Center for American Progress (CAP)

July 22, 2011

Think tank headed by former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta
Helped launch Media Matters For America in 2004

The Center for American Progress (CAP) describes itself as “a nonpartisan research and educational institute” aimed at “developing a long-term vision of a progressive America” and “providing a forum to generate new progressive ideas and policy proposals.”

Robert Dreyfuss reports in the March 1, 2004 edition of The Nation: “The idea for the Center began with discussions in 2002 between [Morton] Halperin and George Soros, the billionaire investor. … Halperin, who heads the office of Soros’ Open Society Institute, brought [former Clinton chief of staff John] Podesta into the discussion, and beginning in late 2002 Halperin and Podesta circulated a series of papers to funders.”

Soros and Halperin recruited Harold Ickes — chief fundraiser and former deputy chief of staff for the Clinton White House — to help organize the Center. It was launched on July 7, 2003 as the American Majority Institute. The name was changed to Center for American Progress (CAP) on September 1, 2003. The official purpose of the Center was to provide the left with something it supposedly lacked — a think tank of its own.

Regarding the new think tank proposed by Soros and Halperin, Hillary Clinton told Matt Bai of The New York Times Magazine on October 12, 2003, “We need some new intellectual capital. There has to be some thought given as to how we build the 21st-century policies that reflect the Democrat Party’s values.” She later told The Nation’s Robert Dreyfuss, “We’ve had the challenge of filling a void on our side of the ledger for a long time, while the other side created an infrastructure that has come to dominate political discourse. The Center is a welcome effort to fill that void.”

Persistent press leaks confirm that Hillary Clinton, and not Podesta, is ultimately in charge of CAP. “It’s the official Hillary Clinton think tank,” an inside source confided to Christian Bourge of United Press International. Robert Dreyfuss notes in The Nation, “In looking at Podesta’s center, there’s no escaping the imprint of the Clintons. It’s not completely wrong to see it as a shadow government, a kind of Clinton White-House-in-exile — or a White House staff in readiness for President Hillary Clinton.” Dreyfuss notes the abundance of Clintonites on the Center’s staff, among them Clinton’s national security speechwriter Robert Boorstin; Democratic Leadership Council staffer and former head of Clinton’s National Economic Council Gene Sperling; former senior advisor to Clinton’s Office of Management and Budget Matt Miller; and others. In 2007, Mrs. Clinton told the YearlyKos convention of leftwing bloggers that she “helped to start and support” CAP.

In addition to the aforementioned individuals, CAP’s key personnel also includes Director of Media Strategy Debbie Berger, daughter of Clinton national security chief Sandy Berger; Sarah Rosen Wartell, who serves as Senior Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, and General Counsel; Mark David Agrast, Senior Vice President for Domestic Policy; and Robert O. Boorstin, Senior Vice President for National Security and International Policy.

One of CAP’s primary missions is to carry out “rapid response” to what it calls conservative “attacks” in the media. To this end, CAP maintains more than a dozen spokespeople ready to appear on short notice on national talk shows to debate or respond to conservative commentators. Among CAP’s expert commentators are its own President, John Podesta; Eric Alterman, who claims expertise on the subject of media; and CAP Senior Vice President Morton Halperin, who offers to speak on national security.

On May 3, 2004, CAP helped to launch David Brock’s Media Matters for America – which claims to serve as a “watchdog” organization monitoring “rightwing” media for ethics and accuracy. According to The New York Times, Brock conferred with Hillary Clinton, Senator Tom Daschle, and former Vice President Al Gore about Media Matters before embarking on the project. “Mr. Brock’s project was developed with help from the newly formed Center for American Progress,” notes the Times, and John Podesta “introduced [Brock] to potential donors.”

CAP posts daily “Talking Points” to guide the likeminded in their disputes with conservatives. The organization has also established an American Progress Action Fund as a “sister advocacy organization” that “transforms progressive ideas into policy through rapid response communications, legislative action, grassroots organizing and advocacy, and partnerships with other progressive leaders throughout the country and the world.”

The March 2004 Foundation Watch newsletter of the Capital Research Center reports that CAP raised $13 million in 2003. Part of that money came from George Soros, who had pledged $3 million, to be paid in $1 million increments over three years. Part came from Herbert and Marion Sandler, co-CEOs of the Oakland, California savings and loan holding company Golden West Financial Corporation (S&L).

Other donors to CAP include the Rockefeller Family Fund; the Irving Harris Foundation, the Philip Murphy Foundation, the New York Community Trust, the Overbrook Foundation, the Peninsula Foundation, the Robert E. Rubin Foundation, the San Francisco Foundation, the Bauman Family Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the Open Society Institute, and the Robert and Irene Schwartz Foundation.

After Barack Obama was elected President in 2008, CAP served as perhaps the most influential organization advising the new administration. Among Obama’s leading advisers were John Podesta and at least ten additional CAP experts. CAP formulates policy for the administration and supplies the White House with a steady stream of talking points designed to make that policy palatable to the public. Indeed, as of December 2008, before then-President-elect Obama had even taken his oath of office, he had already pledged his intent to fulfill some of CAP’s chief policy recommendations. These included the Center’s call for a gradual withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq coupled with a buildup of forces in Afghanistan, a plan to implement universal health-care coverage, and a plan to create “green jobs” designed to combat “global warming.” According to Bloomberg.com, CAP “has become … an intellectual wellspring for Democratic policy proposals, including many that are shaping the agenda of the … Obama administration.”

Emblematic of this was the synergy that Obama and CAP displayed in dealing with the disastrous BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in the spring of 2010. In May and June of that year, when the crisis was at its height, Obama followed the Center’s recommendations on such matters as creating an independent commission to examine the causes of the crisis;naming someone to be the public point person for the oil-spill response; and demanding that BP immediately set up a multi-billion-dollar escrow account to pay damage claims to Gulf-state residents harmed by the spill.

On virtually every policy matter—health-care reform, fiscal policy, civil rights, immigration, housing, labor, national security, foreign policy, media, energy, or the environment—CAP’s recommendations fit hand-in-glove with the Obama administration’s values and agendas. In many cases, as in the examples cited above, the administration actually follows CAP’s instructions.

An April 2009 CAP report stated that the United States had a moral obligation to spend massive amounts of money to help poorer nations deal with the effects of the “global warming” that allegedly was being caused by industrialized nations like the U.S.

Source: http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/groupProfile.asp?grpid=6709 (22 July, 2011)

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