January 7, 2014

Peterson Foundation Chairman Pete Peterson was featured in the new Winter 2014 issue of Philanthropy magazine, out today. Below is an excerpt from the profile, entitled "Economia!" (the Greek word for "thrift"):

The Peterson Foundation’s first task is education. It expends a lot of money and effort making people aware that there is a serious problem in our federal treasury. If you hear someone talking about entitlements or debt today, chances are they have had their thinking informed by a Peterson report or event. The foundation’s annual Fiscal Summit is rapidly becoming a Who’s Who of serious thinkers on this topic—and the ones who aren’t on the podium are often in the audience, furiously taking notes...

One of the most interesting things about the Peterson Foundation’s efforts is that it hasn’t pushed a specific agenda on the public, or funded ideological forces to do so at arm’s length. Its politically broad investments have encouraged scholars of all perspectives to take ownership of the problem. It has made brainstorming and raising of awareness its work.

Yet if no one takes action, all of this will eventually be for naught. Peterson would rather that the U.S. fix the situation now. Budget problems are easiest to control when tackled early, for the same reason that retirement experts urge people not to wait until they’re 50 to start funding their 401(k)s. But Washington’s short-term thinking has, if anything, gotten worse in recent years. Observers used to lament that policymaking was dominated by the two-year House of Representatives election cycle; now lawmakers lurch from crisis to crisis with political cycles measured in months or weeks.

Read the profile, written by Bloomberg columnist Megan McArdle, in Philanthropy, and check out PGPF's "Why Long Term Debt Matters Now" infographic, which is the source for the fiscal and economic numbers referenced in the article.


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