Saturday, August 14, 2010

FACT CHECK: Socialists in the United States Congress?


The Twitterverse and various blogs were ablaze today (13-AUG-2010) about a supposed list of U.S. Congressmen and Congresswomen that are members of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Most of this can be traced back to the following blog link.

American Socialists Release Names of 70 Congressional Democrats in Their Ranks
http://gatewaypundit.firstthings.com/2010/08/american-socialists-release-names-of-70-congressional-democrats-in-their-caucus/

Is it true? The blog claims that the list appeared in a now-unavailable October 2009 newsletter. The blog does contain a link to an alleged copy of the web site on Scribd.com as proof of the allegation.

I was unable to find an independently verifiable copy of the supposed newsletter.

However, many of the names on the alleged list do match up with current members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, whose membership is listed on an official U.S. government House of Representatives web site.

Are the various members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus actually socialists? I cannot make that claim based on the evidence. However, one member, Senator Bernie Sanders, is officially labeled "Independent" but is a self-described socialist--as mentioned on his Senate web page in a biographical newspaper article. Strangely, I agree with Senator Sanders on auditing the Federal Reserve Bank, but then again, so do many in both the House and the Senate.

Another member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, had a revealing slip-of-the-tongue during testimony, as shown in the following video.


While I cannot say whether the members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are indeed members of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), I can say that the DSA tends to support the policies of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

In a frequently-asked questions document from the DSA website titled "What is Democratic Socialism?", on page 3, the DSA answers the question, "Aren't you a party that's in competition with the Democratic Party for votes and support?"

"No, we are not a separate party. Like our friends and allies in the feminist, labor, civil rights, religious, and community organizing movements, many of us have been active in the Democratic Party. We work with those movements to strengthen the party’s left wing, represented by the Congressional Progressive Caucus."

In fact, according to DiscoverTheNetworks.org, the Congressional Progressive Caucus "worked in open partnership with Democratic Socialists of America" unil 1999. See also DiscoverTheNetwors.org's page regarding the SDA.

It is also interesting to see that DSA's "friends and allies" in labor are major campaign contributors to members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

My Congressman, Sam Farr, is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. According to the Center for Responsive Politics (OpenSecrets.org), his major campaign contributors are from out-of-state political action committees (PACs) associated with public-employee unions and labor unions. The United Auto Workers (UAW) and Aerospace Workers Union are particularly interesting because Santa Cruz, California has neither automobile or aircraft manufacturing. Many of the organizations have ties back to the AFL-CIO, which itself has ties to American socialism. Unanswered question: Are organizations like the AAJ, the National Association of Realtors, and American Medical Association (AMA) also considered trade unions?

  1. American Association for Justice (AAJ) $82,000 (formerly known as the "Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) )"
  2. Teamsters Union $81,500
  3. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) $77,750
  4. American Federation of State/County/Municipal Employees (AFSCME) $72,500
  5. Machinists/Aerospace Workers Union $72,000
  6. United Auto Workers (UAW) $64,000
  7. Laborers Union $57,000
  8. National Association of Realtors $56,250
  9. National Education Association $51,500
  10. Sheet Metal Workers Union $45,000
  11. Plumbers/Pipefitters Union $41,500
  12. United Food & Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) $41,505
  13. American Medical Association (AMA) $41,250
  14. National Beer Wholesalers Association $41,000
  15. American Federation of Teachers $40,200
  16. American Crystal Sugar $36,500
  17. Carpenters & Joiners Union $34,500
  18. PG&E Corp $30,925
  19. National Association of Letter Carriers $30,750
  20. Blue Diamond Grower $30,500


Looking at the campaign donations for other members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the pattern is similar (see full list as the end of the article). In fact, public-employee and labor unions are some of the largest political donors, and mostly to a single political party. I wonder how many union members are happy that their mandatory union dues help fund the campaigns of the Congressional Progressive Caucus?

Top 124 All-Time Political Donors (1989-2010)

Note the political leaning of a group's donations. Many of the unions given 95%+ to the Democratic Party.

Not surprising, similar campaign contribution patterns and influences exist in California state politics.

I must admit a strong personal bias against some on the list. As a free-market Constitutionalist that believes in small, limited government, more local control, and sane fiscal policy, their political views likely differ significantly from my own. Judging from the mission statement on their web site, I likely agree on the problems but also likely disagree with their proposed solutions.

I also personally find more than a few on the list professionally incompetent, including Congressman Barney Frank for his many, many transgressions on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (NOTE TO MASSACHUSETTS: http://www.retirebarney.com/)

I have similar disdain for many Congressmen/women from my own state of California, including Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Congressman Pete Stark, Congressman Henry Waxman, and Congresswoman Linda Sánchez. Speaker Pelosi is no longer an active member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. She gave up her membership when she became Speaker of the House (although I'll bet she is still with them in spirit). I was surprised to see Congressman Mike Honda on the member list (maybe I need to change my opinion of him). Seeing so many California Congressmen/women on the list may explain why California is such an economic basket case.

See also ...

Using information from the Center for Responsive Politics (OpenSecrets.org), I separated the members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus into four groups, based on a subjective review of his or her major contributors. Where appropriate, there is a link to an associated video highlight of the Congressman's/women's sheer brilliance.

[YES] = Most top campaign contributors are public-employee or labor unions
[MOSTLY] = Many top campaign contributors are public-employee or labor unions
[MIXED] = Some top campaign contributors are public-employee or labor unions, but some are not
[NO] = Few top campaign contributors are public-employee or labor unions

Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (as of 2-JUN-2010)


Co-Chairs

Hon. Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-07) [YES]

Hon. Lynn Woolsey (CA-06) [YES]

Vice Chairs

Hon. Diane Watson (CA-33) [YES]

Hon. Keith Ellison (MN-05) [YES]

Hon. Sheila Jackson-Lee (TX-18) [YES]

Hon. Mazie Hirono (HI-02) [MIXED]

Hon. Dennis Kucinich (OH-10) [YES]

Hon. Donna F. Edwards (MD-04) [MIXED]

Hon. Alan Grayson (FL-08) [YES]


Senate Members

Hon. Roland Burris (IL) [NO]

Hon. Bernie Sanders (VT) [YES]

Hon. Tom Udall (NM) [YES]


House Members

Hon. Tammy Baldwin (WI-02) [MOSTLY]

Hon. Xavier Becerra (CA-31) [YES]

Hon. Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) [YES]

Hon. Robert Brady (PA-01) [YES]

Hon. Corrine Brown (FL-03) [MOSTLY]

Hon. Michael Capuano (MA-08) [MIXED]

Hon. André Carson (IN-07) [MOSTLY]

Hon. Donna Christensen (VI-AL) [NO]

Hon. Judy Chu (CA-32) [MOSTLY]

Hon. Yvette Clarke (NY-11) [YES]

Hon. William “Lacy” Clay (MO-01) [YES]

Hon. Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05) [MIXED]

Hon. Steve Cohen (TN-09) [MIXED]

Hon. John Conyers (MI-14) [YES]

Hon. Elijah Cummings (MD-07) [YES]

Hon. Danny Davis (IL-07) [YES]

Hon. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) [YES]

Hon. Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) [MOSTLY]

Hon. Sam Farr (CA-17) [YES]

Hon. Chaka Fattah (PA-02) [YES]

Hon. Bob Filner (CA-51) [YES]

Hon. Barney Frank (MA-04) [MIXED] Lots of financial institutions

Hon. Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11) [MIXED]

Hon. Luis Gutierrez (IL-04) [YES]

Hon. John Hall (NY-19) [MIXED]

Hon. Phil Hare (IL-17) [YES]

Hon. Alcee Hastings (FL-23) [MOSTLY]

Hon. Maurice Hinchey (NY-22) [YES]

Hon. Michael Honda (CA-15) [YES]

Hon. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (IL-02) [MIXED]

Hon. Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30) [MOSTLY]

Hon. Hank Johnson (GA-04) [YES]

Hon. Marcy Kaptur (OH-09) [YES]

Hon. Carolyn Kilpatrick (MI-13) [MIXED]

Hon. Barbara Lee (CA-09) [YES]

Hon. John Lewis (GA-05) [YES]

Hon. David Loebsack (IA-02) [YES]

Hon. Ben R. Lujan (NM-3) [MIXED]

Hon. Carolyn Maloney (NY-14) [MIXED]

Hon. Ed Markey (MA-07) [NO]

Hon. Jim McDermott (WA-07) [MIXED]

Hon. James McGovern (MA-03) [YES]

Hon. George Miller (CA-07) [YES]

Hon. Gwen Moore (WI-04) [YES]

Hon. Jim Moran (VA-08) [NO]

Hon. Jerrold Nadler (NY-08) [MOSTLY]

Hon. Eleanor Holmes-Norton (DC-All) [YES]

Hon. John Olver (MA-01) [YES]

Hon. Frank Pallone (NJ-06) [YES]

Hon. Ed Pastor (AZ-04) [YES]

Hon. Donald Payne (NJ-10) [YES]

Hon. Chellie Pingree (ME-01) [MIXED]

Hon. Jared Polis (CO-02) [NO]

Hon. Charles Rangel (NY-15) [MIXED]

Hon. Laura Richardson (CA-37) [YES]

Hon. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-34) [YES]

Hon. Bobby Rush (IL-01) [YES]

Hon. Linda Sánchez (CA-39) [YES]

Hon. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) [YES]

Hon. José Serrano (NY-16) [YES]

Hon. Louise Slaughter (NY-28) [YES]

Hon. Pete Stark (CA-13) [MOSTLY]

Hon. Bennie Thompson (MS-02) [YES]

Hon. John Tierney (MA-06) [YES]

Hon. Nydia Velazquez (NY-12) [YES]

Hon. Maxine Waters (CA-35) [YES]

Hon. Mel Watt (NC-12) [MIXED]

Hon. Henry Waxman (CA-30) [MOSTLY]

Hon. Peter Welch (VT-AL) [MIXED]

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