The Daily Change

The Big Ideas Project: One Month Later

unnamedA month ago the Progressive Change Institute (PCCC’s C3 sister organization) launched the Big Ideas Project at ThinkBig.US -- a crowd-sourced platform allowing the public to submit and vote on big ideas they believe progressives should champion in 2015 and 2016.

And in that month, the crowd definitely responded.

Over 800,000 votes have been cast on over 2,000 user-submitted ideas, including over 30 from policy experts from AFL-CIO, Demos, ROC United, Lawrence Lessig, former Senators Byron Dorgan and Ted Kaufman, plus many more.

The top 20 ideas that rise to the top will be seriously considered by over 30 members of Congress, including Senators Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, Jon Tester and Representatives Raul Grijalva, Keith Ellison, Alan Grayson, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Ruben Gallego, and more.

PCI will even be polling ideas pulled from the project in battleground states.

Some of the top ideas are:

Now is the time to expand Social Security — not cut it. Social Security benefits simply haven't kept up with the rising costs that seniors face—for medicine, food, and housing. We're facing a retirement crisis where seniors can't rely on pensions and other parts of the social contract. We need to increase benefits to make sure they reflect the true costs seniors face. Expanding Social Security is the best way to ensure all Americans have the economic security they need to retire with dignity.

Corporations are paper, not people. People before profit. Enact laws which reverse Citizens United, McCutcheon, and Buckley v. Valeo. Without a fair field in which everyday people are heard and treated equally, when, as we're now seeing, corporations and money carry more weight than the voices of our citizens, our entire system of ...

PCCC's Top Ten Highlights of 2014

PCCC Top Ten

PCCC Election Report 2014

1. Progressive Victories Everywhere:

The PCCC enter the new Congress with more partners than ever. Bold progressives won early primaries against corporate Democrats -- electing Senator Brian Schatz in Hawaii, and Representatives Bonnie Watson Coleman in New Jersey, Ruben Gallego in Arizona, and Ted Lieu and Mike Honda in California.

These bright-blue districts will be represented by real progressives! And PCCC members helped elect great progressives to the Senate and House in November. (Read the full 2014 Elections Report.)

2. PCCC Members Called Out The Vote:

Thousands of national volunteers signed up to Call Out The Vote (COTV). Together, they made over 4 million phone calls to voters in key races.

The PCCC was the only national call program of this scale that worked directly with campaigns -- so they could use the data the PCCC collected, making the work twice as effective.

These calls helped key progressive champions like Al Franken and Jeff Merkley win re-election to the Senate -- and helped Rep. Rick Nolan in Minnesota win one of the tightest House elections.

P100 field trainees working on a project.

3. PCCC Infrastructure Worked:

The PCCC has been developing infrastructure to support thousands of progressives up and down the ballot, and it's beginning to pay off.

This cycle, the PCCC trained over 600 candidates, campaign managers, field directors, finance directors, and communications directors, from Iowa to Florida to New Hampshire.

And the PCCC's special technology for campaigns helped support over 150 candidates.

Considering a run for office in the next several years? Let the PCCC know here.

Zephyr Teachout speaking at PCCC event supporting Elizabeth Warren's call to break up Citigroup, Dec 2014.

4. PCCC Loves Zephyr ...

PCCC and Allies Amplify Elizabeth Warren's Message, Chant "Break Big Banks" Outside Citi HQ

Zephyr Teachout, Bob Master, and TJ Helmstetter address a group of demonstrators outside Citigroup HQ. Photo by Nick Moe.

A demonstration of about 120 people gathered outside Citigroup's headquarters in midtown Manhattan to amplify Elizabeth Warren's message that it's time to break up the big banks, including PCCC members, Working Families Party, former New York gubernatorial candidate and reformer Zephyr Teachout, New York Communities for Change, Citizen Action New York, American Family Voices, and other progressive allies.

On Tuesday, Dec. 16, Pres. Obama signedlaw written by Citigroup that repealed a major piece of Wall Street reform, resulting in risky derivatives bets now being insured by taxpayers. Elizabeth Warren shined a national spotlight on this issue from the Senate floor:

"There’s a lot of talk coming from Citigroup about how the Dodd-Frank Act isn’t perfect. So let me say this to anyone who is listening at Citi: I agree with you. Dodd-Frank isn’t perfect. It should have broken you into pieces."
-- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

About 120 demonstrators gathered to amplify Elizabeth Warren's message to break up the Big Banks. Photo from WFP Twitter.

"We are here today because Elizabeth Warren is right. We need to break up the Big Banks -- banks like Citigroup," said PCCC spokesperson TJ Helmstetter at the event.

"Elizabeth Warren has stuck her finger into the socket of American populism, and the country is lit up,” said former New York gubernatorial candidate and reformer Zephyr Teachout. “Now the lights are on, and every candidate running for president, whether it's Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush, has to answer the question: Do you think that Citigroup should be broken up, or do you think Wall Street should get to keep writing its own rules?"

"Citigroup has infiltrated so much of government that government is ...

#StandWithWarren -- Tell Congress Enough is Enough, It's time to #BreakBigBanks

Last week, Elizabeth Warren gave what some are calling a historic speech against bank power, telling Citigroup, "[we] should have broken you into pieces."

Thursday, right on Wall Street, the PCCC is holding a big media event to amplify to the need to break up Citigroup and the other too-big-to-fail banks. Are you in New York City? RSVP here.

Sign our petition calling on Congress to break up the "too big to fail" Wall Street banks.

This petition will be featured at the Wall Street event, and the PCCC will use the growing number of signers to convince other senators to support Warren's agenda. Your signature will have an immediate impact.

The PCCC will also be working hard -- through grassroots phone calls and in-person Capitol Hill meetings -- to get more support for Elizabeth Warren's big ideas on Wall Street reform.

After Senator Elizabeth Warren famously told Citigroup the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill "should have broken you into pieces," she said this:

A century ago, Teddy Roosevelt was America's trustbuster. He went after the giant trusts and monopolies in this country, and a lot of people talk about how those trusts deserved to be broken up because they had too much economic power. But Teddy Roosevelt said we should break them up because they had too much political power. Teddy Roosevelt said break them up because all that concentrated power threatened the very foundations of our democratic system.

And now we're watching as Congress passes yet another provision that was written by lobbyists for the biggest recipient of bailout money in the history of the country. And it's attached to a bill that needs to pass or else the entire federal government will grind to a halt.

Think about this kind of power. A financial institution has become ...

Wall Street Denied DCCC Chairmanship

Since the election, the PCCC has been telling Democrats to run on Elizabeth Warren's bold agenda of big, popular ideas like Wall Street reform.

When rumors swirled around Washington D.C. last week that Nancy Pelosi might nominate former Goldman Sachs executive Jim Himes to chair the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee -- the PCCC got alarmed.

Like the PCCC, the DCCC recruits Democrats to run for Congress. Unlike the PCCC, they don't always choose progressive candidates. Having the DCCC chaired by a banker who Businessweek called "Wall Street's Favorite Democrat" would have been disastrous for progressives and hurt Democrats' chances of winning back the majority in 2016.

That's why PCCC members took immediate action to head off Jim Himes' appointment -- calling Nancy Pelosi's office, sending her tweets and, in the process, making headlines in Time Magazine, The Hill, Politico, The Associated Press, and more.

PCCC members calls and tweets made a difference!

Here's the statement PCCC co-founder Adam Green made when Pelosi announced that Rep. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico will chair the DCCC:

We thank Leader Pelosi for not selecting Jim Himes to lead the DCCC -- thereby rejecting the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party. In order to win key House races, Democrats must run on big, bold, populist ideas like those championed by Elizabeth Warren. This means recruiting economic populist candidates -- especially in red and purple states -- and working with them to integrate a populist vision into their campaign messaging. The PCCC will be doing this, and we hope to partner with Rep. Ben Ray Luján and others to achieve success in 2016.

To see the difference this will make, read the statement Rep. Luján made when the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill was signed into ...

How to Win Like Elizabeth Warren

The op-ed below appeared in The Nation on Nov. 19.

From the rubble of the 2014 election, a conversation has started about the future of the Democratic Party. Senator Elizabeth Warren is central to that conversation.

This week, we learned that Warren will be joining the Senate Democratic leadership as strategic policy adviser to the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee. In this role — created specifically for her — she will help craft the party’s policies and priorities as well as serve as a liaison to progressive groups.

While there is some skepticism about the idea of a "liaison" to base Democratic voters, there is largely agreement that it is a good thing for the Democratic Party to follow her political footsteps. After all, she's adored by big swaths of the Democratic electorate and the public at large. On the campaign trail this fall, she was welcomed with open arms in Kentucky, West Virginia, Michigan, and other reddish-purple states, drawing overflow crowds cheering on her message of tougher Wall Street regulation and kinder policies for working people.

But what is it that works about her? What is her special sauce? Other Democratic and progressive candidates ask me all the time how they can capture the intangible "it," that Warren magic. Below, I've dissected her tactics and her policies, which are one and the same, to help candidates better understand how to tread her path.

Take, for example, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB); the idea that students should be able to borrow money for school at the same interest rate as banks can borrow money from the federal government; and the idea of adding basic banking — check-cashing, bill-paying, and small loans — to post office locations.

These proposals have a number of things in common. What’s Warren’s ...

Elizabeth Warren in Senate Leadership!

The Huffington Post reports:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) gained a leadership position in the Senate Democratic caucus Thursday [...] Warren's role, which is a new position created specifically for her, will be in crafting the party's messaging and policy.

This is a good reminder that when PCCC members invest early in progressive leaders, it's not just about winning elections in the short term -- it's about building power over time.

As Elizabeth Warren advocates for big ideas like reforming Wall Street, making college affordable, and expanding Social Security benefits, her voice will now be even louder -- because she'll be at the Democratic leadership table.

Click here to sign a congratulations card to Elizabeth Warren (and add a personal note), which the PCCC will deliver to her.

The PCCC ran the "Draft Elizabeth Warren for Senate" campaign and was her #1 grassroots supporter in 2012 raising over $1.17 million through over 70,000 small-dollar donations for her campaign. The PCCC partnered with Warren on big legislative pushes in 2013 and 2014.

With this news, that partnership grows stronger -- and all of Elizabeth Warren's and the PCCC's work together has more impact.

Progressives' Route to Power Beyond 2014

PCCC_2014_report_image_v2Last Tuesday was not a repeat of 2012, when PCCC members helped elect 30 amazing candidates -- including Elizabeth Warren. It looked more like 2010. It was tough. It was disappointing.

Candidates who ran great campaigns -- and should have won -- lost in the Republican wave. Bold progressives achieved some important victories Election Night, and some were too close for comfort.

But progressives need to remember that we don't just work for one election, one candidate, or one party. The PCCC and its members work to build a movement, to build long-term progressive power.

The PCCC Post-Election Report outlines the huge investments made this election cycle that are now for the long term -- in future leaders, new technology, new best practices, and more member empowerment. All in addition to congressional victories. Check it out here.

In the days ahead, there will be a national conversation about the future direction of the Democratic Party -- and the progressive movement.

Frankly, Democrats did not have a united economic agenda in this election. There was a lack of big ideas. Some Democrats tried to sound like Republicans, and they lost.

Elizabeth Warren was the most popular Democrat on the campaign trail for a reason: Her message of taking on Wall Street, reducing student debt, and expanding Social Security benefits is popular everywhere -- red, purple, and blue states.

Moving forward, something needs to change. America needs a bigger politics.

Progressives won't win their own tidal wave elections unless they can build a movement around big ideas -- free college, full employment, Medicare for All, more Social Security -- and the candidates who campaign on those ideas. Elizabeth Warren is the best example. But there are thousands of others out there who believe in a more expansive vision of political ...

Route to power for Democrats: Big ideas

Democrats lost on Tuesday, as widely predicted. But for months, pundits got wrong what Democrats would need to win.

There was rumor that youth turnout, Latino turnout, and cutting-edge Get Out The Vote practices would tip the balance in close races. But when "close" elections are decided by 7 to 12 points, something much bigger is happening.

Pundits say President Obama was unpopular. Score one for the pundits. But the critical question is: Why was the president so unpopular?

Did voters not show up because of Syria, Obamacare, or Ebola? No.

Was President Obama proposing some big liberal idea, sparking backlash? No. It's hard to remember the last time the President offered a big idea.

Jobs and economic security are consistently the top issues voters say they care about in red, purple, and blue states. But Democrats did not have a united economic agenda in this election.

Voters did not wake up on Election Day thinking that their ability to have a job, have affordable college education, or to retire with security was at stake. It was a Seinfeld-ian election about nothing. And nothing does not inspire potential voters to vote. In the absence of big ideas, Democrats lost.

Harry Reid Talks Expanding Social Security for First Time

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid sent a fundraising email to the PCCC's nearly 1 million members nationwide yesterday saying that a Senate Republican Majority would "hold our government hostage in order to pressure President Obama to swallow right-wing policies."

Sen. Reid urged PCCC members to support  Mark Udall (CO-Sen), Bruce Braley (IA-Sen), and Mark Begich (AK-Sen) to help Democrats keep the Senate and avoid a Republican Majority.

In addition to raising the prospect of impeachment in a Republican Senate, Reid spoke publicly about expanding Social Security benefits for the first time ever.

Check out Sen. Reid's email:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid
Date: Wed, Oct 29, 2014
Subject: I need these three

Progressive Change Campaign Committee

Mary,

In 6 days, the fate of the final two years of the Obama administration will be determined.

Either House Speaker John Boehner and a new Senate Republican Majority hold our government hostage in order to pressure President Obama to swallow right-wing policies.

Or, we shock Karl Rove, the Koch Brothers, and many pundits like we did on Election Night 2012 -- and have a Democratic Senate that puts hard-working Americans first.

I need Mark Udall (Colorado), Bruce Braley (Iowa), and Mark Begich (Alaska) to win their elections. All three races are neck and neck.

If you want Democrats to keep our Senate majority, please donate $3 to their campaigns. Please do it right away.

Udall, Braley, and Begich stand with me in opposing cuts to Social Security. In the red state of Alaska, Begich is narrowly leading after campaigning to expand Social Security benefits.

Americans are struggling. They need a government that actually tries to solve problems.But Republicans have already shown they have zero interest.

Frankly, a Republican House and Senate could go beyond shutting down the government -- they could waste months of our lives on impeachment. And every month that goes by without solutions, struggling Americans are in pain.

Join me ...

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