WASHINGTON -- Most people don't think of partying at rock concerts in the name of debt reduction. Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, after all, are certainly no Mumford and Sons. But this summer, their well-funded group Campaign to Fix the Debt will be trying to make the issue as fun and hip as can be.
The effort kicked off on Friday in downtown Washington, D.C. Hungry office workers flooding Farragut Square to get lunch were greeted by about 75 people singing and dancing to a song to the tune of Aretha Franklin's "Freedom." Some of the lyrics were "Take responsibility!" and "Income!" and "Everyone let's come together now and fix it!" Participants were wearing red and blue shirts -- representing Republicans and Democrats -- all coming together to
dance reduce the deficit.
"Our goal is to engage people in a different way and have a little fun," Fix the Debt spokesman Jon Romano said. "Today was the start of doing these type of events both here in D.C. and around the country."
The event was organized through a local dance group, and participants received a $65 stipend. Individuals -- many of them college students -- told The Huffington Post they heard about it on CraigsList, ads on entertainment websites and through their modeling agency.
On June 24, Fix the Debt will also be holding a "Rock the Debt" concert at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C.
Fix the Debt, one of the many endeavors affiliated with billionaire Peter G. Peterson, has raised tens of millions of dollars from some of America's largest corporations since its launch in July 2012, in an effort to push Congress to come up with a deficit reduction deal.
While the group is publicly bipartisan and says it does not advocate a particular policy solution to fixing the debt, its biggest backers and partners have been Republican and Republican-allied, and members of the campaign's CEO Fiscal Leadership Council have argued that the most effective way to cut the deficit is to severely scale back social safety-net programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
Romano has said that the group's supporters "are willing to put their personal politics aside in order to get a comprehensive debt deal for the good of the country."
Most of the flash mob participants who spoke with The Huffington Post on Friday seemed to be there more for the stipend than the cause, although Amber Lee Brown, a student at George Mason University, said she went to the group's website and liked what she read.
"They actually want to fix the problem, not argue against each other," she said.
But when pressed further, she and two young women with her were skeptical of the ideas being tossed around by Fix the Debt's backers.
Dominique Collier, an Ohio State graduate, said she doesn't believe that cuts to Social Security and Medicare are the right path to take. Bonita Bridges, a student at Montgomery College, supports raising taxes on wealthy Americans -- an approach that Republicans in Congress have rejected.
"I think for people with higher incomes, they should pay more taxes than the lower-income people," she said. "That would help some of the problems."
UPDATE 10:42 p.m. -- Daniel Marans of "Take Action News with David Shuster" and Social Security Works -- which opposes entitlement program cuts -- also witnessed the flash mob and spoke to participants who said cutting benefits wouldn't be the right approach to reducing the national deficit.
"I see what my mom and dad get," said Al Arcidiacono, 52, who was passing out purple "Fix the Debt" T-shirts and working the soundboard. "My mom worked hard for 40 years as a tailor at Saks Fifth Avenue. Thank God she was able to save her own money. But what she gets from Social Security is a pittance. It would barely be enough for her and my dad to survive on -- where they live and the lifestyle they've become accustomed to. And they are cutting back a little."
Watch the performance in the video above, which was passed along by Daniel Marans of Social Security Works.
Photo of some of the participants of the Fix the Debt flash mob:
Lisa Miller contributed research.
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