A rising chorus of discontent – more a citizens uprising – shows Middle America’s deep suspicion of President Obama’s health care reform proposal. Average citizens have voiced their disapproval at townhall meetings hosted by Sen. Arlen Specter and HHS Director Kathleen Sebelius, Rep. Lloyd Doggett, Rep. Tim Bishop, and staffers of Sen. Claire McCaskill. In a burst of passion-envy, Chris Matthews asked on Monday night’s Hardball, “Where the Hell are the people who want health care, the poor people out there…the union people? Where are they? I haven’t seen one placard, let alone one protest demonstration, for health care.”
In fact, tens of thousands of people have rallied in the nation’s capital supporting the president’s health care reform plan, including the controversial public option. However, national momentum is not with them, because they are, to use Nancy Pelosi’s phrase, “Astroturf.” These demonstrations were organized by Health Care for America Now! (HCAN), a new “national grassroots campaign of more than 1,000 organizations in 46 states representing 30 million people dedicated to winning quality, affordable health care.” Most of its component organizations have two things in common: they have no experience or expertise in health care, and virtually all received large, tax-exempt grants from far-Left billionaires like George Soros and Teresa Heinz Kerry. Like the “grassroots” movement for campaign finance reform a decade ago, the public demonstrations for health care reform are largely a Soros-financed operation.
Former Governor Howard Dean announced HCAN’s mission on the first night of the annual “America’s Future Now!” conference (formerly the “Take Back America” conference), hosted by the Campaign for America’s Future in June. Dean pledged to spend up to $82 million to advance socialized medicine. HCAN rallied 15,000 people in D.C. in April, 10,000 more in June, and with state affiliates like the Maine People’s Alliance, hundreds more in state capitals in July. A searchable database of upcoming spontaneous demonstrations can be found here.
However, a closer look at its members shows it is less a “grassroots” organization than a series of interconnected left-wing pressure groups united by a collectivist ideology and, for most, a common donor.
Among the 21 members of its steering committee are ACORN, MoveOn.org, and the Center for American Progress. CAP, headed by former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta, was created with Soros’ money as a counterweight to the Heritage Foundation. In 2007 alone, Soros’ charity, the Open Society Institute (OSI), gave CAP $1.75 million and approved additional grants totaling $1.25 million. Soros personally gave millions to MoveOn.org before the 2004 elections, and he has funded ACORN, the most notorious practitioner of election fraud in the nation.
Dean announced HCAN’s mobilization before the Campaign for America’s Future, another institution that has received funding from George Soros and the Rockefeller Family Fund. CAF, an HCAN steering committee member, pushes for national health care as one means to transform the United States into a European social welfare state. Co-founder Robert Borosage previously served as director of the overtly Marxist Institute for Policy Studies, while co-founder Roger Hickey also co-founded the Economic Policy Institute. Other CAF co-founders include socialist columnist Harold Meyerson, Sixties radical Tom Hayden, socialist feminist Barbara Ehrenreich, Service Employees International Union president Andrew Stern, AFL-CIO president John J. Sweeney, Jesse Jackson, and Julian Bond. CAF is best known for hosting its annual “Take Back America” conferences, a gathering of D.C. “progressives” and far-Left community organizers. Code Pink activists famously booed Hillary Clinton after a tour-de-force leftist speech in 2006. An up-and-comer named Barack Obama also spoke at the ’06 event.
Advancing the welfare state by ruse is old hat to the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF). The CDF Action Council is a member of the HCAN steering committee. CDF founder Marian Wright Edelman once admitted she got nowhere pushing a left-wing message until “I got the idea that children might be a very effective way to broaden the base for change.” Hiding behind “the children,” her undisguised Sixties radicalism still shines through. In her 1987 book Families in Peril, she wrote, “We must curb the fanatical military weasel.” At the time, the CDF was chaired by one Hillary Rodham Clinton. In addition to Hillary’s patronage, the CDF received a grant of more than $700,000 from the Carnegie Corporation of New York while Teresa Heinz Kerry sat on its board of trustees, and Edelman received the Heinz Award for the “Human Condition” in 1995.
Labor unions are heavily represented on the HCAN steering committee. Members include the SEIU, AFL-CIO, AFSCME, Change to Win (James Hoffa’s breakaway group of seven powerful unions, which includes the SEIU’s Andrew Stern), UAW, the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, Communication Workers of America, and the United Food and Commercial Workers union. Even with the power of compulsory union dues, SEIU received $75,000 from the Open Society Institute in 2007, and AFT was approved for a $150,000 OSI grant.
Other members, such as USAction, are more overtly radical. Its profile on DiscoverTheNetworks.org notes, “The President of USAction is longtime radical activist William McNary, who has written for and supported the official newspaper of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), the People’s Weekly World.” McNary spoke at the June 25th HCAN rally. USAction receives also funding from Soros’ Open Society Institute.
The radicalism and overlapping nature of the “coalition” is perhaps best illustrated by the Center for Community Change (CCC), an organization founded in 1968 to advance Saul Alinsky-style confrontational politics. The CCC board includes a founder of Students for a Democratic Society; former Congressman and current mayor of Oakland, California, Ron Dellums, an admirer of Fidel Castro; Marian Wright Edelman’s husband, Peter Edelman; La Raza Vice President Cecelia Munoz; and Heather Booth, who founded the Midwest Academy, where the SEIU’s Andrew Stern learned about union organizing. The CCC is financed in part by George Soros’ Open Society Institute, with OSI awarding the group $2.9 million in grants in 2007 alone. Other funding sources include the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Fannie Mae Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Other members of the HCAN “grassroots” include:
- Democracy for America, the organization Howard Dean founded to drive the Democratic Party to the Left following his 2004 primary loss to John Kerry. Dean was heavily favored by MoveOn.org;
- Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR). In 2007 alone, OSI approved 11 grants to LCCR totaling nearly $1.8 million;
- Progressive States Network was awarded $800,000 in OSI grants in 2007;
- The Gamaliel Foundation pocketed $150,000 from OSI in 2007;
- National Congress of American Indians, received $125,000 from OSI in 2007;
- True Majority, a far-Left organization founded by Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream fame;
- USPIRG, the group of former “Nader’s Raiders” funded by OSI, Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, and the Carnegie Corporation of New York under Teresa Heinz’s board tenure. Its new study asserts health care reform “could allow the creation of 2.5 million jobs over a five year period.”
Aside from socialist radicals, HCAN’s membership includes two odd constituencies: clergy and abortionists.
Soros-funded clergy have been in the forefront of the universal health care mobilization, often in consultation with Senate Democrats. Mark D. Tooley reported a group of religious leftists met with Senator Ted Kennedy’s chief advisor on health care reform in April, which culminated in the June 24 “Interfaith Service of Witness and Prayer for Health Care Reform.” Among the event’s organizers is Jim Wallis’ Sojourners, which George Soros gave $100,000 in 2007. Concurrently, People Improving Communities Through Organizing (PICO) (which is funded by Citigroup Foundation and William Randolph Hearst Foundation among others) is rallying the Religious Left for ObamaCare alongside Sojourners and the National Council of Churches (NCC). The NCC, seeing mainline church membership dwindle over the last 40 years, is increasingly funded by an array of leftist “charities,” including the Open Society Institute, ACORN, MoveOn.org, TrueMajority, People For the American Way, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Tides Foundation, and the Ford Foundation. Soros is nothing if not ecumenical; his Open Society Institute blessed Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, an HCAN member, with a $300,000 in 2007. The Catholics are joined by a Protestant counterpart, Clergy Strategic Allegiances, LLC, and the National Council of Jewish Women.
These religious figures march alongside HCAN’s abortion advocates. Chief among these are the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the National Abortion Federation, Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health, and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Planned Parenthood already gets one-third of its billion dollar annual budget from the government, and the Capps Amendment in the current health care bill opens the spigots of federal funding for abortion through fungible payments and accounting transfers. The Alan Guttmacher Institute concluded public funding of abortion increases the number of abortions – and thus, pads Planned Parenthood’s bottom line.
Soros-funded feminists are a constituency in the new “grassroots” coalition. The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) pushes for enhanced welfare state funding and abortion on demand. DiscoverTheNetworks.org notes that NWLC’s “major benefactors” include AFSCME, the NEA; the Fannie Mae Foundation; the Ford Foundation; the Rockefeller Family Fund; and the Open Society Institute, which approved $400,000 in grants for NWLC in 2007. HCAN also includes the more overtly political Women’s Voices, Women’s Vote. WVWV was awarded $400,000 in grants from OSI in 2007 and has long been supported by Teresa Heinz Kerry, who steered a $50,000 grant through the Teresa & John H. Heinz III Fund of Heinz Family Foundation. The WVWV website insists its constituents, which consist almost entirely of unmarried women, “take a more progressive viewpoint than their male counterparts and see a larger role for government in helping to solve the challenges they face.” Similarly, Nine to Five, National Association of Working Women is funded by the Ben and Jerry’s Foundation and the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations.
Minority groups also have a seat at this table. The NAACP and the National Council of La Raza (a group that supports giving drivers licenses, voting rights, and in-state tuition to illegal immigrants) are HCAN members. OSI also doled out more than half-a-million dollars to La Raza in 2007. Illegal aliens make up one of the largest blocks of uninsured, nearly one-sixth of all uninsured by some estimates – and no reform legislation can change their status.
Some endorsers are less obviously connected to the issue of health care but still choose to take to the streets. Brave New Films, a “progressive” movie organization run by Robert Greenwald, is in the vanguard of leftist groups. BNF’s current productions include MoveOn: The Movie and Rethinking Afghanistan, which assures Americans that Afghanistan “is not a military problem and cannot be resolved by military means.” The International Federation of Black Prides, Inc., a black homosexual organization, is an HCAN member. The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance seems particularly at odds with the president’s focus on “preventative” medicine.
Any organizations that show promise, however, can expect George Soros to use his money to do what the Left does best: create a permanent infrastructure for radical activism. ACORN, CAP, and MoveOn.org are living testaments to this proclivity. It appears Soros has found another promising start-up:the Roosevelt Institution, which names the Open Society Institute as a benefactor. Part of Soros’s grant, $47, 100 according to documents filed in 2007, facilitated “the transition from a student organization to a professional and sustain [sic.] corp.” This institutionalization of radicalism is perhaps best embodied by League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), which Ford Foundation grants transformed from a local, moderate advocacy organization for Hispanics to a full-throated supporter of balkanization. George Soros turned MoveOn.org from a moribund website dedicated to averting the Clinton impeachment into the driving force of the 2004 Democratic elections. MoveOn, in turn, elevated little-known Vermont Governor Howard Dean to frontrunner status. Dean consolidated his campaign by forming Democracy for America and ultimately chairing the Democratic National Committee. And he is now leading the charge for socialized medicine with a band of fellow Soros-funded leftists.
Despite its financial heft, HCAN has tried to amplify its numbers by double-counting many of its organizations. For instance, the historically left-wing Americans for Democratic Action sits on its board alongside Working Families Win, “a project of Americans for Democratic Action and the ADA Education Fund.” So, too, does USAction with True Majority, “a project of USAction.” HCAN’s membership list includes both the AFL-CIO and Working America, which describes itself as a “community affiliate of the AFL-CIO.” CAP and its campus affiliate, Campus Progress Action, are listed separately. Other organizations’ membership is largely interchangeable, e.g., MoveOn and Democracy for America. One can see how double- or triple-counting its overlapping memberships can quickly add up to “more than 30 million people.”
It is right, though, that the whole organization be considered one entity, given the constituent members’ long-standing history of coordinating their actions. In 2004, the Democratic Party admitted it was working with CAF, MoveOn.org, People for the American Way, and “dozens” of other groups “to organize a massive public mobilization” against the ’04 Bush tax cuts. (One left-wing poster on Democratic Underground asked if the 527 arrangement was “Our Dirty Little Secret?”) The Campaign for America’s Future partnered with MoveOn.org, Rock the Vote, ACORN, La Raza, the Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund, and the AFL-CIO in a voter drive effort in 2008 to help elect Barack Obama. Just this April, SEIU, MoveOn.org, the CCC, True Majority, USAction, WVWV, Brave New Films, and the Working Families Party conducted a mass protest against the Bank of America.
If these coalition members are largely interchangeable, they overlap with the Obama White House and the Democratic Party with increasing frequency, as well. The HCAN Steering Committee includes Americans United for Change. DTN notes, “In 2009, AUFC President Brad Woodhouse became the communications director for the Democratic National Committee under President Obama.” This summer, Obama nominated SEIU general counsel Craig Becker for a seat on the five-member National Labor Relations Board, the highest court of appeals in labor disputes. Becker’s appointment is but one measure of Andy Stern’s tremendous influence with Obama. Another HCAN member, Clergy Strategic Allegiances, LLC, records on its website that its “Services have been provided to…Democratic National Committee…North Carolina Democratic Party, Sojourners and Call to Renewal, Maryland Democratic Party.”
Promoting his new book, former DNC chair Howard Dean has told audiences, “America has had ‘socialized’ medicine since 1964. It’s called Medicare; it covers every American over 65, and they are very happy with the program.” However, as common men and women are proving at Congressional townhall meetings, on radio talk shows, and in diners across the country, those not on George Soros’s payroll are distinctly unhappy with this proposal.
This article originally ran as the weekend lead on Friday, August 7, 2009, on FrontPage Magazine.