Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

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

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) is housed at the New America Foundation (NAF), a 501(c)(3) that receives considerable funding from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.[1] According to its website, "The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget is a bipartisan, non-profit organization committed to educating the public about issues that have significant fiscal policy impact. The Committee is made up of some of the nation's leading budget experts including many of the past Chairmen and Directors of the Budget Committees, the Congressional Budget Office, the Office of Management and Budget, the Government Accountability Office, and the Federal Reserve Board."[2]

Since 1981, CRFB has kept up a steady drum beat of seminars, reports, blue ribbon commissions, and the like, all focusing on the nation's debt crisis and the need to reform "entitlements" such as Social Security and Medicare, which are better described as earned benefit programs that American workers pay into with each paycheck. Pete Peterson, Erskine Bowles, Alan Cranston, and Alice Rivlin all serve on its large board.[3]

Committee for a Responsible Budget Once Partnered With Big Tobacco Interests

In the 1990s, CRFB formed a "Cost Containment Coalition" that objected to the Clinton Health Care reform proposals and any new taxes to pay for health care. CRFB's opposition was portrayed as a tough, principled stand, but years later, documents were revealed that showed the Tobacco Institute, a now defunct industry lobbying group, funding the coalition[4] while Philip Morris funded CRFB President Carol Cox Wait.[5] Internal Philip Morris memos found in the Tobacco Library describe how the firm worked with CRFB to set up the coalition to help the company achieve its "overriding objective" of avoiding tobacco excise taxes as part of any health care reform package.[6]

Cox Wait, who is reportedly married to Philip Morris vice president Bob Wait,[7] was doing double duty as a federal budget consultant to the tobacco giant. An internal Philip Morris document explains why this is helpful to them: "Because of her bipartisan Board, 'Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget,' and given her 'neutral' status, Carol is able to access many people who would be inaccessible to us given our issues."[5]

More recently, CRFB and its Fix the Debt project have come under fire for fronting for firms pushing for a territorial tax system, a tax break for profits earned offshore (see IPS' "The CEO Campaign to 'Fix' the Debt: A Trojan Horse for Massive Corporate Tax Breaks") and for fronting for defense industry firms anxious to avoid budget cuts (see Public Accountability Initiative's "Operation Fiscal Bluff").

Ties to Pete Peterson's Fix the Debt

CRFB is listed as a partner organization in the Fix the Debt Campaign, but is better described as a "parent organization."[8] 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 is listed as a "project of" the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) on the organization's website as of February 2013, which is itself a project of the New America Foundation (NAF).[9] The Peter G. Peterson Foundation gave NAF $2,050,000 from 2009 to 2011.[10] CRFB used to be an independent organization, but became associated with NAF in 2003.[11]

Funding from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation

Fiscal Year 2011[12]

Fiscal Year 2009[12]

  • $1,250,000 to support the Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform at CRFB

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.


Projects

Moment of Truth Project

The Moment of Truth Project (Twitter handle @bowlessimpson) is listed as a project of CRFB on its website. It was funded by a $300,000 Peterson Foundation Grant in 2011[10] after the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (better known as the "Simpson-Bowles Commission") failed to garner enough votes to pass a final deficit reduction package. It is named for the chairmen's report released by Simpson and Bowles in December 2010 called "The Moment of Truth: Report of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform." The Peterson funded project gave Erskine Bowles and Senator Alan Simpson staff support and a PR platform to continue their advocacy for cuts to the federal budget after the commission ended.[13]

Campaign to Fix the Debt

According to crfb.org, "The Campaign to Fix the Debt is a non-partisan movement to put America on a better fiscal and economic path. We come together from a variety of social, economic and political perspectives, around the common belief that America's growing federal debt threatens our future and that we must address it. The Campaign will mobilize key communities-including leaders from business, government, and policy-and people all across America who want to see elected officials step up to solve our nation's fiscal challenges."

Contact

Maya MacGuineas
President, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget
202-596-3597
crfb@crfb.org

Resources and Articles

Featured SourceWatch Articles on Fix the Debt

Other Related SourceWatch Articles

External Resources

External Articles

References

  1. "Our Funding" The New America Foundation, Accessed January 18, 2013.
  2. Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, About Us, organizational website, accessed January 9, 2013.
  3. Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Board, organizational website, accessed January 2013.
  4. Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Invoice to The Tobacco Institute, organizational invoice to tobacco industry lobbying group, November 16, 1993, p. 2.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Philip Morris Corporate Affairs, Corporate Cost Review, corporate affairs summary, July 20, 1993, p. 5.
  6. Philip Morris Companies Inc., Memo RE: PM Participation in Health Care Coalitions, internal corporate memo, June 1, 1992.
  7. Paul Blumenthal and Ryan Grim, CRFB Corporate Ties: Budget Watchdog Funded By Big Tobacco In 1990s Health Care Fight, Huffington Post, January 24, 2013.
  8. "Partners", Fix the Debt, Accessed January 25, 2013.
  9. CRFB, About Us, organizational website, accessed February 2013.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Peter G. Peterson Foundation, New America Foundation/Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, organizational website, accessed January 2013.
  11. Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, MacGuineas To Lead Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, organizational press release, August 7, 2003.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "New America Foundation/Committee for a Responsible Budget", Peter G. Peterson Foundation, August 1, 2012.
  13. The Moment of Truth Project, Statement on the First Anniversary of The Moment of Truth Project, organizational statement, December 1, 2011.