“Progressive” Doesn’t Always Mean Progressive (Looking at you, PPI)

We’ve known for a long time that the name of an organization is often a smokescreen (h/t to Source Watch):

  • Center for Consumer Freedom is a front group for tobacco, restaurant, and alchoholic industries.
  • National Wetlands Coalition opposes policies to protect U.S. wetlands.
  • The Global Climate Coalition is funded by the oil and coal companies.

Front groups just turn my stomach, because essentially they are lies from the start. They use a name that is supposed to make you trust them, then they sneakily (or brashly) push their agenda, hoping you won’t notice the disconnect.

There’s another set of groups that aren’t front groups, but they are arising as well. They are the new  “third way” organizations that are the DLC made over, trying to find a middle ground between conservatives and progressives. While I often disagree with the results (the policies are often conservative ones with the rough edges removed), I can at least sympathize with what they are trying to do. Politics is, after all, about compromise, and if we can find a way to move even part of the progressive agenda forward through compromise, then I’m willing to look at it.

Note that I said they aren’t front groups, because they don’t call themselves one thing but promote something else. If you call your organization The Third Way, then you’re being pretty clear.

Then there’s the Progressive Policy Institute.

ppiI saw the “progressive” in the name, so I signed up for the newsletter and action alerts and the whole schmeer. I mean, we on the left need more think tanks, correct? It will take us years to develop the number of institutes and the accompanying funding that the right has built. Anybody who can build and fund and run a high-quality progressive think tank gets my support.

Then I started getting the PPI newsletters. Concerned about what I read there, I decided to check out their web site and browse their issue papers and blog posts.

Hmm … they oppose Net Neutrality? They’re blaming the students for the massive student debt? They support charter schools? They support fracking? They support the TPP?

I could go on, but you get the idea. Not only are they a classic DLC invention, that has seemingly moved further and further to the right … but they call themselves “progressive,” then proceed to shoot down every progressive initiative in sight. I could not find one position paper that I would call “progressive” in any meaningful use of the word.

And yet, they can do press releases stating that the “Progessive Policy Institute agrees with Mitch McConnell on this issue,” and the copy machines otherwise known as “reporters” dutifully report that “even progressives support the Senator and believe we should charge even higher student loan rates.”

Well, here’s one progressive who knows how to actually use a web browser and read your position papers. And the results are clear:

They may be a policy institute, but they are definitely NOT progressive.