The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, an organization that advocates for debt reduction, has been cited four times during the course of the debates — an astounding amount of influence for just one special interest group.

During the debate tonight, moderator Chris Wallace cited CRFB twice to ask about the national debt. During his first question, Wallace claimed that “the Committee for Federal — Responsible Federal Budget has looked at both of your plans and they say neither of you have a serious plan that is going to solve the fact” that Medicare and Social Security are running out of money.

During the vice presidential debate earlier this month, moderator Elaine Quijano cited the group twice to ask nearly identical questions about the national debt and entitlements as those that came up tonight.

CRFB has been funded for many years by the billionaire Pete Peterson and is dedicated to raising fears about the national debt. The group has faced accusations that it has spread irresponsible fears about the national debt and promoted policies that would depress economic growth while rolling back vital welfare benefits. As my colleague Zaid Jilani has pointed out in the past, the debt is in fact fairly low and debt reduction should not be a high priority. Economist Dean Baker has noted that interest payments on the debt are currently less than 1.0 percent of GDP.