It's Halloween on Capitol Hill and it was supposed to be the day of the can. The walking, human-sized soup can, that is, which serves as the mascot for the Can Kicks Back campaign, a millennial-friendly initiative drawing attention to the national debt by urging lawmakers to stop kicking the can down the road.
The Can Kicks Back folks were having a press conference Thursday outside the Capitol, featuring Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and John Thune, R-S.D., when an "Argghhh" coming from a man dressed as a pirate interrupted the action.
"Corporate Pirate Argghhh," the gentleman yelled. "I endorse everything, but raising corporate taxes! Keep your hands off my corporate booty that I've stashed away in the Caribbean," the pirate yelled.
The pirate was Alex Lawson, who serves as the executive director of Social Security Works. Lawson decided to crash the press conference and call out the Can Kicks Back campaign for not coming from the grass roots, but astroturfing instead. "The Can Kicks Back is made up and funded by Fix the Debt, which is an organization started by billionaire Pete Peterson, made up of billionaire corporate CEOs," he told Whispers. "What they are trying to do is, they are saying they crashed the world economy through reckless behavior, but they are going to cut Americans' earned benefits...so that they don't have to pay their fair share of taxes."
The Can Kicks Back is tied to Fix the Debt, which is a project of the Committee for a Responsible Budget, funded by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, according to reporting from the Los Angeles Times.
But the Can Kicks Back's co-founder and executive director Ryan Schoenike says his group started organically. "Myself and four other people were concerned about this issue, we have been for a long time, we got together in our off time and came up with a plan to do this and we went out and found funding for it on our own," he told Whispers.
The pirate, says Schoenike, was a first. "You know, I think this is the first time we've been protested at anything we've ever done like that," Schoenike said. "He mentioned he was from the Caribbean, I'm just happy he came all the way out to hear what we had to say."