A few weeks back we were among the first report on Hillary’s wall street speeches leaked by WikiLeaks. Within those speeches, Hillary’s comments regarding the need for both a “public and private” position on policy issues drew a lot of attention from voters.
But, with the latest WikiLeaks dump this morning came a new revelation that Hillary isn’t the only one who struggles with balancing a “public and private” position. Apparently John Podesta has also struggled with the very same balancing act. The latest example came from an email regarding the Washington Center for Equitable Growth (WCEG) which Podesta founded as an arm of his liberal/progressive “advocacy group,” The Center for American Progress.
Per their website, the goal of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, is to develop “independent” research with academics from around the country, with an emphasis on income inequality in the United States.
Over the past 40 years, economic inequality in the United States has returned to levels last seen in the 1920s. Today, the United States is in the top quarter of the world’s most unequal countries. Economic mobility—a child’s likelihood of occupying a different position on the income ladder than his or her parents did—has fallen well behind Canada, Great Britain, and other advanced economies. And inequality has worsened over the course of the current economic recovery.
Economists have documented these changes extensively, but we need to know more about the effects, if any, of rising economic inequality on America’s overall economic growth and stability. New research suggests that growing inequality in the United States may have broad social and economic effects by reducing stable demand for goods and services, dampening entrepreneurialism, undermining the inclusiveness and responsiveness of political and economic institutions, limiting access to education, and stunting individual development. Yet our understanding of how these mechanisms interact with the broader economy is limited.
The Washington Center for Equitable Growth is a new research and grantmaking organization founded to accelerate cutting-edge analysis into whether and how structural changes in the U.S. economy, particularly related to economic inequality, affect growth. Core to our mission is helping to build a stronger bridge between academics and policymakers so that new research is relevant, accessible, and informative to the policymaking process.
The problem was that Podesta, and others within WCEG, thought that their research would not be deemed credible to the extent it was viewed as an arm of the leftist Center for American Progress. So, just like Hillary, they came up with a plan to create a new WCEG with both a “public and private” image. Unfortunately, per a memo leaked by WikiLeaks, the WCEG’s plan to be “fiercely independent” acknowledged they would still need support from the Center for American Progress provided that it “leaves no fingerprints.” Finally, readers of the memo were warned to “please burn this email after you read it.”
Our mission is to be “fiercely independent.” Every day, we must convey to academics and policymakers that our research is unbiased and honest. While we believe there is much to be gained from our affiliation with CAP, we also believe that for us to be successful—and to do the most to support the work of CAP and other progressive organizations—requires that CAP’s support “leaves no fingerprints.” (Please burn this email after you read it!) We want to be able to tap into CAP’s resources—and allow them to tap into ours—as it makes sense, but with a public-facing image that is independent of CAP.
But, to maintain our “fierce independence,” we need:
– Phone lines that show up as “Equitable Growth,” not “Center for American Progress.”
– Job openings posted on our site, not CAP’s
– Our staff listed on our own website, not CAP’s
– The ability to sign contracts with academics and researchers saying only “Equitable Growth,” not “Center for American Progress.”
– To be able to raise funds specifically to send directly out the door in support or grantmaking that do not have to include all of CAP’s standard 15 percent overhead.
– To control our spending by having a Washington Center for Equitable Growth credit card to expedite securing event space, among other things.
And there you go, all it takes is a couple of phone lines and a new website and another liberal “advocacy group” becomes a “fiercely independent” economic research organization with the credibility to influence public policy in an “impartial” way.