Franklin money manager launches Bowles-Simpson crusade

CapWealth boss recruiting other CEOs to advertise for tax, spending reform plan

Tim Pagliara’s frustration turned to action on the upper slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Scaling Africa’s tallest mountain for the fifth time last November, the CEO of CapWealth Advisors in Cool Springs was thinking — again — about the fiscal and spending problems facing the United States. Specifically, he found himself wondering — again — why the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson plan failed to get traction after it was released in late 2010, especially during and after the contentious debt ceiling debate of last summer.

The Bowles-Simpson plan, which is formally known as the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, called for a simplification of the tax system as well as government spending limits and gradual changes to entitlement plan guidelines. After researching its components, Pagliara became convinced the plan charts the proper course for the United States and decided to “spend a good chunk of my money to try to focus the debate on where it needs to be.”

Pagliara recently formed Citizens for Enacting The Bowles-Simpson Plan, a 501(c)(4) to advertise and advocate for the plan across the country. He has committed more than $50,000 of his own money to the cause and is recruiting other CEOs around the country to pick up the ball and invest in publicity campaigns in their communities. (Here is one of Enact the Plan ads.)

“This is a very politically agnostic thing,” Pagliara said. “If we just applied some discipline, we’ll work our way out of it.”

Pagliara said he has found an interested audience as he has approached other corporate leaders and plans to soon announce their involvement. And while Bowles-Simpson might become a more regular topic of debate once the general election campaign heats up late this summer, he said his initiative wants to get in front of voters ASAP.

“We’re not going to bank this,” he said. “As soon as people commit, we’ll book it and spend it.”

Pagliara, who has no political experience, hopes his push will strike a public chord the way the Occupy movement did last year.

“The American people are tired of hearing about birth control pills,” he said.