A look at its “advisors” speaks volumes. This group’s origins came from labor, so it’s no accident that sprinkled in there are union leaders Morton Bahr of the Communication Workers of America, George Becker of the United Steelworkers of America, Moe Biller of the American Postal Workers Union, Thomas Buffenbarger of the Machinists Union,
Bob Chase of the National Education Association, Douglas H. Dority of the United Food and Commercial Workers, Edward Fire of the International Union of Electronic Workers, Gerald W. McEntee of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Dennis Rivera of the Health and Human Service Employees, Cecil Roberts of the United Mine Workers of America, Andrew Stern of the Service Employees International Union, John J. Sweeney of the AFL-CIO, and Stephen P. Yokich of the United Auto Workers (with a couple of AFL-CIO subalterns thrown in as well).
Why is big labor so bitterly opposed to reform that would put more power in the hands of individuals? Precisely; with an inflexible, government controlled pension insurance system that Social Security is, it makes the pension systems of unions seem downright attractive. Giving individuals more control over their coerced payments into Social Security creates the unsavory idea that individuals, not fatcats like labor unions, should control their own financial futures, and may lead to a withdrawal of private funds out of union pension funds. McEntee’s has more interest than others; as the leading union trying to organize public sector employees, a Social Security system that empowers people rather than government will make some government bureaucrats less powerful if not outright redundant.
Also telling are the number of radical writers, analysts, and academics (some being both) on the list. Just to point out a few: economic know-nothings Mitchell Cohen (Dissent co-editor), Barbara Ehrenreich (author of the simplistic propaganda Nickled and Dimed), Robert Kuttner (The American Prospect editor), Frank Riessman (founding editor of Social Policy), and Michael Walzer (Dissent co-editor). Walzer joins more than a dozen radical academics on the roster, but he is probably best known along with Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward, who co-write a college textbook on American government which casts aspersions on its democratic nature and argue that wealthy interests control America. Todd Gitlin deserves special mention here not only for his academic position but also as an anti-American student leader of the 1960s (although he has softened his foreign affairs leftism since) as president of the Students for Democratic Society and joined by one of its founders and still a California state Sen. Tom Hayden.
All of these individuals, in terms of economic policy, advocate the familiar leftist mantra of denying individuals control over their own lives, giving that power to institutions like government that are allied with or controlled by them, so that they may increase their own power and privilege at the expense of the common person. Obviously, a Social Security regime that empowers the individual will not be to their liking.
With this cast of characters, and other lesser-known ones like them, already the credibility of the organization must be questioned. This credibility becomes further strained when understanding the issue preferences of the group as reflected in statements by its leaders and flacks. For the past several years the group has held the appropriately-misnamed “Take Back America” conference and rolled out a special edition of it during the Democratic National Convention last year. The wackos who speak at these and what they say are illustrative.
This isn’t even including the granddaddy of the nutjobs, Michael Moore, who graced the group with an appearance during its special session.
Of course, we can count on the leaders of the group to show how delusional they are about reality in America. Co-Director Robert Borosage during the 2001 event accused President Bush of being a latter-day William McKinley and attempting to create an alliance of the robber barons against the people with his policy of “tax cuts for the wealthy,” “arsenic in the water,” and “salmonella in the food.” And here’s his wisdom on the 2004 election:
In the most negative and dishonest campaign by an incumbent president in memory, President Bush wrapped himself in the flag, stroked the fears and passions of the evangelical right, and divided the country with gay baiting. His lies about Kerry’s positions, distortions of his record and libels of his character were shameless but brutally effective. Bush succeeded in raising sufficient doubts about Kerry to distract voters from the incumbent’s failures in office.
Never mind that this is at total odds with reality. Borosage’s background also sheds light on the typically elitist, moneyed origins of such groups which they claim are the interests backing Social Security reformers like McCrery. He’s the group’s founder but previously was a director of the radical Institute for Policy Studies. The IPS is the beneficiary of funding by the heirs to the Faberge cosmetics fortune. One of the heirs, Cora Weiss, consorted with the North Vietnamese and assisted their admission to the UN.
His present employer also benefits from special-interest funding. Their criticism of McCrey was that he received roughly $200,000 in campaign donations from financial institutions which they say (erroneously, given the small rates of return they will be allowed by the government to have) will profit enormously from Social Security reform. But what about the fact that the group received $300,000 alone from George Soros? It’s hypocritical to say McCrery is being influenced while they get even more money from somebody with a well-known, fundamentally-flawed, political agenda. And this group has boasted it was going to spend $75 million to influence the political process in the last election cycle (McCrery only got a little over $1 million).
Liberals like the Campaign for America’s Future know very well the problems with Social Security and the validity of the Bush Administration’s response to them. If we understand their basic ideology, that the common person is unable to run his own affairs without their “enlightened” assistance (for which, of course, they extract a price of increased power over and privilege compared to the people), we can understand why they are so opposed to progressive thinkers like McCrery on this issue. (And they also don’t seem to be too smart politically – this ad campaign is not going to do anything to endanger McCrery’s reelection chances given his popularity in the district in the hopes of making him change his mind.)
Consider first principles regarding today's ideologies: conservativism wishes to empower people, liberalism wishes to enslave them. Social Security is a huge issue to the left because it would transfer so much power from government, which they believe should take people’s resources and run their lives, to the people. That’s why they have attacked McCrery so desperately, and have shown again why the American people continue at the ballot box to reject their agenda.