Obama’s once-vaunted Organizing for America silent in tax cut debate

One group has been conspicuously quiet during the debate over whether to extend all or some of the Bush tax cuts: Organizing for America.

While groups such as the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and MoveOn.org have rallied the grassroots to call on President Obama to fight against a compromise extending current tax rates for high-end earners, OFA has been largely silent.

A look at OFA’s website Friday showed no mention of the debate. On Monday, a vote in the Senate Saturday had given OFA something to talk about, as they railed against Republicans “demanding tax cuts for millionaires or no tax cuts at all.”

But there has been no agitation or organizing similar to other groups like PCCC and MoveOn. Those groups have run TV ads, raised money and urged supporters to pressure Obama and Congress to draw the line at extending current tax rates for only those making less than $250,000 a year or less.

PCCC and MoveOn are now thought of as the top two liberal progressive organizations by many in the grassroots, unlike OFA, which has lost most of its movement credibility. OFA’s silence on tax cuts was the second such move by OFA in the last week to speed along that brand disintegration.

At the end of November, OFA sent an e-mail to supporters encouraging them to send letters to the editor of their local newspapers in support of Obama’s call for a two-year pay freeze for government workers.

The left recoiled at the heresy.

“We’ve officially gone around the bend,” wrote David Dayen, at FireDogLake.com.

OFA, Dayen wrote, “originally began its life as an organization trying to get someone elected on the platform of hope, change, and progressive policies. You had a public option in health care, cap and trade, a more progressive tax system, diplomacy abroad, and a belief in American values of equality and opportunity.”

Robert Kuttner, co-editor of the American Prospect, called the use of OFA to advocate for freezing government worker pay “disgraceful.”

OFA’s silence on the Bush tax cut debate shows the difficulty of having a group intended to organize and direct the chaotic and often hardline grassroots when it is working on behalf of a politician in power who cuts deals, as most do.

When Obama announced OFA’s formation a few days before his inauguration in 2009, he said it was the result of the “largest grassroots movement in history.”

The organization, a spin-off of Obama’s campaign organization that boasted an e-mail list of 13 million names, was thought of as a juggernaut.

Now, some liberal progressives say that massive e-mail list is useless, and that OFA is irrelevant.

Lynda Tran, an OFA spokeswoman, said that the group was staying active in the current political debates.

“OFA supporters are working hard making calls to Congress, writing letters and making their voices heard on a number of important issues — including repealing [Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell], passing the DREAM Act and extending unemployment benefits for individuals who are out of work through no fault of their own, among others,” Tran said.

“The president has been clear he thinks it is critically important that middle class Americans not face a tax hike on January 1 — and OFA volunteers support his efforts to address this issue before the adjournment of the 111th Congress.”

E-mail Jon Ward and follow him on Twitter

  • nomore

    I grew up in a family full of 60’s radical progressives and learned quickly that progressives will cannibalize each other over the methodology of tying their shoelaces. I’m a Conservative and would rather see my taxes go up than concede to any of Obama’s deficit increasing demands. However, progressives will be enranged with Obama for retaining the current tax rates. Let the cannibalization begin!! It’ll be like my childhood Christmases all over again.

  • flips

    Obama is a sell-out, corporatist who is begging for a primary challenge from his left.

    I suspect it is House Dems turn to hold tax cuts for the rich hostage.

    Should be interesting, they have nothing to lose, they are becoming the minority anyway.

    Might as well kick the teabaggers in the nuts on your way out the door.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-G/504624590 Chris G.

      I’d like to see you progressive socialists try. We are armed — are you? (click, click!)

      • flips

        We wouldn’t kick you. You have no nuts.

        Thus the gun worship.

    • loudog

      Repubs say “no unemployment insurance unless millionaires get a tax break” and people here will cheer them on, presumably the safely employed or retired collecting soc sec.

      • adamincalifornia

        Just so we are clear:

        At this moment 90% of income tax dollars collected in the US are paid by 5% of the population.

        So the progressives scream that “The rich should pay their fair share!”

        Were that the case they’d pay for 5% instead of 90%. Then you and I would have to increase our 10% of the pie to 90%. And while you scream “fiscal responsibility” then there is the 40% of all federal revenues that are borrowed. Add it together and you are looking at over a 10X increase in tax payments for 95% of Americans if your dual demands for “fairness” and “fiscal responsibility” were acted on.

        But you don’t really mean “fairness” do you? You want that 10% to pay something like 99% of the income tax bill. let’s indulge that fantasy for a moment.

        The President’s own bipartisan commission recently concluded that the US Income tax rates for Corporations are already too high and leading to few tax dollars being collected. How can that be? Well if I am McDonalds and I raise the price of a Big Mac high enough, no one will buy them. Then I will start losing money on the Big Mac. When you make the price of engaging in economic activity (which corporate taxes are – exactly) relative to a similarly situated somewhere else, then that economic activity goes somewhere else – like to Burger King. Or Europe where corporate taxes are much lower than in the US (which has the world’s highest corporate tax rates among developed nations).

        So your choices are: (1) continue being both dishonest and stupid by screaming for “the rich to pay their fair share”; (2) continue to be ignorant and destructive and insist that America continue to chase away wealth – a situation which will force your taxes much higher AND force significant cutbacks in services (there isn’t enough taxable income among that 90% to make up for getting rid of the 10%); or (3) actually do the math, think, take a few econ classes (esp on monetary finance) and find yourself advocating for fiscal conservative policies.

        I bet you pick both 1 and 2.

        • loudog

          or 4. call for all tax cuts to expire, return to the Clinton era tax rates for everyone when we had record economic growth, job growth and a claim of a balanced budget and call for spending cuts.

          and while supporting option 4, understand that;

          “The Economists’ statement opposing the Bush tax cuts was a statement signed by roughly 450 economists, including ten of the twenty four American Nobel Prize Laureates alive at the time, in February 2003 who urged the U.S. President George W. Bush not to enact the 2003 tax cuts”

          “Passing these tax cuts will worsen the long-term budget outlook, adding to the nation’s projected chronic deficits. This fiscal deterioration will reduce the capacity of the government to finance Social Security and Medicare benefits as well as investments in schools, health, infrastructure, and basic research. Moreover, the proposed tax cuts will generate further inequalities in after-tax income.” – all turned out to be true.

          I guess those nobel laureates just needed a few more econ classes so they could understand as well as you think you do.

        • loudog

          Mr. Libertarian Republican himself
          ”I’m in favor of tax cuts, but not with borrowed money,” Greenspan said. ”Our choices right now are not between good and better; they’re between bad and worse. The problem we now face is the most extraordinary financial crisis that I have ever seen or read about.”


    • jonavark

      scorp you deranged illiterate fool. You’re the lowest common denominator here. The least capable thinker and the most delusional idiot on this website.

      Thanks for sticking around to kick.

    • adamincalifornia

      So is it only a matter of time until Progre$$ives call him and “Uncle Tom” or “House N*****” like they did Colin Powell and Condi Rice? I always love how Progre$$ives like Ted Rall have to complete latitude to be wanton racists and get applauded for it from their fellow cretins.

  • Tess_Comments

    Yes to a temporary extension of the Tax Cuts for ALL.
    No to START.
    No to the DREAM ACT.
    Do not turn Unemployment Insurance into WELFARE. %0 wweks of coverage is more than enough. 99 weeks is excessive.

  • adamincalifornia


    MoveOn is asking readers to submit videos of themselves asking for Obama to return to 2008.

    “We want Obama back

    MoveOn members have a message for President Obama: Say no to millionaire bailouts and bring back the Obama of 2008—the smart, tough progressive who inspired millions.

    Submit your own video »”

    Back to the future! Will there be a Delorean, a failed professor and a dog named Einstein? I guess we already have the failed professor in Obama, so who will play the dog and can they find a bullet proof Delorean that the secret service will sign off on?

  • adamincalifornia

    Cognitive dissonance.

    Remember when Obama was sold by these same progressives as a “pragmatist” and “post-partisan”?

    I do.

    “We chose Intellect and Pragmatism over Bravado.”

    They now find that making pragmatic choices (aka “compromise”) is anathema because it violates their progressive orthodoxy. Progressives and liberals spent so much time out of power in this country that they had the luxury of constructing fantasy policies that would solve all problems magically. Now that those policies aren’t proving magical (instead they have proved disastrous) they are attacking the illusionist they hired for not having actual magical powers.

  • loudog

    Obama’s in desperate need of advice from Clinton (Bill). He’s an amateur and all but this is getting embarrassing.

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