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The one Twitter account Paul Ryan follows — @nationaldebt

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@RepPaulRyan follows just this one Twitter account

Storified by 89.3 KPCC · Sat, Aug 11 2012 18:14:49

KPCC's politics reporter, Sharon McNary decided to follow former Gov. Mitt Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan on Twitter. She had no idea where it would lead her.
Hmmm. @RepPaulRyan has 172K Twitter followers, but that handle follows just one account: @nationaldebt.Sharon McNary

Really? That @nationaldebt must be a heck of a Twitter feed.I go there, look at recent tweets and it’s just a daily number of the size ofthe national debt. Click on the @nationaldebt profile link to see who’s postingit.

And @nationaldebt turns out to be the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, a campaign to reduce the national debt. McNary

The site is chock full of info aboutthe causes and peril of our national debt. Nice looking web site, appears to benon-partisan. I’m interested. I want to learn more. And these are some reallytransparent folks. They put their federal nonprofit tax exemption report — called a Form 990 — right on their "About Us" page.

Now, you need to know this about me — Icannot resist looking at Form 990s. It’s like looking at a tax return, butbecause nonprofits are exempt from taxes, they have to tell the governmentand public about all the things they are doing to deserve that exemption. Thatincludes disclosing income, big donors in some cases and the highest-paidemployees.

Wow. @nationaldebt's Form 990 at says the non-partisan org has nearly $479mm in total assets.Sharon McNary

That is a big bunch of money, I think. Wow, their public relations person makes a few hundred thousand per year more than I do. I gotta know more aboutthese people and this foundation.

The website also lists an advisory board. It’s got bignames you’d recognize, including journalist Leslie Stahl. She wouldn’t plasterher name on just anything, right?

Advisory board for group behind @nationaldebt has reps from tech, retail, pension worlds. McNary

By now, I’m pretty sure I’m the only journalist in Americawho doesn’t know who Peter G. Peterson is. Gonna look him up on Google.

Thanks, NYTimes for profile of Peter G. Peterson, mogul who donates to shape public view of @nationaldebt. McNary
He was a co-founder of a gigantically wealthy financial fund. He saw allthe other moguls like Bill Gates Warren Buffett were doing philanthropy, decided to get in the game.
Says in this '08 article Peterson's donating a billion dollars (no typo, billion with a B) to his cause. McNary

Well, now I know who Peterson is, I want to know how he’srelated to Paul Ryan. Simple Google search turns up a video of Ryan at Petersonpolicy conference last year.

Ahh, synergy. Here is @repryanpaul speaking at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation 2011 fiscal summit. McNary
Representative Paul Ryan: "Why are we willing to leave debt to future generations?"thefiscalsummit

Okay, well clearly Peterson and Ryan are in agreement. I goback to the Form 990 and read more, curious to know how the PetersonFoundation is carrying out its mission, a.k.a. spending its money.

The Comeback America Initiative got a big share of it. Theorganization also gets some nice billing on the Peter G. Peterson Foundationhomepage. 

More synergy, Paul Ryan with David Walker, former head of PGP foundation, now head of Comeback America Initiative McNary
Walker's group Comeback America Initiative got $3mm of Peter G. Peterson Fdn money in 2011, their 990 says.Sharon McNary

Why does the phrase Comeback America seem so familiar today?

And completing the circle, the Romney-Ryan campaign will be known as "America's Comeback Team." McNary
Okay, done pulling the Ryan-Peterson-America Comeback thread today, thanks for playing along.Sharon McNary
Wow, I feel like I learned something really interesting today about Paul Ryan and the billionaire who agrees with him that our national debt is spiraling out of control.

What I don't know — and am curious to find out — is how the Romney-Ryan campaign came to call their joint effort "America's Comeback Team" and whether the idea was suggested by Peterson's Foundation or the America Comeback Initiative.

If you know, tell me at @kpccsharon on Twitter.

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