March 16, 2012
Working to “revitalize a progressive agenda” and to “expose the conservative agenda that has made things worse,” Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization that supports tax hikes, socialized medicine, and a dramatic expansion of social welfare programs. UndueInfluence.com describes CAF as a “labor-dominated lobbying and electoral network heavily influenced by progressive plutocrats and secret donors working on anti-corporate, anti-military, welfare-state, and other ‘progressive’ programs.”
CAF was co-founded in 1996 chiefly by: (a) Robert Borosage, who previously served as Director of the Institute for Policy Studies and founded the Progressive Majority political action committee; and (b) Roger Hickey, who co-founded the Economic Policy Institute and was the Media Director for the National Center for Economic Alternatives. (Borosage and Hickey also co-founded CAF’s sister organization, Institute for America’s Future or IAF, in 1999.) All told, some 130 people played a role in founding CAF. Among the other notables were Mary Frances Berry, Julian Bond, Heather Booth, Robert Borosage, John Cavanagh, Richard Cloward, Peter Dreier, Barbara Ehrenreich, Betty Friedan, Todd Gitlin, Tom Hayden, Denis Hayes, Roger Hickey, Patricia Ireland, Jesse Jackson, Joseph Lowery, Frances Fox Piven, Robert Reich, Mark Ritchie, Arlie Schardt, Susan Shaer, Andrew Stern, John Sweeney, and Richard Trumka.
CAF (in conjunction with IAF) focuses its efforts on the following major issues and projects:
(a) Healthcare for All: “47 million Americans remain uninsured and millions of families are plunged into bankruptcy when serious illness strikes. Everyone in America deserves high quality, affordable health insurance. That’s why [CAF] is launching a national effort to discuss and debate progressive solutions to the [challenge] of covering all Americans.”
(b) Revitalizing Education: While criticizing the Bush Administration’s “No Child Left Behind Act” of 2001, CAF supports an across-the-board increase in federal funding for public education. Specifically, the organization calls for “universal pre-school care [including] health and nutritional programs in addition to traditional academic development activities”; “the expansion of Head Start to all qualified applicants”; “immediate increases in federal school construction and maintenance funds”; “a student-teacher ratio of 15 to 1”; higher pay for new teachers and for “skilled/experienced teachers … working in disadvantaged areas”; “universal access to after-school programs [which] will require increased investment at the local, state and national level”; and more “grants and subsidized loans” for higher education.
(c) Protecting Social Security: CAF seeks to “educate the public about Social Security and the pitfalls of privatization.”
(d) Accountable Congress: In 2005, CAF purchased television airtime to broadcast commercials demanding the removal of then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay for ethics violations. The ads solicited donations of up to $2,500. Says CAF: “Tom DeLay is finally gone, and we’re not stopping there. We’re turning our guns on DeLay’s successors—with the same unapologetic and sustained campaigns to expose their corruption and make them accountable to their constituents.”
(e) Straight Talk: CAF produces both online and print media “designed to serve up ammunition to progressives who have the opportunity to challenge the grip that the right has had on our imaginations and our policies over the past quarter century.”
(f) Energy Independence: CAF helped create the Apollo Alliance, a coalition of labor, environmental, and social justice groups professing a commitment to the development of “good jobs and energy independence.” United by their belief that America is a chief source of worldwide “environmental disruption, rising social inequity, and … fundamentalist anger,” Apollo Alliance’s endorsing organizations and partners include Greenpeace, the League of Conservation Voters, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Wildlife Federation, the Rainforest Action Network, the Sierra Club, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and ACORN. Apollo Alliance’s National Steering Committee and National Advisory Board members include, among others, Robert Borosage, Carl Pope of the Sierra Club, Julian Bond of the NAACP, Gerry Hudson of the Service Employees International Union, and U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. Apollo Alliance has also received strong support from the socialist Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, and from New York Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton.
(g) Each year, CAF holds a “Take Back America” conference, which the organization describes as “a catalyst for building the infrastructure to ensure that the voice of the progressive majority is heard.” In 2005, prominent speakers at this conference included Howard Dean, Antonio Villaraigosa, John Edwards, Jesse Jackson, Arianna Huffington, and Bill Moyers. CAF credits “Take Back America 2006” with helping to secure progressive wins in that year’s midterm congressional elections. Participants in the 2006 event included John Kerry, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Russ Feingold, Bernie Sanders, Barbara Ehrenreich, Jan Schakowsky, Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. Topping the agenda for CAF’s “Take Back America 2007” event were the issues of “affordable education and health care for all”; “the right to join a union”; and “pushing for a vote to get U.S. troops out of the middle of the civil war in Iraq.”
In the 2004 presidential election, CAF partnered with both the Democratic Party and a number of far-left special interest groups in a campaign to oppose tax cuts. The Democratic National Committee stated, “The Democratic Party is partnering with MoveOn.org, People for the American Way, Campaign for America’s Future, and dozens of other groups representing millions of Americans to organize a massive public mobilization … [J]oin us by calling and emailing your representatives in Congress to let them know that the majority of Americans oppose more irresponsible tax cuts …”
CAF also endorsed “Invest in America,” an anti-tax-cut statement supported by: ACORN; Alliance For Justice; the American Friends Service Committee; the Center for Community Change; the Center For Women’s Policy Studies; the Children’s Defense Fund; the Democratic Socialists of America; the Environmental Working Group; the League of United Latin American Citizens; the League of Women Voters; the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund; the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy; the National Council of La Raza; the National Lawyers Guild; the National Organization for Women; the National Women’s Law Center; the Older Women’s League; Peace Action; Physicians for Social Responsibility; Planned Parenthood; Public Citizen; the Service Employees International Union; the United States Student Association; Veterans For Peace; and Women’s Action for New Directions.
A notable Senior Fellow for CAF is Rick Perlstein, a political commentator for the Village Voice.
CAF has received funding from George Soros, the Agnes Gund Foundation, the Arca Foundation, and the Rockefeller Family Fund.
In March 2008, CAF presented its Lifetime Leadership Award to Norman Lear, recognizing him “for his work as both a groundbreaking television producer and an outspoken progressive activist and benefactor”; for “fighting the rising influence of the religious right in American politics”; and for founding People for the American Way, “an organization that has been a staunch critic of the right and a fierce defender of the principle that progressive Americans must have their faith and their patriotism acknowledged and respected.” CAF also honored Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky “for her advocacy in Congress.”
At its March 2008 “Take Back America” conference in Washington, DC, CAF joined six fellow leftist organizations in announcing plans for “the most expensive [$350 million] mobilization in history this election season” — an initiative that focused on voter registration, education, and get-out-the-vote drives. The other members of CAF’s coalition included MoveOn.org, Rock the Vote, ACORN, the National Council of La Raza, the Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund, and the AFL-CIO.
In June 2010, CAF held an “America’s Future Now” conference in Washington, DC, which featured such guest speakers as Andrew Stern, Arianna Huffington, Van Jones, and Nancy Pelosi. Sponsors and partners for the event included the National Education Association Foundation and the AFL-CIO.
CAF’s board of directors includes MoveOn.org president Eli Pariser and NAACP Washington bureau director Hilary Shelton.