth Energy. Nussle is President & COO of Growth Energy, an ethanol industry lobby. Growth Energy lobbied on the ethanol tax credit in the last quarter of 2012.[65]
Margaret Spellings (Steering Committee) Fix the Debt Steering Committee, former Secretary of Education under George W. Bush U.S. Chamber of Commerce Spellings lobbies for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. She is the owner PR firm Margaret Spellings & Company, client U.S. Chamber.[66]
This table includes leaders of Fix the Debt -- steering committee members, co-chairs, co-founders -- that have current ties to corporations lobbying around federal tax and spending issues. Twelve of the 19 Fix the Debt leaders have such ties; the other seven are not included in this table.

Researched and produced by the Public Accountability Initiative, February 2013.

Resources and Articles

Related Fix the Debt SourceWatch Articles

References

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