WASHINGTON -- New York mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Wednesday that he has joined Campaign to Fix the Debt, a controversial debt-reduction group funded by corporate CEOs and private equity billionaire Peter G. Peterson. Bloomberg, a political independent, will join former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) and former New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg (R) as a national co-chair of the group.
“The federal deficit poses a serious and eminent (sic) threat to the U.S. economy,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “Congress and the White House have an obligation to work together to … implement pro-growth policies that increase long-term policy certainty for business and investors."
The Campaign to Fix the Debt has emerged as an influential voice in the lobbying effort surrounding ongoing budget negotiations in Congress, having reportedly launched a high-profile public relations blitz and raised more than more than $60 million.
But as The Huffington Post reported, the group's bipartisan leadership masks politically conservative backing, and the group's leading council of CEOs is made up largely of Republican political donors. Bloomberg, a billionaire media mogul, was a registered Republican until 2007.
Fix the Debt does not push for any specific policies, but instead embraces core principles, which include "reforming Medicare and Medicaid," making Social Security "solvent," and enacting "pro-growth tax reform," which includes lowering tax rates. In interviews, the group's co-founders, former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) and former Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles, get more specific, including lowering the corporate tax rate and transitioning to a territorial tax system, which would allow corporations to keep more profits they make overseas. They have also proposed "wiping out" popular tax deductions, such as the mortage interest deduction and the charitable deduction, and raising the retirement age.
In an op-ed Wednesday in The Washington Post, Bloomberg did not mention specific policies, but said the current proposals on Capitol Hill don't go to far enough. "While the tax revenue and entitlement cuts being discussed are both less than what I and many others believe are necessary to maximize long-term growth, the specifics of the deal are to some extent less important than the act of getting one," he wrote.
Bloomberg is the second high-profile mayor to join Fix the Debt in recent weeks. Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) also signed on to the group earlier this month, citing his support for reforming Social Security and Medicare. Democrats in Los Angeles responded by circulating an online petition urging Villaraigosa to withdraw, which garnered by 20,000 signatures.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly ascribed policy positions espoused by Fix The Debt representatives to the organization itself.