The Peter G. Peterson Foundation

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The Peter G. Peterson Foundation
PGPF LogoMain FL.jpg

The foundation's logo
Type Political and economic foundation
Founded 2008
Founder(s) Peter G. Peterson
Key people

Peter G. Peterson, Founder and Chairman[1]

Michael A. Peterson, President and Chief Operating Officer[1]
Focus(es) Fiscal and economic challenges of the United States[2]
Mission To increase public awareness of the nature and urgency of key fiscal challenges threatening America's future and to accelerate action on them. To address these challenges successfully, we work to bring Americans together to find and implement sensible, long-term solutions that transcend age, party lines and ideological divides in order to achieve real results
Endowment US$1.0 billion

The Peter G. Peterson Foundation is an American foundation established in 2008 by Peter G. Peterson, former US Secretary of Commerce in the Nixon Administration and co-founder of the Blackstone Group, an American-based financial-services company. With an endowment of $1 billion, it focuses on raising public awareness about the need for fiscal sustainability related to federal deficits, entitlement programs, health care and tax policy and supporting the development of policy solutions to these challenges. Many of the Foundations initiatives cast Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and various safety net programs that aid the poor as in a state of crisis, and in need of dramatic cuts.[3]


In 2008, Peter G Peterson committed $1 billion to create the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, an organization dedicated to addressing economic and fiscal "sustainability challenges that threaten America's future."[4] Peterson recruited David M. Walker, then-Comptroller General of the United States and head of the Government Accountability Office, as the foundation's president and chief executive officer.

In 2010, the foundation launched an annual Washington, D.C. event aimed to draw attention to America’s long-term fiscal issues. The now annual Fiscal Summit brings together top U.S. leaders, such as Bill Clinton, Gene Sperling, Paul Ryan, Paul Volcker, Alan Greenspan, Erskine Bowles, Alan Simpson and Mitch Daniels, to discuss challenges and solutions to U.S. fiscal sustainability.

In October 2010, David M. Walker stepped down as President and CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation to establish his own venture, the Comeback America Initiative with funding provided by the Foundation.


According to the Peterson Foundation website, the mission is the following:

"to increase public awareness of the nature and urgency of key fiscal challenges threatening America's future and to accelerate action on them. To address these challenges successfully, we work to bring Americans together to find and implement sensible, long-term solutions that transcend age, party lines and ideological divides in order to achieve real results."[1]

In an editorial in Newsweek, Pete Peterson describes his inspiration for starting the Foundation, and his goals:

"So I started looking at the lives of other billionaires. Almost all the ones I most admired were major philanthropists: Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Mike Bloomberg, George Soros, Eli Broad—each with a passion to do good, each getting so much pleasure from giving their money away. I decided that's what I wanted to do. But to which worthy cause would I direct my money?

For the first time in my memory, the majority of the American people join me in believing that, on our current course, our children will not do as well as we have. For years, I have been saying that the American government, and America itself, has to change its spending and borrowing policies."[5]


Board of Directors[edit]

Notable Members of Peterson Foundation Advisory Board[edit]

  • Sen. Bill Bradley, Managing Director: Allen & Company LLC; Former United States Senator
  • Gov. Mario Cuomo, Of Counsel: Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP; Former Governor of New York
  • Barry Diller, Chairman, IAC/InterActiveCorp
  • Harvey V. Fineberg, President: Institute of Medicine
  • Sec. Robert Rubin: Co-Chairman, Council on Foreign Relations; Former United States Secretary of the Treasury
  • Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer: Facebook
  • Sec. Donna Shalala, President: University of Miami; Former United States Secretary of Health and Human Services
  • Sec. George Shultz, Thomas W & Susan B. Ford Distinguished Fellow: Hoover Institute – Stanford University; Former United States Secretary of State
  • Paul Volcker, Chairman: Economic Recovery Advisory Board; Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve

Solutions Initiative[edit]

In January, 2011, The Peter G. Peterson Foundation launched the $1.2 million Solutions Initiative grant program. As part of this program, the American Enterprise Institute, Bipartisan Policy Center, Center for American Progress, Economic Policy Institute, Heritage Foundation and Roosevelt Institute Campus Network each received grants of $200,000 to develop comprehensive plans for long-term fiscal sustainability. Grantees had complete discretion and independence to develop their own fiscal goals or targets and to propose recommended packages of solutions and timeframes for achieving them.[6]

The six Solutions Initiative plans contained specific policy recommendations, reflecting the groups’ unique perspectives and priorities, and looked out 10 and 25 years into the future.[7] To make the plans more easily comparable, the Solutions Initiative program required that they be developed from a common starting point based upon the Congressional Budget Office’s long-term projections. The Peterson Foundation also asked the Tax Policy Center and Barry Anderson (former acting director at CBO) to serve as independent scorekeepers, reviewing the plans and applying consistent analytical techniques to all of the proposals.[8]

The six Solutions Initiative plans were released at the 2011 Fiscal Summit.

Annual Fiscal Summit[edit]

Starting in 2010, the Peterson Foundation has convened an annual Fiscal Summit in Washington, DC.

2011 Fiscal Summit[edit]

On May 25, 2011 the Peterson Foundation hosted the 2011 Fiscal Summit: Solutions for America’s Future. Building on the previous year’s Summit, the event brought together six think tanks from across the ideological spectrum to propose plans to address America’s long-term debt and deficits as part of its Solutions Initiative.[9]

In addition to representatives from the think tanks, participants included President Bill Clinton, who delivered keynote remarks, House Budget Committee Chairman Representative Paul Ryan, Obama administration economic advisor Gene Sperling, Co-Chairman of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform Senator Alan K. Simpson, Honeywell International CEO David M. Cote, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, members from the Gang of Six, PBS NewsHour correspondent Gwen Ifill and The New York Times columnist David Brooks.[10][11]

2010 Fiscal Summit[edit]

On April 28, 2010, the Peterson Foundation hosted the 2010 Fiscal Summit: America’s Challenge and A Way Forward. The summit, held one day after the first meeting of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, brought together political leaders and economists from both parties to the and urgency of the nation’s fiscal challenges.

The summit featured a keynote speech by President Bill Clinton. Other participants included former Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag, Center for American Progress CEO John Podesta, Senator Judd Gregg, founding CBO Director Alice Rivlin, Co-Chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform Erskine Bowles, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Director Robert Greenstein, and Economic Policy Institute President Lawrence Mishel.[12][13]

Past Activities[edit]

2011 Republican Primary Debate Sponsorship[edit]

The Peterson Foundation was the official broadcast sponsor of the 2011 Bloomberg/Washington Post Presidential Debate at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.[14] The debate, the first of the 2012 presidential election season to focus entirely on the economy and fiscal issues, was moderated in a roundtable format by PBSCharlie Rose, Washington Post political correspondent Karen Tumulty and Bloomberg TV White House correspondent Julianna Goldman.[15]

As part of its sponsorship, the Foundation aired a series of informational advertisements during the debate.[16] The ads featured children speaking to specific long-term fiscal challenges and the future effects of failing to address the U.S. debt.[17] The final ad concluded with a message from former Sens. Bill Bradley (D-N.J.) and former Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) encouraging congressional leaders to work together and develop a bipartisan plan that addresses the national debt.[18]


In November 2010, the Peterson Foundation launched a $6 million national campaign to raise awareness about the U.S. debt titled "OweNo."[19] The campaign featured nationally broadcast television ads starring satirical presidential candidate named Hugh Jidette, (a play on “Huge Debt”).[20][21]


In August 2008, The Peter G. Peterson Foundation purchases the rights to I.O.U.S.A., a documentary that examined the history and events behind America’s rapidly growing national debt.[22]

I.O.U.S.A. began nationwide showing at the Holland Performing Arts Center in Omaha, Nebraska, on 21 August 2008, with a live discussion among Warren Buffett, Pete Peterson, David Walker, William A. Niskanen, and Bill Novelli following the screening. The film opened in over 300 theaters, followed by private showings on college campuses, in corporate media rooms and at community clubs.[23] The film was also broadcast on CNN on January 10, 2009.[24]

The film made Roger Ebert’s list of the five best documentary films of 2008.[25]

Partnerships, Grants and Sponsorships[edit]

The Peterson Foundation supports numerous organizations, programs, and campaigns through event sponsorships, grants and various partnerships,[26] including:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "About Us: PGPF Highlights". Peter G. Peterson Foundation. 2012-11-08. Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  2. ^ "Issues". The Peter G. Peterson Foundation. Retrieved 19 November 2012. 
  3. ^ "What Half A Billion Dollars Buys You In Washington". Huffington Post. 2012-05-15. 
  4. ^ The Peter G. Peterson Foundation (15 February 2008). "Peter G. Peterson Commits $1 Billion Toward Solving America's Most Significant Economic Challenges" (Press release). New York: PR Newswire Association LLC. Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  5. ^ Peterson, Peter G. (May 29, 2009). "Why I’m Giving Away $1 Billion". Newsweek. 
  6. ^ Paletta, Damian (2011-01-20). "Peterson Foundation Makes $1.2 Million in Grants for Debt-Reduction Proposals". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2012-11-19.  More than one of |work= and |newspaper= specified (help)
  7. ^ Wessel, David (2011-05-26). "Plans to Cut Deficit Reveal Varying Visions". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  8. ^ Gleckman, Howard (May 25, 2011). "Six Think Tanks Tackle the Budget Deficit". Blog. Tax Policy Center, Urban Institute and Brookings Institution. Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  9. ^ Gleckman, Howard (2011-05-26). "Areas Of Agreement On Tackling The Budget Deficit". Forbes. Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  10. ^ SUMMARY AND HIGHLIGHTS: 2011 Fiscal Summit, Solutions for America’s Future (PDF). Washington, D.C.: Peter G. Peterson Foundation. May 25, 2011 
  11. ^ Seabrook, Andrea (2011-05-25). "Lawmakers Meet To Discuss Deficit". National Public Radio (NPR). Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  12. ^ Killian, Linda J. (2010-04-29). "To Fix the National Debt, 'Everything Is On the Table'". Thomas Jefferson Street blog. U.S.News & World Report. Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  13. ^ Weinberg, Ali (28 April 2010). "Attendees agree to disagree on deficit". First Read. Retrieved 19 November 2012. 
  14. ^ "Bloomberg & The Washington Post Present 1st GOP Economic Debate" (Press release). New York: Bloomberg. 2011-10-04. Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  15. ^ Rucker, Philip; Gardner, Amy (2011-10-12). "Mitt Romney solidifies his front-runner status in Republican debate". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  17. ^ Rothstein, Betsy (2011-10-10). "Foundation Uses Kids to Make Pols Feel Dumb – FishbowlDC". Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  18. ^ Peter G. Peterson Foundation (October 8, 2011). "Conclusion". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  19. ^ Wessel, David (2010-11-05). "Peterson Foundation to Launch ‘OweNo’ Anti-Deficit Ad Campaign". Real Time Economics (The Wall Street Journal). Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  20. ^ Smith, Donna (2010-11-09). "Peterson Foundation launches OweNo campaign on U.S. debt". Tales from the Trail (Reuters). Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  21. ^ "Hugh Jidette for President". YouTube. 2011-01-06. Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  22. ^ I.O.U.S.A. (2008) at the Internet Movie Database
  23. ^ "IOUSA". Peter G. Peterson Foundation. 2008-08-22. Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  24. ^ CNN (15 December 2008). "CNN to Air Timely Documentary and Discussion About U.S. Economic Challenges: U.S. Broadcast Premiere of Critically Acclaimed Film I.O.U.S.A. Included in Exclusive Televised Event" (Press release). Archived from the original on 13 July 2011. 
  25. ^ Ebert, Roger (December 5, 2008). "The best films of 2008... and there were a lot of them". Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  26. ^ "Our Projects & Grants". Peter G. Peterson Foundation. 2010-12-16. Retrieved 2012-11-19. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°45′50″N 73°58′40″W / 40.76384°N 73.97777°W / 40.76384; -73.97777