Posts Tagged ‘Center for AmericaN PROGRESS’


BY Rick Maze

A new report by a liberal-leaning think tank recommends a dramatic overhaul of military pay, retirement and health care benefits as part of a $1 trillion cut in defense spending over 10 years.

The Center for American Progress calls for capping pay raises, eliminating military health benefits for many retirees who are covered by an employer-provided plan, and reducing the value of military retired pay as well as making retirees wait until age 60 to start receiving it.

Recommendations are included in a report, Rebalancing Our National Security, released Oct. 31 by the progressive think tank and advocacy group. The report opposes across-the-board cuts in defense spending that could occur beginning in January under sequestration but still calls for major reductions in defense spending.

Capping pay raises, the report says, could save $16.5 billion over the next five years. Reducing retiree health care benefits, through a combination of restricting care and raising fees, could save $15 billion a year. Reforming military retired pay could save, in the short term, up to $13 billion a year, and over time could save up to $70 billion a year off the current plan.

In addition to cutting compensation and benefits, the report also recommends cutting the number of active-duty troops permanently based in Europe and Asia, saving $10 billion a year. It recommends withdrawing 33,000 troops from Europe and about 17,000 from Asia.

In calling for less spending on military pay raises, the report basically endorses a plan proposed, but not yet executed, by the Defense Department. Under the Pentagon plan, pay raises beginning in 2015 would be capped at less than the average increase in private sector pay, a move that responds to a belief that military members are being paid more than civilians with comparable jobs and experience. This happened because Congress, over Pentagon objections, has regularly provided the military with raises that were slightly larger than the average private-sector raise to eliminate what had been perceived as a pay gap. The end result, says the report, is that the average service member is receiving $5,400 more in annual compensation than a comparable civilian.

The Defense Department plan calls for a 0.5 percent raise in 2015, a 1 percent raise in 2016 and a 1.5 percent raise in 2017 to bring pay levels back in line, which the CAP report endorses.

“To its credit, the Department of Defense has attempted to tackle this problem in its FY 2013 budget request, outlining a plan that would gradually bring military pay back in line with the Employment Cost Index without cutting any service member’s pay,” the report says. “Congress should demonstrate political courage and allow the Department of Defense to execute this long-term plan.”

Similarly, the report endorses many of the Defense Department’s proposals for cutting health care costs by raising fees, mostly on retirees and their families. But the report goes a step further: “To truly restore the Tricare program to stable financial footing, the Defense Department should enact measures to reduce the overutilization of medical services and limit double coverage of working-age military retirees,” the report says.

One idea would be to modify Tricare for Life benefits for Medicare-eligible retirees so that the program would not cover the first $500 of costs per year and would cover only 50 percent of the next $5,000.

Another idea would be to mandate that working-age retirees could only have Tricare benefits if they or their spouses do not have access to employer-provided health benefits. The report suggests this would be an income-based restriction but does not say what the cutoff should be.

The report also recommends modifying military retirement benefits. For anyone currently in the military with fewer than 10 years of service, benefits could be cut: Instead of receiving 50 percent of basic pay after 20 years of service, with immediate benefits, the report says the benefits would be 40 percent of base pay with payments not beginning until age 60. For people not yet in the military, there would be no fixed retired pay in the future, only a pre-tax retirement savings plan based on contributions from the service member.


by Tiffany Gabbay
In a creative use of language, the government may be trying to, perhaps not so subtly, convince you of its well-meaning intentions. In a day and age where the term “federal government” evokes feelings of disillusionment, and for some, even disgust, the Obama administration is opting for the softer, and evidently preferable term “federal family.”
But does “federal family” elicit warm, familial feelings, or does it instead conjure images of Big Brother and 1984?
The Palm Beach Post notes that in the flurry of official communications surrounding the onset and aftermath of Hurricane Irene, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) repeatedly used the phrase “federal family” when describing the Obama administration’s response to the storm.
The term wasn’t coined by the Obama administration, but it certainly seems to have taken it to a whole other level.
While the administrations of both Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush peppered the odd congressional testimony or statement with the euphemism (a Google search reveals the phrase appeared 10 times on FEMA’s website during the Bush years), since Obama took office, “federal family” has turned up some 118 times on, 50 instances of which include Irene-related references.
“Under the direction of President Obama and Secretary Janet Napolitano, the entire federal family is leaning forward to support our state, tribal and territorial partners along the East Coast,” a FEMA news release stated the Friday prior to Irene’s arrival.
“’Government’ is such a dirty word right now,” Florida State University communication professor Davis Houck told the Post. “Part of what the federal government does and any elected official does is change the terms of the language game into terms that are favorable to them.”
In another instance during Hurricane Irene, the Obama administration claimed it was “committed to bringing all of the resources of the federal family to bear.”
“That one is so blatantly obvious that I think people’s rhetorical radar is going to go off,” Houck said.
The Sydney Morning Herald adds that some believe a disaster is a golden opportunity to communicate how government can help people:
The University of Pennsylvania political communications professor Kathleen Hall Jamieson, said: ”People are performing a family-like function in a … crisis.”
But the message only worked, she said, if it was reinforced by images of federal workers managing the aftermath – in other words, succeeding.
”The question is, ‘Are we a dysfunctional family?’ ” she said.

Soros advises Obama to use forceful measures to override the will of the people

By Ed Lasky for American Thinker

George Soros funds the Center for American Progress, which has been characterized as Barack Obama’s Ideas Factory. John Podesta, its head, led the transition team when Barack Obama became President. The Center has also become a hiring hall for the Obama team, filling its positions with former employees (among these was controversial Van Jones — who now is back at the Center).

Apparently, George Soros and his Center are upset that the American people placed a roadblock in their plans when we rose up and painted the nation red. The Center now is providing a blueprint of ways Barack Obama can do an end run around the people’s will by resorting to methods that will strike many of us as being improper-to say the least. Relying on executive orders, interpretation of regulations, rule -making and the like they are collectively a recipe for even more power being assumed by President Obama.

From Tuesday’s Politico Playbook:

[The] Center for American Progress today is releasing a report, “Power of the President,” proposing 30 executive actions the president can take to advance progressive change in the areas of energy, the economy, health care, education, foreign policy, and national security. “The following authorities can be used to ensure progress on key issues facing the country today: Executive orders, Rulemaking, Agency management, Convening and creating public-private partnerships , Commanding the armed forces, Diplomacy.

The New York Times fleshes out these proposals with some suggestions about policy changes across the board. The ideology of George Soros shines through the Center’s report as it justifies this forceful approach to circumvent Congress when it states that:

[The] legislative battles that Mr. Obama waged during his first two years – notably on health care and financial regulatory reform – have created a weariness among the general public with the process of making laws. And it hints it has not helped Mr. Obama politically in the process.

In other words, when Congress passed a variety of laws Americans became dismayed by the horse-trading and bribes that were resorted to by Democrats to impose these policies on us. Instead of compromise and listening to the American people, Soros counsels that more forceful measures should be used to override the will of the American people.

And this is the man the Democratic Party has as their sugar daddy and who various Democratic leaders over the years have defended and praised (for example, as shown by this letter from 11 Democratic lawmakers).

He is certainly a dictatorial daddy.

George Soros Wants to Own America One State at a Time

Soros’s Next Target: Your State

By Ed Lasky

George Soros — hedge fund billionaire, major funder of so-called 527 groups, early supporter of Barack Obama, and sugar daddy of the Democratic Party — is one of America’s most powerful political players. He had a bad November 2 when Republicans took control of the House. But he is not down for the count. He has already begun focusing on states as his next political playground — where he wants to be the biggest bully on the block.

George Soros has seen his game plan work quite well for years in Washington. He has created a phalanx of powerful think-tanks (The Center for American Progress — Obama’s Idea Factory, being just the best-known, but there are many more), he has politicians in his ample pockets, and the Democratic Party is beholden to him and his empire of activist groups — including MoveOn.Org.

He may have gone as far as he can in the short term in Washington; he admitted as much recently when he said he could not stop a Republican avalanche. However, as is true of every hedge fund maven, Soros is always on the lookout for opportunities that have escaped others, where he can use leverage to achieve big gains.

And many states are prime hunting grounds to bag big game — particularly if Republicans and Tea Partiers succeed in delegating to states more power to manage their own affairs.

How will Soros spread his tentacles?

We already have clues.

George Soros and a group of liberal billionaires and mere centimillionaires and Democratic operatives joined forces a few years ago to form the Democracy Alliance. Each member of this group pays a membership fee and annual dues and also commits to support individual candidates and groups that promote their liberal ideology.

But what George Soros and company have also done over the years is try to reengineer the democratic process to achieve their goals.

While they counsel their members to keep their actions under the radar screen, we do know of some steps they have taken to further their agenda of changing the nature of our democracy.

Secretary of States Project

One of their more prominent efforts was the Secretary of States Project that worked to elect friendly Secretaries of States in certain battleground states in 2006. They had remarkable success in claiming Secretary of State’s offices in eleven of thirteen critical states they had targeted.

These are the state officials charged with the responsibility of ensuring the integrity and honesty of the voting process. We can look at two of those states where their favored candidates won to see how their handiwork pays off.

Minnesota’s Secretary of State in 2008 was Mark Richie (he still is in office). He gave credit for his own victory to the Secretary of States Project, and they trumpeted their own role in helping him get elected, lauding him as “arguably the most progressive Secretary of State in the nation.” Even George Soros chipped in as an individual donor, as did many of the members of the Democracy Alliance.

Another good investment for Soros and Company.

After a hard-fought race, Mark Ritchie certified the Democrat Al Franken as the victor in the tight senatorial race between him and Republican Norm Coleman. The race involved other ploys by the Democracy Alliance that helped Franken become senator (see below). There was a dispute regarding the outcome since the vote totals were so close, and there were suspicious activities at various polling locations; legal challenges were mounted. Notably, George Soros hosted a fundraiser to help pay for Franken’s expenses (such donations are not counted in federal campaign contribution limits).

Recently, there have been serious charges that the votes that put Franken over the top were fraudulent and should not have been counted in his column. Meanwhile Franken sleepwalks through his career as a senator — voting reliably with other Democrats while not ridiculing Republican leaders such as Mitch McConnell.

The SOS Project was also successful in helping Jennifer Brunner become Ohio’s Secretary of State in 2006 (she received over $165,000 from the SOS Project and credited help from the group for her victory). The payoff came quickly in 2008. She declined to hand over to county election boards 200,000 names on voter registration forms where the drivers license or Social Security numbers on the forms did not match the name. She also allowed Election Day registration and failed to purge election rolls of ineligible and dead voters. These are all recognized as invitations for fraud. The Secretary of State Project praised her work — naturally. The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) — the subject of voter fraud investigations across the nation — was also active in Get Out The Vote efforts in Ohio. Barack Obama and other Democrats swept to victory in Ohio.

The Secretary of States Project is still in operation and has expanded into other states over the last few years. While its latest effort to elect allies was swamped by the red tide, the operatives are still there — always on the lookout to put their people in positions of power.

These are the officials who monitor not only federal elections, but also state elections and other powers at the state level. They are among the more powerful of state officials and often go on to run for federal office. One can see what a good investment in a Secretary of State can lead to.

Stealth Attacks

George Soros and his minions excel at attacks that fly beneath the radar screen but can lead to devastating results for Republicans. They have created an operation for engaging in such political warfare that has been “franchised” in states across America.

A case study for their modus operandi can be found, as heretofore mentioned, in Minnesota.

I wrote about the underhanded tactics used by Soros and his pals in my 2008 article “The Soros Connection in the Minnesota Senate Race.” A network of groups funded by members of the Democracy Alliance raised spurious charges that threw mud at Coleman (charges that went nowhere and vanished after Franken’s “victory”). The charges were picked up by the echo chamber that Soros has created in the blogosphere and bubbled up into the mainstream media. Investigations were advocated. It was all smoke with little fire — but it damaged Coleman.

Fred Barnes wrote a very insightful column for the Weekly Standard (“The Colorado Model: The Democrats’ Plan for Turning Red States Blue”) which showed how a similar effort by a small core of wealthy liberals turned Colorado from a red state to a blue state. Scathing allegations were raised; the fire was fanned into a conflagration, and it burned a lot of Republicans at the state and federal level. Then the charges all but vanished. Mission accomplished. A superb book, The Blueprint: How the Democrats Won Colorado (and Why Republicans Everywhere Should Care, also opens the pages of the playbook used by this cadre.

The plan was a success, and like many successful operations, it was cloned in other states. The franchise spread. At the apex of the operation was a group called the Fund For America, another 527 group funded by Soros and other Democracy Alliance members. This group seeded state level groups throughout America to replicate the type of operations that succeeded in Minnesota and Colorado.

One picture says it all — this one titled “Money and Influence Behind a Liberal Network”:

See picture

Alliance for a Better Minnesota was the so-called grassroots effort by Minnesotans that spread attacks against Norm Coleman. As can be graphically seen, it was an Astroturf group funded by wealthy donors who may be able to locate the Land of 10,000 Lakes on a map but otherwise have no ties to the state. While the amounts of money (and probably advice) may appear small, Soros and others among his allies can funnel money through other means.

Many states have looser restrictions regarding the amounts individuals, PACs, and other groups may donate to candidates. The monitoring and reporting of donations are much less rigorous than they are at the federal level. A lot of money can flow to candidates, and the citizens may remain completely in the dark regarding the sources and the amounts. In many ways, states are an ideal location for the type of mischief and scheming that Soros and his allies practice.

Of course, what the graphic also illustrates is that similar groups have been funded in various states. The plan has been franchised; tentacles have spread; the puppets are hooked. The groups are primed to take action when opportunities to advance the Soros agenda present themselves.

The action taken by MoveOn.Org to influence shale gas development in Pennsylvania is another manifestation of Soros and his allies operating at the state level. Why would a Soros-supported group that used to focus its campaigns against Republicans at the federal level shift course and focus on an individual state? (One clue: it may relate to Soros’s energy investments.)

Will we see other Soros-controlled groups engage in steps to influence actions at the state level?

The Media: A Force Multiplier

These operations might be cloaked in secrecy, but they also depend on the media to magnify their efforts. Therefore, it is intriguing that Soros has recently invested more money in his media operations.

The National Public Radio grant that has been widely broadcast (at least by one network) will put two “journalists” in each state capital in America. Their stated role is to report on state governments and their actions. Do these journalists know who butters their bread? Will that affect their reporting? Does it even matter since NPR is chock full of liberals anyway who would likely support the Soros agenda?

Soros looks for emerging opportunities-talented hedge-fund operator that he is.

As the media — particularly newspapers — have fallen on hard times, they have reduced their coverage of the news and created an opening for Soros (and his allies, Herb and Marion Sandler, who have created their own “investigative group” to deliver news, free of charge, to cash-strapped media outlets — “news” that seems agenda-driven).

One can envision scenarios where the news coming from state capitols will favor liberal causes and shine a positive light on politicians who would promote a Soros-based agenda. At the same time, those who oppose this agenda will be either ignored or attacked (Media Matters was recently generously funded by George Soros to engage in attacks against Fox News — and this was before Glenn Beck’s series on Soros).

Will the Soros-supported media honestly report on the goings-on in state capitols? Will journalists who know the ultimate source of their money promote certain ballot measures? We turn to this topic now as we continue to explore Soros-world.

Soros and the Ballots

George Soros has been promoting and paying for state ballot initiatives to put in place policies he favors.

While his marijuana legalization effort in California has now been publicized (and went down in flames), he has been trying to peddle the pro-pot line in states across the country for years. His efforts have “earned” him the sobriquet “Daddy Weedbucks” from the drug culture magazine Heads. He also tried to help drug dealers by pouring money into a Utah initiative that would have restricted the power of states to confiscate the property of busted drug dealers. He and his allies, by the way, have not given up on California — they are gearing up to retool the proposition and get it passed in 2012.

But that is just one part of his agenda.

He also funded a 2004 effort in California for a proposition that would have softened and repealed some of the provisions of a Three Strikes initiative that imposes higher penalties on criminals who commit three felonies. The effort narrowly failed, but there is a postscript. George Soros finally agreed five years later to pay a fine to California’s Fair Political Practices Commission for failing to properly disclose his $500,000 in donations made to promote this proposition.

He also has promoted Ohio’s Minimum Wage Initiative (while there is a federal minimum wage law, states are free to pass their own higher wage laws).

Soros also funded a 2010 California ballot measure that would have put control of redistricting back in the hands of the state legislature (from a non-partisan group now) — a move that would have obviously benefited Democrats. The effort failed. One may ask why Soros, who does not live in California, felt compelled to weigh in on that state’s redistricting. Was it to earn “chits” from Democrats to be cashed in at some future date?

The Judicial Branch Should Bend to the Will of George Soros

There is more — endless are the ways in which Soros seeks to influence actions on the state level. The state where Soros most recently tried to pull a fast one is Nevada — another state where he has no residence. A November ballot measure was the first salvo in a nationwide campaign to end state judicial elections. The responsibility to pick judges would be taken away from voters and instead put in the hands of a nominating commission who would select a slate to present to the governor, who would then choose judges from the choices handed to him. The process is manipulated by bar associations (often left-wing) that fill the slate with left-wing judges.

The Wall Street Journal opined recently about this gambit:

That’s a nifty outcome for liberal groups who see the state courts as the next frontier for moving political agendas. The Nevada initiative is part of a nationwide effort supported by George Soros, among others, to eliminate judicial elections in state courts. Through groups such as Justice at Stake, Mr. Soros’s Open Society Institute has spent some $45 million on the cause nationwide, according to numbers tracked by the American Justice Partnership. Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has emerged as an unofficial spokesman for the effort, but the big money is coming from the political left. Nevada is viewed as a test drive….

Judicial elections aren’t always pretty, but they do provide an important check on a branch of government that has itself become increasingly political. A system in which Governors can nominate anyone subject to legislative approval can also work, as it does for the federal courts.

But the worst system is to subcontract the third branch of government to a judicial elite who give elected officials little leeway. While parading as “merit” selections, these judges are political choices as much as any elected by voters.

Soros is not interested in checks and balances. He is interested in controlling as many levers of power in states that he can, and his guiding philosophy is that the ends justifies the means.

Clearly, his left-wing agenda can be furthered by promoting the careers of friendly politicians, including those who might occupy key positions in the power structure. These would include secretaries of state, who have the duty of ensuring the integrity of the voting process. Then legislators who feel beholden to Soros and his left-wing agenda can pass laws, or, even better, Soros and his minions can promote ballot measures that persuade people to vote for the policies Soros and his partners advocate. But laws are always subject to interpretation. Who interprets the law? Judges do.

What Is the Agenda of George Soros?

While concern has been focused on the Leviathan that the federal government has become, states still have a great deal of power in various areas. Would Soros pull some strings to have states pass Renewable Energy Standards that would help him profit from green energy investments (he has announced plans to invest one billion dollars in this clean energy)? Will state environmental protection agencies target carbon as the enemy?

Will cities and states continue to loosen voting standards?

George Soros has union allies, and his efforts are often linked to the actions of the Service Employees International Union. (Anna Burger was a senior official of the SEIU who recently resigned; as can be seen in the diagram above, she plays a key role in the Democracy Alliance.)

Will Soros use his sway to help out union allies via minimum wage and card check laws? Or will state officials engage in such trickery as was displayed recently in Michigan, where independent day care workers suddenly found themselves categorized as government employees and discovered, to their chagrin, they were also enrolled in a public-employee union? This was all due to the machinations of Democrats in Michigan who perpetrated a stealth attack on these workers to bolster union membership.

Will a state-influenced by George Soros and his allies be able to take a firm stance toward illegal immigration, or will states become de facto sanctuaries for illegal aliens? After all, Soros basically believes that there should be no borders.

Will states continue to file lawsuits against ObamaCare and resist its imposition?

The list of his past agendas goes on and on.

The modus operandi of George Soros has been the same for decades, whether playing with money or with politics. Find opportunities that have escaped most people’s attention, exploit them, and gain wealth and power.

He has done it over and over, and he may very well be doing it in now in your very own state — except it is not just your state, but also a state that Soros seems to consider his to own.


  • Billionaire philanthropic allies of George Soros and Peter Lewis
  • Played a key role in the financial crisis of 2008

Born in 1931, Herbert M. Sandler grew up on the Lower East Side of New York. During the 1950s, he became assistant counsel to the Waterfront Commission, combating crime in the port of New York and New Jersey. Marion Sandler, two years Herbert’s senior, was born Marion Osher in Biddeford, Maine. She received her BA from Wellesley College and her MBA from New York University.

In 1963, two years after marrying, the couple moved to California and opened the Golden West Financial Corporation. With their new holding company, the Sandlers were able to secure bank loans plus additional funds from Marion’s family to purchase, for $3.8 million, the Oakland-based Golden West Savings and Loan, which had assets of $38 million.

In 1975 the Sandlers combined Golden West S&L with another California firm, World Savings, which had 107 offices and $1.8 billion in assets. Taking advantage of regulations passed in 1981, the Sandlers’ World Savings Bank steadily grew, specializing in the first-of-their-kind adjustable rate mortgages that allowed borrowers to defer paying their interest.

By 2000, the World Savings Bank — with 450 locations and assets of $58 billion — had become the second largest savings and loan in America. On July 19, 2001, Nancy Pelosiinducted the Sandlers into the Bay Area Business Hall of Fame for their “longstanding entrepreneurial and philanthropic commitment to the San Francisco community.”

In 1988 the Sandlers had established the Sandler Family Supporting Foundation (SF), whose assets, by 2002, totaled $71,894,602. In its first 15 years of operation, SF gave tens of millions of dollars to Human Rights Watch and the ACLU. By 2000, the Sanders had become philanthropic allies of George Soros. Together with Soros, they funded and helped to establish the Center for American Progress, on whose board of directors Marion served. In 2004, along with Soros and Peter Lewis, the Sandlers created America Votes in order to bolster Democratic get-out-the-vote drives during the 2004 election season. In 2006, the Sandlers also founded and financed Pro Publica, an investigative journalism outfit.

The Sandlers have had noteworthy connections to ACORN and the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), an ACORN ally that championed the Community Reinvestment Act(CRA) before the financial meltdown of 2008.  In 2002 the Sandlers co-founded CRL and gave it $20 million over the next six years. From 2001 to 2008, the Sandler Family Foundation also gave ACORN and its various front groups — particularly Project Vote and the American Institute for Social Justice — more than $7 million. Former ACORNemployees have claimed that the Sandlers paid ACORN to dispatch protesters to harass Wells Fargo Bank, a major competitor of the Sandlers’ Golden West.

In contrast to their allies George Soros and Peter Lewis, the Sandlers were able to maintain a low public profile for years. They made headlines in October 2006, however, when they sold their World Savings Bank for $24.3 billion to the Wachovia Corporation, pocketing $2.4 billion and putting $1.4 billion into their foundation, making it one of the thirty largest foundations in the America.

At the time of the sale, the Sandlers’ World Savings Bank carried $122 billion in adjustable rate mortgages. In 2008, Wachovia began to implode due to a lack of liquidity and was eventually bought out by Wells Fargo in October of that year. Many analysts contend that the “soaring portfolio of World Savings” helped to sink Wachovia. Herbert Sandler, however, has defended his business practices: “I didn’t mislead anybody, and to the best of my knowledge, our company didn’t, though there may have been an isolated case here and there.” “If home prices hadn’t declined by 50 percent, nobody would be raising these questions,” he stated in 2008.

On October 4, 2008, however, Saturday Night Live aired a skit in which the Sandlers were depicted as predatory lenders. Under their names, SNL placed the caption “people who should be shot.” Compounding the Sandlers’ negative press was a Time magazine list that identified them as two of the “25 people to blame for the financial crisis.” The New York Times also labeled the Sandlers “pariahs” – and on December 24, 2008, the Times reported that their mortgages were the “Typhoid Mary” of the housing crisis. On February 15, 2009, CBS’s 60 minutes also aired a segment that featured the Sandlers’ World Savings Bank as one of the primary examples of how the mortgage industry had destroyed itself and unleashed an economic collapse.

On April 22, 2009, the Sandlers wrote a letter to Bill Keller of the New York Times, criticizing the paper’s news coverage of them. The Sandlers defended the adjustable rate mortgages that had defined their financial success, distinguishing between those which their bank had offered consumers and the kind that had caused so much economic disaster. While issuing some corrections, the Times defended its original reporting: “We still stand by our Golden West story and believe it was a very strong piece to pursue and that we framed it fairly.”

On April 26, 2010, the Sandlers also wrote to CBS in an attempt to discredit the 2009 60 minutes episode that had so damaged their reputation. CBS did not issue any correction.

The Spooky Dude George Soros group maps out Obama strategy for next 2 years

Urges president to use executive powers to push ‘progressive agenda’

By Aaron Klein
© 2010 WorldNetDaily

A George Soros-funded think tank with deep ties to the White House has written a roadmap for President Obama to bypass the new Republican Congress and rule for the next two via executive order.

The plan calls for Obama to push a “progressive agenda” on issues of health care, economy, environment, education, federal government and foreign policy.

John Podesta, president of the Communistic Center for American Progress, wrote, “the U.S. Constitution and the laws of our nation grant the president significant authority to make and implement policy,” including in executive orders, diplomacy, rulemaking and commanding the armed forces.

“The ability of President Obama to accomplish important change through these powers should not be underestimated,” he wrote.

Podesta was commenting in introductory remarks to his center’s 54-page treatise entitled, “The Power of the President: Recommendations to Advance Progressive Change.”

The center reportedly was founded in 2003 with seed money from Soros, who also donated $3 million to the center’s sister, the Project Action Fund. Its mission states the group is “dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through progressive ( communistic) ideas and action.”

Podesta, a former chief of staff to Bill Clinton, was co-chairman of the Obama-Biden Transition Project. A Time magazine article profiles the influence of Podesta’s Center for American Progress in the formation of the Obama administration, stating that “not since the Heritage Foundation helped guide Ronald Reagan’s transition in 1981 has a single outside group held so much sway.”

A summary of the center’s map for Obama’s next two years is listed on the group’s website. The center states it is offering “just some of the many possible actions the administration can take using existing authority to move the country forward.”

On energy, the center recommends Obama use executive power to:

  • Reduce oil imports and make progress toward energy independence.
  • Progress toward reducing greenhouse gas pollution by 17 percent by 2020.
  • Conserve federal lands for future generations.
  • Manage public lands to support a balanced energy strategy.
  • Convene and engage hunters and anglers in the development of a fish and wildlife climate adaptation plan.
  • Generate solar energy on U.S. Air Force hangar roofs.

On the domestic economic policy front, the center writes that Obama should:

  • Direct an assessment, strategy, and new policy development to promote U.S. competitiveness.
  • Launch the new consumer financial protection bureau with an aggressive agenda to protect and empower consumers.
  • Increase the capacity of small businesses to expand hiring and purchases by accelerating the implementation of the Small Business Jobs Act.
  • Promote automatic mediation to avoid foreclosure where possible and speed resolution.
  • Create a web portal to empower housing counselors, reduce burdens on lenders, and speed up home mortgage modifications.
  • Help stabilize home values and communities by turning “shadow REO” housing inventory into “scattered site” rental housing.
  • Promote practices that support working families.

On the domestic policy front, the center urges Obama to:

  • Partner with the private sector in health care payment reform.
  • Focus on health care prevention in implementing the Affordable Care Act.
  • Streamline and simplify access to federal antipoverty programs.
  • Replace costly, inhumane immigration detention policies with equally effective measures.

In the education policy arena, the president can:

  • Launch an “educational productivity” initiative to help school districts spend every dollar wisely to best prepare our children for the 21st century.
  • Ensure students can compare financial aid offers from different postsecondary institutions.
  • Improve the quality, standards, and productivity of postsecondary education.

In “improving the performance of the federal government,” the center says the president should:

  • Scrutinize federal spending programs and tax expenditures to achieve greater returns on public investment.
  • Build the next-generation website to track all public expenditures and performance in real time.
  • Use new information technology for faster, more transparent freedom of information.
  • Create a virtual U.S. statistical agency.
  • Collect data on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans in federal data surveys.

And in the foreign policy and national security arena, the president and his administration should:

  • Rebalance our Afghanistan strategy with greater emphasis on political and diplomatic progress.
  • Promote domestic revenue generation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • Appoint a special envoy for the Horn of Africa and the southwest Arabian Peninsula region.
  • Appoint a special commission to assess contracting practices in national security and foreign affairs.
  • Use executive branch authority to mitigate the impact of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy if Congress does not repeal it.
  • Redouble support for Palestinian state- and institution-building efforts.
  • Pursue dual-track policy on Iran while sharpening focus on Iranian human rights issues.
  • Reinvigorate the U.S.-Turkey strategic alliance. Develop a comprehensive policy on the Russia-Georgia conflict.

WND reported previously when the Institute for Policy Studies, a Marxist-oriented think-tank in Washington, and also funded by Soros, made a similar suggestion.

“Progressives won in the 2010 mid-term elections,” wrote Karen Dolan, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, or IPS, and director of the Cities for Progress and Cities for Peace projects based at the radical organization.

“The Congressional Progressive Caucus, the largest caucus in the House Democratic Caucus at over 80 members, emerged virtually unscathed, losing only three members,” she wrote, in the piece published on the IPS website.

Dolan declared that “our work is now finally beginning.”

“The veil of a happy Democratic governing majority is finally lifted. We didn’t have it then; We don’t have it now. But what we do have now is a more solidly progressivebunch of Dems in Congress and a president presumably less encumbered by the false illusion that playing nice will get him a date with the other team.”

She went on to recommend that progressives “throw our support unabashedly behind the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and let’s push Obama to finally do the right thing through as many Executive Orders as we can present to him.”

With additional research by Brenda J. Elliott



Democracy Alliance: Billionaires for Big Government

What’s Next for George Soros’s Democracy Alliance?

The Democracy Alliance (DA) is maturing. After several years of internal strife, management squabbles, a few political purges, and frustrating electoral setbacks, the group whose mission is to tilt American politics leftward has found its footing. The DA is becoming what leftist blogger Markos Moulitsas of DailyKos fame called for in 2005: “A vast, Vast Left Wing Conspiracy to rival” the conservative movement. It relies less on traditional Democratic Shadow Party “machine” politics, which typically draws upon fat cats, institutions (the party itself, labor unions), and single-issue advocacy groups (pro-abortion rights groups, the National Education Association and other teacher unions). Although it is officially nonpartisan, the DA has cultivated deep and extensive ties to the Shadow Democratic Party establishment.

Senator Hillary Clinton’s good friend, Kelly Craighead, runs the Alliance’s day-to-day operations. Clinton brags that she has helped create what she calls “a lot of the new progressive infrastructure.” Last August Clinton told the Yearly Kos convention of left-wing bloggers that she “helped to start and support” Media Matters for America and the Center for American Progress (CAP), two recipients of DA grants. Media Matters is headed by conservative turncoat David Brock; CAP is headed John Podesta, Bill Clinton’s White House chief of staff. (Washington Times, December 3, 2007)

The Alliance’s principal architect, Democratic operative Rob Stein, has promised that the Alliance will become less secretive as it starts to fund a wider array of political programs and projects. In fact, the DA has engineered to date more than $100 million in contributions from its wealthy members to liberal groups sympathetic to the Democratic Party, and it has the blessing of Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman Howard Dean.

But problems remain. Democrats can’t be sure that they are masterminding a grand reversal of Newt Gingrich’s 1994 Republican “Revolution.” Democrats control Congress and the prospects for retaining Congress and capturing the White House this year look better than ever. Still, the liberal grip on power is tenuous, and anything can happen. They haven’t forgotten that the resurgence of their party had seemed improbable just three years ago when the Alliance was created, a time when the Washington punditry pronounced a national Republican realignment a done deal.

DA members have concluded that the Democratic Party still lacks a coherent message despite its victories in the November 2006 elections. That midterm vote was more against the GOP than for Democrats. “What was done was to fire some people in Washington and give other people a chance,” said Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius at a Miami meeting of the Alliance after the midterms. “But it’s not an endorsement of an agenda.” Said CAP’s Podesta: “We still haven’t cracked the übermessage. We still haven’t gotten into people’s minds a picture of what a progressive America would look like.”

Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo believes the Iraq war is a political godsend filling up the Democrats’ political void. At the Miami meeting Cuomo bluntly told DA members: “Now it’s 2006 and we’re all rejoicing. Why? Because of Iraq. A gift. A gift to the Democrats. A lot of whom voted for the war anyway.” The liberal icon who wowed Democrats at the party’s 1984 convention with his “Tale of Two Cities” speech, added: “Where does that leave you? It leaves you in the same position you were in 2004—without an issue. Because you have no big idea.” Democracy Alliance chairman Rob McKay, the Taco Bell heir, cautioned members against becoming complacent despite winning the midterms: “The wounded right-wing beast may be more dangerous than ever.”

Many Democracy Alliance members think the Democratic Party’s future success requires ideological re-branding. They may question whether the word progressive is a political winner, but they know liberal isn’t. Asked last summer if she would call herself a “liberal,” Hillary Clinton backed away from the label, noting that liberalism “describes big government.” She preferred “progressive,” which has a “real American meaning.” The Gallup Poll suggests Clinton is on to something: A survey last fall showed that 43% of Americans called themselves Democrats while only 30% called themselves Republicans. By contrast, only 23% of voters called themselves liberals, while 39% said they were conservatives.

“The liberal brand is tarnished,” said Alliance member Rob Glaser, who heads the online multimedia company RealNetworks. He wants to “change the political paradigm” and treat the word “progressive” as a thing “that’s nurtured and managed just like any other brand.” To test his theory, Glaser teamed up with Podesta’s CAP and spent $600,000 on TV ads in the Midwest over a three-week period. He proudly claims liberals in the test areas subsequently rechristened themselves progressives. However, CAP research shows that as much as 40% of the public has no clue what “progressive” means.

The Origins of the Democracy Alliance

In 2003, Democratic Party activists and supporters began to coalesce around an informal coalition they called the Phoenix Group, which was later to be renamed the Democracy Alliance. Donors gave millions of dollars to liberal candidates and 527 political committees, but there was no electoral payoff in November 2004. Despondent, a small group of the wealthiest Democrats met in San Francisco a month after the election for sober reflection on John Kerry’s failure to win the presidency. George Soros, Progressive Insurance chairman Peter B. Lewis, and S&L tycoons Herb and Marion Sandler felt let down, seduced by the siren song of pollsters and the mainstream media who had assured them that Kerry would triumph over an incumbent president in wartime. Around the same time another group of wealthy Democratic donors met in Washington, D.C. feeling the same way. “The U.S. didn’t enter World War II until Japan bombed Pearl Harbor,” political consultant Erica Payne told attendees. “We just had our Pearl Harbor.”

In April 2005, Soros and the other major players assembled a large group for a secret planning session. Seventy millionaires and billionaires met in Phoenix, Arizona, to discuss how to develop a long-term strategy. The attendees including former Clinton White House aides Mike McCurry, Sidney Blumenthal, and LBJ staffer turned PBS talking head Bill Moyers, listened as officials from all the pro-Democratic Party 527 groups on which they had lavished millions of dollars explained why they failed to deliver the election to Kerry.

Three quarters of the members at the meeting voted that the Alliance should not “retain close ties to the Democratic Party.” A survey showed most were from 45 to 65 years of age and that three quarters hailed from the East or West coasts. Some 38% described themselves as “progressive,” compared to 24% who called themselves “liberal” and 7% who were content with the label “Democrats.” Not surprisingly, 84% thought the conservative movement was “a fundamental threat to the American way of life.”

Former Clinton official Rob Stein, a personable attorney whose voice lacks the edge and anger of Howard Dean, urged members to pay closer attention to conservatives who had spent four decades investing in ideas and institutions with staying power. Stein showed his PowerPoint presentation to political operatives and financiers willing to take an oath to keep it confidential. Called “The Conservative Message Machine’s Money Matrix,” Stein showed a series of graphs and charts depicting an intricate network of organizations, funders, and activists that comprised what he said was the conservative movement. “This is perhaps the most potent, independent, institutionalized apparatus ever assembled in a democracy to promote one belief system,” Stein said.

Reminiscing about his “Money Matrix” tour, Stein recalled liberals’ anguish:

“There was also a deep passion about a set of values and belief that weren’t being surfaced, that weren’t being heard, that we couldn’t find language or messages to communicate. And there was an unbelievable frustration, particularly among the donor class on the center-left, with trying to one-off everything – with every single one of them being a single, ‘silo’ donor and not having the ability to communicate effectively with a network of donors. So those were really the reasons people came together.” (“How Vast the Left Wing Conspiracy,” held by the Hudson Institute’s Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civil Renewal, November 30, 2006; full transcript available at

Stein believed the left could not compete electorally because it was hopelessly outgunned by the right’s political infrastructure. By his tally, the right spent $170 million a year on think tanks, versus the left’s $85 million. The right spent $35 million on legal advocacy organizations, while the left anted up a mere $5 million. The right spent $8 million to train young conservatives at Morton Blackwell’s Leadership Institute, while the left spent almost nothing. The result, Stein reasoned, was that conservatives not only won elections, but also changed the national political debate. By contrast to well-endowed conservatives, liberal activist groups and think tanks were hard up for cash, competing with each other for the same pool of funds rather than working toward shared objectives. Stein’s curious calculus flattered conservatives and shamed the left by finding a great imbalance in their revenues. But oddly, he did not count academic programs and institutes, grantmaking by the great foundations, or the resources of the mainstream media as adjuncts of the political left. The great delusion of Democracy Alliance donors is that conservatives comprise a “vast right wing conspiracy.”

Stein felt Democrats had grown accustomed to thinking of themselves as the natural majority party. As a result, the party had become a top-down organization run by professional politicians who cared little about donors’ concerns. He was convinced that the Democratic Party’s hierarchy had to be turned upside-down: Donors should fund an ideological movement that would dictate policies to the politicians. Activists, who had infused the party with new money and new energy, were fed up with perceived Democratic dithering and were demanding more say in party affairs. Said Eli Pariser, a young activist in the group “Now it’s our party: we bought it, we own it, and we’re going to take it back.”

Democratic donors aggravated by the GOP’s electoral success latched on to Stein’s vision. “The new breed of rich and frustrated leftists” saw themselves as oppressed both by “a Republican conspiracy” and “by their own party and its insipid Washington establishment,” writes journalist Matt Bai, author of the new book, The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics. “This, more than anything else, was what drew them to Rob Stein’s presentation,” writes Bai.

Stein’s presentation won converts and in 2005 the Democracy Alliance was born. It was an odd name for a loose collection of super-rich donors committed to building organizations that would propel America to the left.

Speed Bumps on the Road to Socialism

In its short time on the political scene, the Democracy Alliance has been shaken by dissent and strife, much of which is newly detailed in Matt Bai’s book.

DA partners booted out Erica Payne, the political consultant who invoked the image of Pearl Harbor to rally the troops in 2004. Payne created bad blood when she led an effort to oust Rob Stein as DA chief. Stein’s successor was Judy Wade, a former McKinsey & Company management consultant and graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. But Wade was considered tactless and was fired from her $400,000-a-year job at a post-2006 election meeting of the Democracy Alliance board. Board members promised to streamline the group’s Byzantine grant-making process and brought Stein back to the group’s inner circle. Hillary Clinton’s friend, Kelly Craighead, who was a senior aide to Clinton when she was First Lady, replaced Wade and all but one member of a “reform” slate of candidates pushed by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) was elected to the board.

Meanwhile, Bernard L. Schwartz, former CEO of Loral Space & Communications and one of the largest donors to the Democratic National Committee in the 1990s, quit the DA because he thought it lacked direction. “They were looking for who they should be when they grow up, and whoever had the latest idea, they went off in that direction,” he told Bai just before the 2006 elections. (Schwartz’s wife, Irene, is the president of the Bernard and Irene Schwartz Foundation, and both spouses are close friends of the Clintons. The Schwartz Foundation has given $450,000 to the William J. Clinton Foundation since 2000, and in 2003 it gave $500,000 to Clinton’s presidential library. Schwartz is also a big supporter of the New America Foundation, a liberal think tank that seems to steer clear of the more political calculations of the Democracy Alliance.) Schwartz is also active in the Horizon Project, a self-described group of “policy innovators.” Its February 2007 report urged Congress to implement “a Marshall-type Plan for America” that would force all Americans to carry health insurance and that would eliminate federal income taxes for K-12 teachers, a key Democratic Party constituency.

In May 2006 former president Bill Clinton dropped by a DA meeting for a friendly greeting, but got into a shouting match when DA member Guy Saperstein asked why Democrats wouldn’t apologize for supporting the Iraq war. Clinton went on a 10-minute tirade, yelling that if he had been in Congress, he would have voted to authorize the war, (a position Clinton subsequently contradicted in November 2007 while campaigning for his wife in Iowa). Angry, Clinton wagged a finger at Saperstein, telling him he was “wrong, wrong, wrong.” The impeached former president urged DA members to move on:

“Look, if that vote was a mistake, then it’s a mistake I would have made, but you’re just wrong. This is not productive! You’re asking people to flagellate themselves! What you do tomorrow is all that matters. Only in this party do we eat our own. You can go on misrepresenting and bashing our own people, but I am sick and tired of it. Stop looking back and finger pointing, and ask what we should do now.”

Saperstein, an Oakland, California attorney was incensed. “It was an extraordinary display of anger and imperiousness,” he said. “Clinton’s response was a not-so-subtle warning to partners to avoid divisive issues, like the war, that might harm his wife in the next presidential election,” wrote Ari Berman of the leftist Nation magazine.

Campaign Donations Favor Shadow Democrats – Big Time

In 2008, political observers may well wonder whether the Democratic Party needs the pushy billionaires of the Democracy Alliance. No matter how the data are sliced and diced, in the current election cycle Democrats are clobbering Republicans in fundraising.

In the race for president, Democrats lead Republicans by $244.4 million to $175.3 million. In House races, Democrats are beating Republicans $140.9 million to $98.7 million. In Senate races, Democrats lead $62.8 million to $49.6 million. (Federal Election Commission data as of November 27, 2007, from Of contributions by donors giving $200 or more to candidates or parties, 57% of funds went to Democrats compared to just 43% to Republicans ($313.8 million to Democrats versus $236.9 million to Republicans). (FEC data released September 24, 2007, from

Corporate America now leans left. A year ago, six of the ten top-giving industries gave more to the GOP, but the watchdog Center for Responsive Politics finds that all are now giving more to Democrats. (The Politico, October 15, 2007) Of more than $577 million donated by business, 56% has gone to Democrats, 44% to Republicans. (FEC data as of October 29, 2007, from

In 2006, Democrat-friendly donors dominated the list of the top 21 donors to 527s, the issue-driven tax-exempt groups not regulated by the FEC. They seem likely to do so again. The Service Employees International Union, an institutional member of the DA, topped the 2006 list with almost $33 million. Other top 527 donors associated with the Alliance include Soros Fund Management ($3,445,000), America Votes ($2,345,000), Peter B. Lewis/Progressive Corp. ($1,624,375), and the Gill Foundation ($1,181,355). Corporations and labor unions, which cannot give directly to political parties or candidates to federal office, may make unlimited contributions to 527s. The only (wink wink) restriction: the law forbids political parties and 527s from “coordinating” their activities. (Data from the IRS is October 3, 2007, based on disclosure reports, found at

Another big change from 2004: As federal regulators clamp down on 527 political organizations, wealthy donors are giving heavily to politically active 501(c)(4) lobby organizations. Contributions to 501(c)(4) lobby groups are not tax-deductible, unlike gifts to 501(c)(3) charities. However, unlike 527s, 501(c)(4) groups are not required to disclose the names of their donors.

Still, 527s are useful. In November, DA chairman Rob McKay and his lieutenants, SEIU’s Anna Burger and CAP’s John Podesta registered a new 527 group called The Fund for America. The new entity could pump “perhaps $100 million or more into media buys and voter outreach in the run-up to the 2008 elections,” Roll Call reported November 12. A “well-placed” but unidentified source said, “They intend to raise money and spend money on [unregulated] soft money operations, voter contact through existing organizations or new organizations.”

Structure and Leadership

The DA filed its corporate registration in the District of Columbia in January 2005. Little money passes through Alliance bank accounts because it is a middle man that puts donors together with causes deemed worthy of support. At press time, only two grants to the DA showed up in the FoundationSearch philanthropy database, and both went to the Democracy Alliance “Innovation Fund,” which Stein told a Hudson Institute panel is “a very small thing…that makes very small grants” to 501(c)(3) groups. The fund took in a $50,000 grant in 2006 by the Enfranchisement Foundation, and a $50,000 grant the year before by the Stephen M. Silberstein Foundation.

Rob Stein explained the group’s legal structure to the Hudson panel:

“It is a taxable nonprofit. Think of it as a corporation that does not make a profit and doesn’t aspire to make a profit. We’re an association of individuals. We have a board of directors – 13 people elected by the partners. And we file corporate papers regularly and comply with all disclosure requirements.”

In other words, the DA has no interest in asking the IRS to register it as tax-exempt or to allow contributions to it to be tax-deductible. Were the DA to request tax-exemption as a 501(c)(4) lobby group or as a 527 political group, it would have to abide by a dizzying array of legal constraints. Members of the Democracy Alliance may want to impose Big Government bureaucracy and red tape on Americans, but the friends of George Soros are too rich to be bothered.

The DA’s board is a microcosm of the modern left. In the top rungs are a limousine liberal, a labor activist, and a peacenik from the 1960s. DA chairman Rob McKay is also president of the McKay Family Foundation, a director of Vanguard Public Foundation, co-chairman of Mother Jones magazine, board member of the Ms. Foundation for Women, and a blogger on the Huffington Post website. He was born in conservative Orange County, California and his parents were Republicans. The DA vice chairman is Anna Burger, sometimes known as the “Queen of Labor.” She is secretary-treasurer of the militant SEIU and chairman of Change to Win, the labor federation formed after SEIU joined other unions in breaking away from the AFL-CIO. Gannett News Service called Burger arguably “the most influential woman in the U.S. labor movement.” Drummond Pike, founder of the ultra-liberal Tides Foundation, is the DA’s treasurer. In 2003, Pike endorsed the document, “10 Reasons Environmentalists Oppose an Attack on Iraq,” which was published by Environmentalists Against War.


The Democracy Alliance does not endorse candidates for public office. Stein describes it as a “gathering place,” “learning environment,” “debating society,” and “investment club.” The DA is “a big tent, a convener for the full spectrum of center-left thought and perspective.”

This emerging vanguard of the proletariat is hardly open to the common rabble because its members must satisfy one requirement: They must be rich. Members, who are called “partners,” pay an initial $25,000 fee and $30,000 in yearly dues. They also must pledge to give at least $200,000 annually to groups that the Alliance endorses. Partners meet two times a year in committees to decide on grants, which focus on four areas: media, ideas, leadership, and civic engagement. Recommendations are then made to the DA board, which passes them on to all DA partners. The Alliance discourages partners from discussing DA affairs with the media, and it requires its grant recipients to sign nondisclosure agreements.

While the Alliance’s structure makes it hard to find precise figures for its grantmaking, Matt Bai wrote in a Los Angeles Times op-ed September 23 that DA members have “thus far poured more than $100 million into building what they call a ‘progressive infrastructure.’” (A separate L.A. Times news article November 13 pegged the total sum at closer to $85 million.) Before she was shown the door, Judy Wade had voiced the hope that the Alliance would eventually help members give out $500 million in grants annually.

Early DA meetings were guarded by security forces and shredding machines were on hand to dispose of documents deemed sensitive. But at the Hudson panel discussion in late 2006 Stein promised a new era of glasnost. Nowadays meetings, while closed to the public, sometimes include journalists. Stein promised there will “absolutely, positively” be “more transparency from the Democracy Alliance.” However, he dismissed as a “canard” the idea that the DA hid behind a veil of “super-secrecy,” noting that it had cooperated with the Washington Post and the Nation magazine on stories about it. He told the Hudson Institute audience that about 400 organizations in the DA database were eligible for funding but that “roughly 380-something of those groups” had not received any.

No grants were decided at the DA’s April 2005 organizing meeting in Phoenix. However, DA partners pledged $39 million, about $13 million of which came from Soros and Lewis alone, at the October 2005 meeting at the Chateau Elan Winery & Resort in Atlanta, Georgia. Some smaller, less prominent groups were reportedly miffed that they were not considered for grants.

The next meeting, held in Austin, Texas in May 2006, signaled that the Democracy

Alliance was perhaps becoming less a gathering of very rich donors and more a meeting of the usual suspects, the interest groups. SEIU president Andrew Stern spoke and money-hungry grant-seekers were allowed to network with DA partners. SEIU pledged $5 million to DA-approved groups. Stern also tried unsuccessfully to get DA partners to fund labor’s public relations campaign against Wal-Mart. He told attendees that liberals needed to be flexible in their policy prescriptions and resist the temptation to reflexively defend existing government programs. Stern said he wanted national health care, child care and better public schools but was open to dismantling some entitlement programs, trying out school choice or revamping the tax code. Even trade, normally a hot-button issue for the labor movement, is on the table. “You can’t stop globalization. You can’t stop trade. That debate is over,” he said. Following Stern’s appearance at the Austin meeting, the rival AFL-CIO thought it wise to purchase membership in the DA.

With an eye on the approaching November 2006 elections, the Alliance decided to give another $22 million to 16 groups focused on electoral politics. These groups included the Center for Community Change, USAction, ACORN, EMILY’s List, and the Sierra Club.

The Alliance reportedly met in Washington, D.C., in early November 2007, but it is unclear what business was transacted.

Selected Grant Recipients

It’s understandable that ultra-successful business people in the Alliance have little but disdain for the Democratic Party’s high-priced political consultants and conventional politicking: they think the party should be run more like a business. DA partners have divided their giving into what Rob Stein calls the “four buckets”: ideas, media, leadership training, and civic engagement.

Partners pour cash into those pails and then ladle it out to approved left-wing groups. One group denied funding is the little-known Third Way: Strategy Center for Progressives. Third Way favors free trade and publicly sided with Hillary Clinton when she urged that more troops be used in the fight against terrorism. Third Way’s board of trustees includes Lewis Cullman, Herbert Miller, and Bernard Schwartz. (Cullman and Miller are members of DA, but Schwartz left the Alliance in 2006.) A bloc of DA partners led by Guy Saperstein killed Third Way’s funding request. “The alliance, these partners said, didn’t have room for self-described centrists whose main goal was to appease Republicans,” according to Bai. Other organizations reportedly denied DA funding include the Progressive Book Club, the American Prospect magazine, the Campaign for America’s Future, the Democrat Leadership Council and the Truman National Security Project.

There is no publicly available tally of Democracy Alliance-approved grants, but here are some grant recipients and amounts reported in the media.

*Media Matters for America: This group headed by former conservative journalist David Brock, known for his aggressive reporting on the Clintons, claims to expose right-wing news bias. Its self-described mission involves monitoring “conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.” Brock has generated at least $7 million for Media Matters through the DA. While Brock and Senator Clinton are reportedly not the best of friends, she has helped Media Matters and has close ties to the group. Kelly Craighead, one of Hillary Clinton’s closest friends (she was married by Clinton who acted as a justice of the peace), was a top paid advisor to Media Matters when it was set up (Newsday, September 7, 2006). Craighead is currently the Alliance’s managing director, and in 2007, the group’s website credited her with “aligning more than $60 million in Alliance Partner investments.” (For more on this group, see “Media Matters for America: Soros-Funded Watchdog Attacks Conservatives,” by Rondi Adamson, Foundation Watch, July 2007)

*Center for American Progress: Former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta heads the think tank that has received at least $9 million through the DA. According to Bai, the “vast majority” of the funding came from Soros, Peter Lewis, and the Sandlers. CAP aspires to be a counterpart to the Heritage Foundation, uniting disparate factions on the left. CAP spin-offs include Campus Progress and the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a 501(c)(4) lobby group. Hillary Clinton takes partial credit for creating CAP, and maintains close ties to it. Reporter Robert Dreyfuss wrote that, “It’s not completely wrong to see [CAP] as a shadow government, a kind of Clinton White-House-in-exile—or a White House staff in readiness for President Hillary Clinton.” (The Nation, March 1, 2004) (For more on CAP, see “The Center for American Progress: ‘Think Tank On Steroids,’” by John Gizzi, Organization Trends, May 2007)

*Democracy: A Journal of Ideas: DA partners have given $25,000 to the start-up publication founded by former White House speechwriters Andrei Cherny and Kenneth Baer. Soros’s Open Society Institute gave the journal $50,000.

*People for the American Way: In 2006 the DA approved a grant to this vocal activist group, founded by Alliance member Norman Lear, but the amount is unknown. Its president emeritus is Ralph Neas. Hollywood actors Alec Baldwin and Kathleen Turner, along with socialite Bianca Jagger, sit on its foundation’s board of directors.

*New Democratic Network (NDN): This activist group, which encompasses the NDN Political Fund, the New Politics Institute, and

the Hispanic Strategy Center is headed by Simon Rosenberg. Rosenberg was previously a television news writer and producer, and political strategist for the Dukakis and Clinton presidential campaigns. The DA approved a grant to this group in 2006 but the amount is unknown.

*Progressive Majority: This group, created in 2001, focuses on electing left-wingers at the state and local level and developing a “farm team” of progressive candidates. Its founder and president is Gloria A. Totten, formerly political director for NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League) Pro-Choice America. DA grants to this group total at least $5 million.

*Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW): This Soros-funded group sees itself as a left-wing version of Judicial Watch, the conservative legal group that filed a barrage of lawsuits against the Clinton administration in the 1990s. CREW executive director Melanie Sloan is a former U.S. Attorney and Democratic counsel for the House Judiciary Committee.

*Center for Progressive Leadership: This organization wants to mirror the conservative Leadership Institute. The center’s website

describes the group as “a national political training institute dedicated to developing the next generation of progressive political leaders. Through intensive training programs

for youth, activists, and future candidates, CPL provides individuals with the skills and resources needed to become effective political leaders.” CPL President Peter Murray acknowledged in July 2006 that donations from Alliance members boosted the group’s budget to $2.3 million, up from $1 million the year before.

*Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN): ACORN is a radical activist group active in housing programs and “living wage” campaigns in inner cities neighborhoods in more than 75 U.S. cities. In recent years it has been implicated in a number of fraudulent voter-registration schemes. The DA approved a grant to this group in 2006 but the amount is unknown.

*EMILY’s List: While the political action committee boasts that it is “the nation’s largest grassroots political network,” it is essentially a fundraising vehicle for pro-abortion rights female political candidates. EMILY, according to the group’s website, “is an acronym for ‘Early Money Is Like Yeast’ (it helps the dough rise).” The group’s president is veteran political fundraiser Ellen Malcolm. The DA approved a grant to this group in 2006 but the amount is unknown.

*America Votes: Another get-out-the-vote 527 organization, it is headed by Maggie Fox, a former deputy executive director of the Sierra Club. The group received a $6 million funding commitment from Soros.

*Air America: Described by the New York Observer as “a reliable destroyer of the fortunes of wealthy, well-meaning liberals,” the struggling left-wing talk radio network is said to have lost an astounding $41 million since 2004. After it reportedly received a funding commitment of at least $8 million from the Alliance, it filed for bankruptcy protection in October 2006 listing liabilities of more than $20 million and assets of just $4 million. DA member Rob Glaser has invested at least $10 in the network over the years. (The Politico, December 6, 2007) Air America was purchased by the family of Mark Green, a perennial New York office-seeker who founded the New Democracy Project, a left-wing policy institute.

*Sierra Club: The influential environmental organization—#7 on’s “Gang Green” list of the worst environmental activist groups—entered into a “strategic alliance” with the United Steelworkers union. (See Labor Watch, October 2006) Led by executive director Carl Pope, the Club successfully targeted property rights champion Representative Richard Pombo (R-California), who was defeated in 2006. The DA approved a grant to this group in 2006 but the amount is unknown.

*Center for Community Change: This longtime group dedicated to defending welfare entitlements and leftist anti-poverty programs was founded in 1968. Activist Deepak Bhargava is its executive director.

*USAction: This group works closely with organized labor. It is the successor to Citizen Action, the activist group discredited by its involvement in the money-laundering scandal to re-elect Teamsters president Ron Carey in the late 1990s.

*Catalist: Formerly called Data Warehouse, this group was created by Clinton aide Harold Ickes and Democratic operative Laura Quinn. Ickes is critical of the DNC under chairman Howard Dean and aims to create a sophisticated get-out-the-vote operation that rivals the Republican Party’s. Soros put $11 million at Ickes’s disposal because he distrusts Dean, the Washington Post reported. Albert J. Dwoskin, a DA board member and real estate developer in Fairfax, Virginia, is chairman of Catalist.

*Employment Policy Institute: The chairman of this liberal think tank is Gerald W. McEntee, who is also president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Other labor figures such as SEIU’s Stern are on the board. Julianne Malveaux, the black economist who condemned Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as a traitor to fellow African-American, is secretary-treasurer. Of Thomas, Malveaux once said: “I hope his wife feeds him lots of eggs and butter and he dies early like many black men do, of heart disease…He is an absolutely reprehensible person.”

*Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: This left-leaning think tank is headed by Robert Greenstein, who served in the Carter administration and received a MacArthur Fellowship (the so-called genius award) in the 1990s.

* A new startup headed by University of Connecticut law professor Richard Parker claims on its website to have received funding from three DA partners. Parker authored “a major study” for the DA “on investment gaps and needs in promoting a progressive national security and foreign policy,” the site says.

What Ideas? What It Takes to Revive the Democratic Party

Since the Clinton administration’s 1993 tax increase and the failed attempt to impose socialized medicine on the country helped Republicans takeover of Congress in 1994 following six decades of Democratic dominance that began with FDR in 1932, liberals have been consumed with their inability to win elections.

Forests were wiped off the map to produce the mountains of paper needed to print the staggering array of angry leftist books that followed George W. Bush’s election in 2000 and reelection in 2004. Bloggers Markos Moulitsas and Jerome Armstrong ( wrote Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics (2006). David Corn explained everything in The Lies of George W. Bush (2004), while Mark Crispin Miller offered a medical diagnosis in The Bush Dyslexicon: Observations on a National Disorder (2002). Easy-to-understand interpretations were made by Clint Willis in The I Hate George W. Bush Reader: Why Dubya Is Wrong About Absolutely Everything (2004) and Leland Gregory in Bush-Whacked: Chronicles of Government Stupidity (2005). Finally, there is Paul Levy’s The Madness of George W. Bush: A Reflection of Our Collective Psychosis (2006), which maintains Americans are literally crazy for electing Bush.

However, two tracts published in 2004 have attracted more serious attention from liberals worried about their loss of influence: What’s the Matter with Kansas: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America, by Thomas Frank, and Don’t Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate, by George Lakoff.

Frank’s book foreshadows the arrival of the Democracy Alliance. Conservative thinkers “imagine countless conspiracies in which the wealthy, powerful, and well connected – the liberal media, the atheistic scientists, the obnoxious eastern elite— pull the strings and make the puppets dance,” he writes.

Among Thomas Frank’s circle of acquaintances, it is natural to see Democrats as “the party of workers, of the poor, of the weak and the victimized.” Frank wrote his book because he was astonished to discover that most voters in the Great Plains were fundamentally pro-Bush, even though it was “a region of struggling ranchers and dying farm towns.” Frank’s book describes Americans as masses too ignorant or confused to recognize their own economic self-interest:

“People getting their fundamental interests wrong is what American political life is all about. This species of derangement…has put the Republicans in charge of all three branches of government; it has elected presidents, senators, governors; it shifts the Democrats to the right and then impeaches Bill Clinton just for fun.”

Frank also resents the stereotyping of liberals as shallow, materialistic, arrogant urban elitists. This “latte libel” is one of conservatives’ “dearest rhetorical maneuvers.” It holds that “liberals are identifiable by their tastes and consumer preferences and that these tastes and preferences reveal the essential arrogance and foreignness of liberalism.” Astonishingly, Frank even dismisses the idea that America has a liberal elite, calling the notion “not intellectually robust.” The idea “has been refuted countless times, and it falls apart under any sort of systematic scrutiny.”

Frank wants American workers to rediscover Big Government liberalism. And yet the rise of the Democracy Alliance gives the lie to Frank’s analysis. If George Soros understands that his self-interest lies with the creation of a progressive infrastructure of think tanks and media groups serving the Democratic Party, then perhaps the people of Kansas are right to suspect that there’s nothing the matter with Kansas. The problem is with political groups that depend on the billionaires in the Democracy Alliance.

George Lakoff’s thoughts on the language of politics have been compared to the ideas of GOP pollster Frank Luntz (author of Words that Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear) who counsels Republicans to speak of “personalizing” Social Security instead of “privatizing” it, and who prefers “exploring for energy” to “drilling for oil.”

Similarly, Lakoff argues that Americans view politics through the metaphorical “frame” of a family. GOP-friendly phrases such as “pro-life” and “tax relief” are associated with fathers willing to protect against external threats. By contrast, Democratic rhetoric evokes images of smothering mothers.

Lakoff, a linguistic theorist and former protégé of leftist icon Noam Chomsky, contends that if Democrats allow Republicans to frame the debate, they will lose. But he cautions: “One of the major mistakes liberals make is that they think they have all the ideas they need. They think that all they lack is media access. Or maybe some magic bullet phrases, like partial-birth abortion. When you think you just lack words, what you really lack are ideas.”

Lakoff believes the power of government should be harnessed to do good, citing the supposed accomplishments of the Progressive Era of Theodore Roosevelt, trust-busting, the establishment of labor standards, the New Deal, and civil rights. His work has garnered praise from the Democratic establishment, which finds consolation in its arguments that all the party needs to do is learn how to “frame the debate.”

Howard Dean, who wrote the book’s foreword, gushed about the book, predicting that Lakoff will be regarded as “one of the most influential political thinkers of the progressive movement when the history of this century is written.” Representative George Miller (D-California) bought copies of the book for all his fellow Democrats in the House, and Nancy Pelosi (D-California), now Speaker of the House, said Lakoff “has taken people here to a place, whether you agree or disagree with his particular frame, where they know there has to be a frame. They all agree without any question that you don’t speak on Republican terms.”

But the public’s low esteem for the Democratic majority in Congress suggests that liberal ideas are not good enough. While the Democracy Alliance invests heavily in infrastructure and marketing or “branding” new policies, it seems clear that its donors have yet to find ideas attractive to the American people.

Matthew Vadum is Editor of Foundation Watch. James Dellinger is Executive Director of GreenWatch at Capital Research Center.

Editor’s Note: This article has drawn heavily upon The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics, by Matt Bai (The Penguin Press, 2007), and the articles “Big $$ for Progressive Politics,” by Ari Berman (The Nation, October 16, 2006), and “A New Alliance Of Democrats Spreads Funding,” by Jim VandeHei and Chris Cillizza (Washington Post, July 17, 2006).

The Democracy Alliance has at least 101 donor-members, both individuals and organizations. However, it has not made available an official list of its “partners.” Here are some of the known DA members:

George Soros is founder of Quantum Asset Management and the grant-making Open Society Institute. He donated close to $24 million of his own money to 527 committees that made “independent expenditures” to defeat George W. Bush in 2004. His son Jonathan is also a member of the DA.

Peter B. Lewis is a billionaire insurance magnate — chairman of Progressive Casualty Insurance Co., the nation’s third-largest automobile insurer. He gave $23 million to 527 groups in 2004.

Herb and Marion Sandler are the co-founders of Golden West Financial Corp. They sold their S&L holding company to Wachovia in 2006 for $24 billion in cash and stock. In 2004 they gave $13 million to anti-Bush 527s.

The philanthropic interests of Silicon Valley venture capitalists Andy and Deborah Rappaport overlap significantly with those of the Alliance, but it is unclear if they are currently DA members. (The Nation’s Ari Berman reported in 2006 that the Rappaports were “disaffected with the Alliance.”) The Rappaports gave $25,000 to fund the first YearlyKos convention in 2004, a donation that matched the $25,000 to the cause. The Rappaports founded New Progressive Coalition LLC, (”Your political giving advisor”), which is technically a for-profit corporation that allows individuals to “invest” in Political “Mutual Funds.” According to the NPC: “Political giving can be easy and strategic…Simply choose an issue you care about and invest in a portfolio of powerful and unique organizations that are working effectively to solve our pressing political challenges.” This new kind of for-profit political funding entity sidesteps campaign finance laws allowing a donor’s identity to remain confidential. The Rappaports also gave $70,000 to ActBlue, a PAC that takes in donations and then distributes the money to Democratic candidates.

Tim Gill is the software entrepreneur who created Quark, the design and layout publishing program. Gill, who also dabbles in state and local politics, is president of the Gill Foundation in Denver, a funder of gay rights organizations. Gill’s political giving grew from $300,000 in 2000 to about $15 million in 2006, the Atlantic Monthly reported in March 2007. The Gill Action Fund, a 501(c)(4) issue advocacy organization created in September 2006, describes itself as “dedicated to securing equal opportunity for all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression.” Its executive director is Patrick Guerriero, former president of the gay GOP group, Log Cabin Republicans. Rodger MacFarlane, senior adviser to the Gill Foundation, is also a DA partner.

Rachel Pritzker Hunter of the Hyatt Hotel Pritzkers was a DA board member after the group was created.

Gara LaMarche became president and CEO of the Atlantic Philanthropies in April 2007. Previously, he was vice president and director of U.S. Programs for Soros’s Open Society Institute.

Guy Saperstein, is an Oakland, California trial lawyer. In 2007, he created the National Security/Foreign Policy New Ideas Fund (, with DA funding.

Rob Reiner, a Hollywood actor-director, is chairman of Parents Action for Children, a 501(c)(3) advocacy group. In 2005 he promoted Proposition 82, an unsuccessful California ballot initiative that would have raised state taxes to fund preschool for all four-year-olds. (See “The Teachers Unions Fight for Universal Pre-School,” by Ivan Osorio and James Dellinger, Labor Watch, June 2007.)

Herb Miller is a Washington, D.C., real estate developer and Democratic Party fundraiser.

David A. Friedman, a philanthropist and self-described centrist, is treasurer of the Friedman Family Foundation.

Ann S. Bowers is the widow of Intel co-founder Robert Noyce, inventor of the integrated circuit and “mayor of Silicon Valley.” Bowers is board chairman of Noyce Foundation.

Albert C. Yates is former president of Colorado State University.

Davidi Gilo is a high-tech entrepreneur and founder of Vyyo Inc. who made the Mother Jones 400 list of big leftist donors. His wife, Shamaya, created the Winds of Change Foundation in 1998, and is a heavy donor to Democratic candidates.

Mark Buell is a businessman. His wife, Susie Tompkins Buell, co-founded the clothier Esprit with her ex-husband, Douglas Tompkins, who is president of the Foundation for Deep Ecology.

Fred Baron, one of America’s wealthiest plaintiffs’ attorneys, was finance chairman for Senator John Edwards’s 2004 presidential campaign.

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is an institutional member of the DA. SEIU President Andrew Stern and’s Eli Pariser have created a political action committee called “They Work for Us,” to take on Democratic candidates deemed insufficiently left-wing on economic issues. The labor coalition SEIU broke away from, the AFL-CIO, is also an Alliance member.

Alan Patricof is co-founder of private equity firm Apax Partners. From 1993 to 1995, he was chairman of the White House Conference on Small Business.

Bren Simon is president of MBS Associates LLC, a property management and development firm. Her husband, Melvin, ranks on the Forbes list of the world’s richest people. He is a part owner of the Indiana Pacers and runs the Simon Property Group, developer of shopping malls. (It is not known if Mr. Simon is active in the DA.)

Software entrepreneur Chris Gabrieli, who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for Massachusetts governor in 2006, co-founded and heads Massachusetts 2020 Foundation.

Anne Bartley, the daughter of Winthrop Rockefeller, is vice chairman of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and a trustee of the Jennifer Altman Foundation.

Simon Rosenberg, the founder and president of the New Democrat Network (NDN), ran unsuccessfully in 2005 for the DNC chairmanship.

Lewis B. Cullman is a financier and philanthropist whose website says he and his wife, Dorothy, have given away $223 million to date.

Rob Johnson, a DA board member, is a partner at Impact Artist Management and former portfolio manager for Soros’s Quantum Fund.

Michael Kieschnick is founder of Working Assets. Every time a customer uses one of the Working Assets donation-linked services (long distance, wireless and credit card), the company donates a portion of the charges to “nonprofit groups working to build a world that is more just, humane, and environmentally sustainable,” according to the company’s website, which claims that over $50 million has been raised for progressive causes.

Steven M. Gluckstern, a former chairman of the Alliance, is a founding managing director of Azimuth Alternative Assets, an investment banking firm.

Inventor William Budinger, who founded and ran Rodel, Inc.,is a DA board member.

DA board member Robert H. Dugger is a managing director of Tudor Investment Corporation, an asset management company. Previously he was chief economist at the American Bankers Association.

Manhattan psychologist Gail Furman, a DA board member, is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She serves on the boards of Human Rights First and The Brennan Center for Social Justice at NYU Law School.

San Francisco attorney and political organizer Steven Phillips is president and founder of, which focuses on California politics. He is a DA board member.

Charles Rodgers, a DA board member, is president of the New Community Fund, a family foundation in Massachusetts.

DA board member Deborah Sagner is a social worker and president of the Sagner Family Foundation.

Michael Vachon, a DA board member, is Soros’s spokesman and political director.

Patricia Stryker is granddaughter of Homer Stryker, who founded Stryker Corporation, a medical technology company.

Rutt Bridges is founder of Advance Geophysical. He ran for governor of Colorado in 2005 but dropped out of the race.

—MV and JD

The Party of the Rich?

The idea that Democrats are the party of the downtrodden is demonstrably false. “The demographic reality is that the Democratic Party is the new ‘party of the rich,’” according to Michael Franc of the Heritage Foundation. Franc crunched Internal Revenue Service income data and found that most of America’s most affluent congressional districts are represented by Democrats. Democrats represent about 58% of the wealthiest one-third of the 435 congressional districts, and more than half of the wealthiest households were concentrated in the 18 states in which Democrats hold both Senate seats. Franc also found that despite Democrats’ rhetorical labeling of the GOP as the party of the rich, “the vast majority of unabashed conservative House members hail from profoundly middle-class districts.” (Washington Times, November 23, 2007)

Although Republicans used to regularly out-fundraise Democrats, America’s resurgent left is changing the political giving environment. Political contribution figures provided by the Center for Responsive Politics suggest that high-dollar donors increasingly prefer donkeys over elephants. Of donors giving $95,000 or more to candidates, parties, or Leadership PACs in the current election cycle, 69% of the money went to Democrats, compared to the paltry 7% that went to Republicans ($1.6 million to Democrats versus $200,000 to Republicans and $600,000 to PACs). In the $10,000-plus category, 69% went to Democrats while 34% went to Republicans ($97.9 million to Democrats, $54.2 million to Republicans, $13.2 million to PACs). Democrats have an edge in the lower-dollar categories as well. In the $2,300-plus category, 55% went to Democrats while 37% went to Republicans ($267.4 million to Democrats, $180.0 million to Republicans, $49.9 million to PACs). In the $200 to $2,299 category, 43% went to Democrats and 39% went to Republicans ($102.4 million to Democrats, $92.3 million to Republicans, $43.8 million to PACs) (FEC data as of September 24, 2007,

High-dollar donations from individuals in the 2006 election cycle followed the same pattern, according to data provided by the Center. In the $95,000-plus category, Democrats got 56% of the money compared to 38% by Republicans ($28.3 million to Democrats, $19.3 million to Republicans, $5.6 million to PACs) and in the $10,000-plus category, Democrats edged out Republicans 45% to 44% ($251.5 million to Democrats, $246.1 million to Republicans, $96.7 million to PACs).


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