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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Mitt Romney: Newt Gingrich.......

Has Brought Creativity and Intellectual Vitality to American Political Life


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Mitt Romney made the following statement on Newt Gingrich’s announcement:

“Newt Gingrich has brought creativity and intellectual vitality to American political life.  During the course of this campaign, Newt demonstrated both eloquence and fearlessness in advancing conservative ideas. Although he long ago created an enduring place for himself in American history, I am confident that he will continue to make important contributions to our party and to the life of the nation. Ann and I are proud to call Newt and Callista friends and we look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead as we fight to restore America’s promise.”

Gingrich finally suspends bid for the presidency

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Benjamin Myers / Reuters
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich speaks next to his wife Callista Gingrich as he suspends his presidential campaign May 2 in Arlington, Va.

ARLINGTON, VA -- Newt Gingrich finally ended his presidential bid on Wednesday at a hotel just outside of the nation's capital, where he once led the Republican Party in Congress.
Newt Gingrich end his run for president on after winning only two of the dozens of nominating contests in the Republican primary race.



Watch his entire speech.



After a week of broadcasting his intent to suspend his campaign -- including the release of a video earlier this week thanking supporters and previewing the announcement -- Gingrich formally ended his bid for the Republican presidential nomination at an event his campaign had billed as a "press conference to announce suspension of campaign."

"Today, I'm suspending the campaign but suspending the campaign does not mean suspending citizenship. Callista and I are committed to be active citizens. We owe it to America. We owe it to Maggie and Robert," Gingrich said, referring to his only two grandchildren, here in his home state of Virginia.

Once bitter rival of Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP nominee, Gingrich vowed during his 26 minute speech to do whatever possible to beat Barack Obama but came short of actually endorsing Romney.

"I'm asked sometimes is Mitt Romney conservative enough. And my answer is simple: compared to Barack Obama? You know, this is not a choice between Mitt Romney and Ronald Reagan. This is a choice between Mitt Romney and the most radical leftist President in American history," Gingrich said while addressing roughly 100 members of the media inside the Hilton Hotel.

Romney said in a statement: "Newt Gingrich has brought creativity and intellectual vitality to American political life.  During the course of this campaign, Newt demonstrated both eloquence and fearlessness in advancing conservative ideas. Although he long ago created an enduring place for himself in American history, I am confident that he will continue to make important contributions to our party and to the life of the nation."

Gingrich’s spokesman said an official endorsement of Romney is still to come.

The news was far from surprising, given the way the former House speaker had been openly discussing the prospect of his exiting from the race ever since he finished poorly in the Delaware primary.

After finishing nearly 30 percent behind Mitt Romney in DE -- a state Gingrich frequented leading up to the election -- the speaker basically  gave two concession speeches while campaigning in North Carolina last week. He began calling Romney the "nominee" and said it was time to "be honest about what's happening in the real world as opposed to what you would like to have happen."

Gingrich's campaign had been considered virtually dead for weeks, though the winner of the South Carolina and Georgia primaries vowed to contest the nomination all the way through the Republican convention this summer in Tampa. Gingrich had assailed Romney's conservatism, and, to boot, President Obama's campaign circulated a video this morning featuring the ex-speaker's greatest hits against Romney.

That said, the month of May is far later in the election cycle than most political observers thought Gingrich would last. After suffering missteps in the launch of his campaign, most of Gingrich's senior staff quit on him last June.

Gingrich must also still work to erase millions of debts incurred during his campaign, mostly during its tail end.

But at today’s event, the Speaker seemed cheerful and unfazed by the $4 million hole he is in. He rather spent time talking about one of his most memorable ideas from the past 10 months – his proposed moon colony.

“My wife has pointed out to me approximately 219 times, give or take three, that the moon colony was probably not my most clever comment in this campaign. I thought, frankly, in my role providing material for Saturday night live it was helpful but the underlying key point is real,” Gingrich joked.

The Truth About GOP Hero Ayn Rand

By , Think Progress
Posted on April 20, 2011, 

Ayn Rand -- Russian emigre, founder of the mid-century Objectivist movement, putative philosopher, writer of the novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and the inspiration for a small but intensely devoted band of acolytes -- has been enjoying a resurgence of late on the American right. The cultural capstone to this resurgence arrived last week with the release of a filmed adaptation of the first third of Atlas Shrugged, independently financed by a wealthy devotee of Rand's work and pitched explicitly at the Tea Party demographic.

FreedomWorks, one of the central organizations in that movement, rolled out a massive campaign to encourage audience attendance and to push the film into as many theaters as possible. The 2011 CPAC conference held the world premiere of Atlas Shrugged's trailer, and the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation hosted an advanced screening of the film. This marketing tactic is understandable. The opening line of Atlas Shrugged -- "Who is John Galt?" -- has appeared again and again on signs at Tea Party protests across the nation. The Tea Party builds the theme of "Going Galt" into its rhetoric -- a reference to the strike of industry titans organized by the hero of the novel.

Glenn Beck praises Atlas Shrugged regularly on his various shows, and even held a panel dedicated to asking if Rand's fiction is finally becoming reality. The  Economist reported several sharp spikes in sales of Atlas Shrugged since 2007. And according to the Ayn Rand Institute, sales of the novel hit an all-time annual record that year, then reached a new record in 2008, with possibly another peak in 2009. By all accounts, Ayn Rand is now one of the central intellectual and cultural inspirations for the base of the Republican Party.

RAND'S INFLUENCE ON GOP

"For over half a century," says Jennifer Burns, a recent biographer of the novelist, "Rand has been the ultimate gateway drug to life on the right." And with good reason. Besides her prominence in the Tea Party's intellectual and cultural lexicon, some of the Republican Party's leading lights have cited Rand by name as an inspiration.
  • Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said she was the reason he entered public service. 
  • Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) called Atlas Shrugged "his foundational book." 
  • Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) told listeners that readers ate up Rand's Alas Shrugged because "it was telling the truth," and even conservative 
  • Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas references her work as influence in his autobiography -- and apparently has his law clerks watch the film adaptation of The Fountainhead
The phenomenon holds amidst the right-wing media as well:
  • Rush Limbaugh called her "brilliant," 
  • Glenn Beck's panel on Rand featured the president of the Ayn Rand Institute Yaroom Brook, and 
  • Andrew Napolitano enthusiastically recounted a story in which his college-age self introduces his mother to Rand's The Virtue of Selfishness
  • John Stossel and Sean Hannity have name-dropped her as well. Going further back, 
  • Alan Greenspan -- former chairman of the Federal Reserve and a fierce advocate of free-market ideology -- is an acolyte of Rand's thinking and knew her personally, and 
Rand was also dubbed the unofficial "novelist laureate" of the Reagan Administration by Maureen Dowd.
Indeed, the most remarkable thing about Ayn Rand's reach on the right is how unremarked-upon it most often is.


RAND'S PHILOSOPHY

The philosophy, such as it was, which Rand laid out in her novels and essays was a frightful concoction of hyper-egotism, power-worship and anarcho-capitalism. She opposed all forms of welfare, unemployment insurance, support for the poor and middle-class, regulation of industry and government provision for roads or other infrastructure. She also insisted that law enforcement, defense and the courts were the only appropriate arenas for government, and that all taxation should be purely voluntary. Her view of economics starkly divided the world into a contest between "moochers" and "producers," with the small group making up the latter generally composed of the spectacularly wealthy, the successful, and the titans of industry. The "moochers" were more or less everyone else, leading TNR's Jonathan Chait to describe Rand's thinking as a kind of inverted Marxism.

Marx considered wealth creation to result solely from the labor of the masses, and viewed the owners of capital and the economic elite to be parasites feeding off that labor. 
Rand simply reversed that value judgment, applying the role of "parasite" to everyday working people instead. 
On the level of personal behavior, the heroes in Rand's novels commit borderline rape, blow up buildings, and dynamite oil fields -- actions which Rand portrays as admirable and virtuous fulfillments of the characters' personal will and desires.
Her early diaries gush with admiration for William Hickman, a serial killer who raped and murdered a young girl. Hickman showed no understanding of "the necessity, meaning or importance of other people," a trait Rand apparently found quite admirable.
  • For good measure, Rand dismissed the feminist movement as "false" and "phony," 
  • denigrated both Arabs and Native Americans as "savages" (going so far as to say the latter had no rights and that Europeans were right to take North American lands by force)
  •  and expressed horror that taxpayer money was being spent on government programs aimed at educating "subnormal children" and helping the handicapped. 

Needless to say, when Rand told Mike Wallace in 1953 that altruism was evil, that selfishness is a virtue, and that anyone who succumbs to weakness or frailty is unworthy of love, she meant it.

PAUL RYAN'S AYN RAND BUDGET

Given that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is the lead architect of the GOP's 2012 budget plan, his own devotion to the ideas of Atlas Shrugged and its author are worth noting. Conservative columnist Ross Douthat has dismissed the connection as Ryan merely saying some "kind words about Ayn Rand," which simply isn't a plausible characterization given what we know:

  1. Ryan was a speaker at the Ayn Rand Centenary Conference in 2005, where he described Social Security as a "collectivist system" and cited Rand as his primary inspiration for entering public service.   
  2. He has at least two videos on his Facebook page in which he heaps praise on the author. "Ayn Rand, more than anyone else, did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism," he says. All of which reflects a rather more serious devotion than a few mere kind words. So it should come as no surprise that Ryan's plan comports almost perfectly with Rand's world view.  
  3. He guts Medicare, Medicaid, and a whole host of housing, food, and educational support programs, leaving the country's middle-class and most vulnerable citizens with far less support.  
  4. Then he uses approximately half of the money freed by those cuts to reduce taxes on the most wealthy Americans. 
  5. By transforming Medicare into a system of vouchers whose value increases at the rate of inflation, he undoes Medicare's most humane feature -- the shouldering of risk at the social level -- and leaves individuals and seniors to shoulder ever greater amounts of risk on their own. 
But if your intellectual and moral lodestar is a woman who railed against altruism as "evil" and considered the small pockets of highly successful individuals to be morally superior, it's a perfectly logical plan to put forward.

More articles
Ayn Rand And Conservatism
Paul Ryan’s Redistributionism
[UPDATED] VIDEO: The Truth About GOP Hero Ayn Rand

The Legendary Paul Ryan

New York Magazine

Mitt who?

The implosion of the Newt Gingrich presidential campaign—the first implosion, before the weird resurrection and inevitable second implosion—came because he used four words: right-wing social engineering. He used the phrase, last May, to describe the Republican budget designed by GOP icon Paul Ryan. It was as if he had urinated on Ronald Reagan’s grave. Party leaders rounded on him. In Iowa, an angry voter cornered him and fumed, in a video captured by Fox News that quickly went viral, “What you did to Paul Ryan was unforgivable … You’re an embarrassment.” Gingrich quickly apologized to Ryan, pledged his fealty to the document, and then, lending his confession an extracted-at-NKVD-gunpoint ­flavor, announced, “Any ad which quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood.” It was no use: Despite years of diligent service, his support among Republicans collapsed, his fellow partisans holding him in the low regard ordinarily reserved for liberals.
Ryan’s rise occurred so rapidly that an old hand like Gingrich hadn’t yet fully grasped the fact that he had become unassailable, though most (and, by now, virtually all) of his fellow Republicans had. Ryan’s prestige explains, among other things, the equanimity with which movement conservatives have reluctantly accepted the heresies of Mitt Romney.  
 They may not have an ideal candidate, but they believe Romney could not challenge Ryan even if he so desired.


Jonathan Chait on 'NOW with Alex Wagner': Paul Ryan the Salesman

“Now, we are truly at an inflection point, between the Barack Obama and Paul Ryan approaches to government,” National Review editor Rich Lowry wrote recently, treating the elevation of the chairman of the House Budget Committee over the presidential nominee as his party’s standard-bearer as so obvious it requires no explanation.
 “We don’t need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go. We want the Ryan budget,” says anti-tax enforcer Grover Norquist. “Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States.” 
@EzraKlein tweets: "Norquist does not expect Mr Romney to lead as President, he just wants him to sign (Paul Ryans) Bill."
In any case, Romney has shown no inclination to challenge Ryan, praising him fulsomely and even promising him, according to The Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes, he’d enact Ryan’s plan in the first 100 days.  
Republicans envision an administration in which Romney has relegated himself to a kind of head-of-state role, at least domestically, with Ryan as the actual head of government.
To find a parallel to the way Ryan has so thoroughly seized control of the Republican agenda and identity, you have to go back at least to Gingrich in his nineties heyday, or possibly to Reagan. Yet Gingrich and Reagan rose to the national scene while cultivating an image as radicals—it was their battle scars, inflicted by the mainstream political Establishment, that lent them the credibility to speak for the conservative base. Ryan, by contrast, has achieved something much stranger: He has ascended to his present position aloft a chorus of acclaim from the corners of the Establishment that once greeted Gingrich and Reagan with loathing. He is the only politician revered as much by the mainstream media as by the tea party. By some measure, he’s the most popular guy in Washington.

The Paul Ryan that has been introduced to America is a figure of cinematic rectitude—a Jimmy Stewart character, but brainier. “Through a combination of hard work, good timing, and possibly suicidal guts,” wrote Time last December, “the Wisconsin Republican managed to harness his party to a dramatic plan for dealing with America’s rapidly rising public debt.” He is America’s neighborhood accountant, a man devoted to the task of restoring our fiscal health, whatever slings and arrows may come his way. Last year, a consortium of nonpartisan anti-deficit groups created a “Fiscy Award” (for “promoting fiscal responsibility and government accountability”) and bestowed one upon Ryan—a laying of hands sanctifying his good standing by the good-government, let’s-all-stop-fighting-and-fix-this crowd.

ABC News actually compared Ryan with Kevin Kline’s character from the 1993 movie Davean endearingly na├»ve Everyman who accidentally finds himself president and does battle with cynical forces to scrub the federal budget of waste. After showing a clip from the film, reporter Jonathan Karl cut to footage of himself in Ryan’s office attempting to re-create the scene. Karl opens a budget tome to a random page and looks on in awe as Ryan explains the dense prose and the savings to be had.

And so here we find a political dilemma for the Democrats. They have decided to make Ryan’s agenda the central issue of the election. There are strong reasons for doing so, namely that most of the policies Ryan champions are disliked by a majority of Americans. But elevating Ryan to right-wing bogeyman—a remake of nineties-era Speaker Gingrich, the man who might personify Republican overreach—has proved difficult. When Obama denounced Ryan’s plan last year, he provoked not just fury from the right but anguished wails from the bipartisan center. Earlier this month, he tried again, assailing the plan as “social Darwinism.” The backlash was even more severe.
As the election takes the form of a great battle over Ryan’s plan, the fight will center on what we’re actually talking about. Obama wants to argue over the Paul Ryan plan itself, a set of policy proposals that would rewrite the nature of the American social compact. But the only way to do so will be to dislodge it from “Paul Ryan”the courageous, reasonable, modest neighborhood accountant. It won’t be easy.

One trope that has marked Ryan’s media coverage from the outset is that he is consistently described as lacking ambition. It’s a sharp contrast with fellow Republican Eric Cantor, to whom the adjective “ambitious” is affixed like a tattoo. Ryan says, and many political reporters believe, that he is immune to the political concerns that distract his colleagues. He “has a level of disdain for the sort of rank political calculations required of people who want to climb the electoral ladder,” explains the Washington Post. Here is a telling description from Politico: “Of the partisan political game, Ryan confessed, ‘It’s not my natural tendency. I’m a policy guy.’ ” The operative word here is “confessed.”

Ryan worked his way up through the Republican Party from the inside. Born into a prominent family in Janesville, Wisconsin, he studied political science and economics at Miami University in Ohio, and set out for Washington. His first job was at Empower America, a think tank housing several veterans of the just-deposed George H. W. Bush administration, including Jack Kemp, for whom Ryan worked as a speechwriter. From there Ryan found a job as a Republican staffer in Congress. In 1998, at the tender age of 28, and with the help of his Washington connections, he won a seat in the House.

With his good looks and base of insider knowledge, Ryan was marked from the outset as a comer. He had to elbow more experienced Republicans out of the way to grab his nomination, and then leapfrog other more experienced Republicans to claim the party’s leadership of the House Budget Committee in 2007. And yet the narrative of Ryan’s career centers around ambitions others have on his behalf—always urging him to jump to the next level, while he modestly demurs. He would not challenge John Boehner for House minority leader, he said in 2008, but was “humbled by the outpouring of support.” (Given the titanic power he has amassed at the mere age of 42, one can only wonder what heights Ryan would have climbed if he actually cared about political gain.)

Ryan won a prime speaking place at the 2004 Republican National Convention, but he began distancing himself from the Bush administration soon thereafter, joining a chorus of conservatives who, by 2006, had begun bemoaning Bush’s alleged abandonment of true conservatism. Two weeks before the 2008 election, he openly sniped at the tactics of the McCain campaign. On Election Night, he gave a long interview on Fox News with Brit Hume, who introduced Ryan as an up-and-coming Republican leader. Ryan told the dismayed audience that “the Republican Party has to go back to its roots.” Three days later, The Wall Street Journal published an editorial, “Ryan for the Republicans,” urging the party to embrace Ryan’s vision and to elevate him over John Boehner as party leader in the House.

The single moment that firmly established Ryan’s control over the GOP came in February 2010.

Obama, reeling from Scott Brown’s victory in a special election that threatened to halt health-care reform, convened a free-floating health-care discussion at the Blair House with leaders from both parties. Republicans feared it was a trap to make them look closed-minded but didn’t dare boycott the proceedings. They tapped Ryan as their debate leader, and, politely but aggressively, he launched a detailed attack on Obama’s bill, describing it as a kind of accounting fraud. Conservatives were ecstatic at the spectacle.
 
With his new found status as Wonk King of the Republicans, Ryan set about persuading his party members to adopt his sweeping manifesto, “The Path to Prosperity.” The House Republican caucus voted almost unanimously for the plan despite knowing full well Obama would veto it. It was an impressive and, given the unpopularity of many of its provisions, almost sadomasochistic display of party unity and ideological fervor. The calculation was that if Republicans could withstand blow back from voters and hold the House in 2012, and win the presidency and Senate too, there could be no question but that they would quickly implement Ryan’s plan. This is how a congressman not even in his party’s leadership had determined the domestic agenda of the next Republican president long before voters had decided who that person would be.
The basic elements of Ryan’s plan are this:
  1. The tax code would be collapsed into two rates, with the top rate dropping to 25 percent, but eliminating unspecified tax deductions would keep tax revenues at the current level, as set by the Bush tax cuts. 
  2. Medicare would remain untouched for those 55 years old and older, but 
    • those under would be given vouchers at a capped rate. 
    • Given that the Medicare savings would not begin to take effect for more than a decade, that 
  • taxes would stay level (at best), and 
  • that military spending would increase, 
Ryan would achieve his short-term deficit reduction by focusing overwhelmingly on programs targeted to the
  • poor (which account for about a fifth of the federal budget, but absorb 62 percent of Ryan’s cuts over the next decade). 
  • The budget repeals Obamacare, thereby uninsuring some 30 million Americans about to become insured. It would then take insurance away from another 14 to 27 million people, by cutting Medicaid and children’s health-insurance funding.
This is not a moderate plan. As Robert Greenstein, a liberal budget analyst, summed up the proposal,
“It would likely produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history.” And yet, Ryan has managed to sell it as something admirable, and something else entirely: a deficit-reduction plan.

This is very clever. The centrist political Establishment, heavily represented among business leaders and the political media, considers it almost self-evident that the budget deficit (and not, say, mass unemployment or climate change) represents the singular policy threat of our time, and that bipartisan cooperation offers the sole avenue to address it. By casting his program as a solution to the debt crisis, by frequently conceding that Republicans as well as Democrats had failed in the past, and by inveighing against “demagoguery,” Ryan has presented himself as the acceptable Republican suitor the moderates had been longing for.

Whether Ryan’s plan even is a “deficit-reduction plan” is highly debatable. Ryan promises to eliminate trillions of dollars’ worth of tax deductions, but won’t identify which ones. He proposes to sharply reduce government spending that isn’t defense, Medicare (for the next decade, anyway), or Social Security, but much of that reduction is unspecified, and when Obama named some possible casualties, Ryan complained that those hypotheticals weren’t necessarily in his plan. Ryan is specific about two policies: massive cuts to income-tax rates, and very large cuts to government programs that aid the poor and medically vulnerable. You could call all this a “deficit-reduction plan,” but it would be more accurate to call it “a plan to cut tax rates and spending on the poor and sick.” Aside from a handful of exasperated commentators, like Paul Krugman, nobody does.

The persistent belief in the existence of an authentic, deficit hawk Ryan not only sweeps aside the ugly particulars of his agenda, it also ignores, well, pretty much everything he has done in his entire career, and pretty much everything he has said until about two years ago.

In 2005, Ryan spoke at a gathering of Ayn Rand enthusiasts, where he declared, “The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.” Ryan has listed Rand’s manifesto, Atlas Shrugged, as one of his three most often reread books, and in 2003, he told The Weekly Standard he tries to make his interns read it. Rand is a useful touchstone to understand Ryan’s public philosophy. She centered libertarian philosophy around a defense of capitalism in general and, in particular, a conception of politics as a class war pitting virtuous producers against parasites who illegitimately use the power of the state to seize their wealth. Ludwig von Mises, whom Ryan has also cited as an influence, once summed up Rand’s philosophy in a letter to her: “You have the courage to tell the masses what no politician told them:
You are inferior and all the improvements in your condition which you simply take for granted you owe to the effort of men who are better than you.” 

Ryan now frequently casts his opposition to Obama in technocratic terms, but he hasn’t always done so. “It is not enough to say that President Obama’s taxes are too big or the health-care plan doesn’t work for this or that policy reason,” Ryan said in 2009.  

  • “It is the morality of what is occurring right now, and how it offends the morality of individuals working toward their own free will 
    • to produce, 
    • to achieve, 
    • to succeed, 
      that is under attack, and it is that what I think Ayn Rand would                       be commenting on.”
  • Ryan’s philosophical opposition to a government that forces the “makers” to subsidize the “takers”—terms he still employs—is foundational; the policy details are secondary.
This recently became a political problem when Catholic bishops denounced his budget, with one singling out “his favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand.” Last week, Ryan told National Review that he is not an Objectivist, which of course he is not. Objectivists adhere to the full spectrum of Rand’s eclectic beliefs. (Ryan: “I reject her philosophy. It is an atheist philosophy.”) But the thrust of the liberal Catholic critique didn’t center on Rand’s atheism. Where Rand has gained a following among mainstream conservatives like Ryan is her vision of capitalism and class.

Like many Rand devotees, Ryan gravitated to the supply-side-economics wing of the Republican Party, which furnished an economic rationale for policies to which they were already morally sympathetic. The supply-siders remade the Republican Party, replacing its traditional emphasis on balanced budgets with a relentless obsession with cutting tax rates, especially for the most affluent. Reducing taxes, they believed, could unleash untold prosperity; some, like Ryan’s mentor Jack Kemp, even considered spending constraints utterly unnecessary. “I learned economics working for Jack Kemp,” Ryan said in 1999.

Ryan has, retroactively, depicted himself as a dissenter from the fiscal profligacy of the Bush administration, and reporters have mostly accepted his account at face value. (“Ryan watched his party’s leadership inflate the deficit by cutting tax rates like Kemp conservatives while spending like Kardashians,” wrote Time last year.) In reality, Ryan was a staunch ally in Bush’s profligacy, dissenting only to urge Bush to jack up the deficit even more.

“We noticed that the green-eyeshade, austerity wing of the party was afraid of class warfare,” Ryan said during Bush’s first term. “They fear increases in the debt, and they were overlooking issues of growth, opportunity, and free markets.” For those uninitiated in the tribal lingo of Beltway conservatives, this may sound like gibberish. But those inside the conservative subculture invest these buzzwords with deep meaning. “Green eyeshade” is a term of abuse appropriated by the supply-siders to describe Republicans who still cared more about deficit control than cutting taxes. “Growth” and “opportunity” mean tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the rich, and “class warfare” means any criticism thereof. Ryan’s centrist admirers hear his frequent confessions that both parties have failed as an ideological concession. What he means is that Republicans were insufficiently fanatical in their devotion to cutting taxes for the rich.
 

  1. In 2001, Ryan led a coterie of conservatives who complained that George W. Bush’s $1.2 trillion tax cut was too small, and too focused on the middle class
  2. In 2003, he lobbied Republicans to pass Bush’s deficit-­financed prescription-drug benefit, which bestowed huge profits on the pharmaceutical and insurance industries
  3. In 2005, when Bush campaigned to introduce private accounts into Social Security, Ryan fervently crusaded for the concept. He was the sponsor in the House of a bill to create new private accounts funded entirely by borrowing, with no benefit cuts
Ryan’s plan was so staggeringly profligate, entailing more than $2 trillion in new debt over the first decade alone, that even the Bush administration opposed it as “irresponsible.”
  1. When Democrats took control of Congress in the 2006 elections, they reimposed a budget rule requiring that any new spending or tax cuts be offset by new revenue or spending cuts. Ryan opposed it, preferring to let new spending or tax cuts go on the national credit card. Instead, he continued to endorse Bush’s line that tax cuts were leading us to a glorious new era of prosperity and budget balance.
  2. “Higher revenues flowing into the Treasury, as a result of economic and job growth, have given us a real chance to balance the budget,” Ryan announced in 2007.  
  3. “The president’s budget achieves the important goal of balancing the budget in the near term—without raising taxes,” he wrote in August 2008.
 Since Obama took office, Ryan has changed his position on the value of economic stimulus. 
In 2001, and again in February 2008, he (along with nearly everybody in both parties) endorsed temporary tax cuts in the face of economic downturns. 
He has since embraced hoary, previously obscure Austrian economic doctrines that warn against putting too much money back in the pockets of citizens suffering through a recession.

Yet Ryan has not altered his opposition to green-eyeshade fiscal conservatism.
In 2010, Ryan was a member of a bipartisan committee, chaired by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, to formulate a plan to reduce the deficit, but voted against it. (The plan included a tax increase.)
Last year(2011), another, informal bipartisan collection of senators released an agreement for a wide-ranging plan to reduce the deficit, combining lower spending with a tax-reform plan designed to increase revenue(taxes). It seemed to be gaining momentum quickly until Ryan attacked it, thus dropping what a Republican Senate aide called a “bomb” that blew apart Republican support for the plan.
In fact, with the possible exception of anti-tax activist/Bond villain Grover Norquist, nobody has done more in recent years to prevent the passage of a bipartisan debt agreement than Paul Ryan. 

And yet, incredibly, Ryan has managed to position himself as the nation’s foremost spokesman for the cause of bipartisan deficit reduction.
Possibly his favorite accusation against Obama, one he repeats day after day, is that he failed to openly endorse the Bowles-Simpson plan. 

Thus Ryan regularly holds forth on this subject in a way that seems genuine and even admirable to his audiences but, to anybody who happens to recall his actual role in these events, utterly surreal:
RYAN: President Obama, through an executive order, created his own commission to solve this plan.

Q: You were on it.
RYAN: I was on the commission. And you know what he did? He didn’t accept—he didn’t take one of the big recommendations of the commission, he basically disavowed the commission. And now, after the commission said we have an economic ruin on our hands, he put out a budget that Erskine Bowles, the Democrat-appointed chairman of the commission, says doesn’t go anywhere near where we have to go to solve our fiscal nightmare.

Q: So, do you think the commission was worth having?
RYAN: I thought it was great worth having [sic]. I thought it advanced an adult conversation that we needed to have. But the president just took us a few steps backward by ignoring the commission’s findings, by ignoring its conclusions.

How has Ryan managed to occupy these two roles in our national lifeFiscy award-winning spokesman for those Americans demanding a bipartisan agreement to reduce the deficit, and slayer of bipartisan deficit agreementssimultaneously? Here is where, in the place of any credible programmatic commitment, he substitutes his remarkable talent for radiating good intentions. New York Times business columnist James Stewart, for instance, recently opined that Ryan’s plan would usher in an overhaul of the tax code that would raise taxes on the rich, by eliminating special treatment for capital-gains income.
It is certainly true, as Stewart argues, that one could reduce tax rates to the levels advocated by Ryan without shifting the burden onto the poor and middle class if you eliminated the lower rate enjoyed by capital-gains income. But Ryan has been crystal clear throughout his career in his opposition to raising capital-gains taxes. An earlier, more explicit version of his tax plan eliminated any tax at all on capital gains. The current version, while refraining from specifics, insists, “Raising taxes on capital is another idea that purports to affect the wealthy but actually hurts all participants in the economy.” I asked Stewart why he believed so strongly that Ryan actually supported such a reform, despite the explicit opposition of his budget. “Maybe he’s being boxed in” by right-wing colleagues, Stewart suggested.

After Obama assailed Ryan’s budget, Stewart wrote a second column insisting that Ryan’s plans were just the sort of goals liberals shared. He quoted Ryan as writing, in his manifesto, “The social safety net is failing society’s most vulnerable citizens.” Stewart is flabbergasted that Democrats could be so partisan as to attack a figure who believes something so uncontroversial. “Does anyone,” Stewart wrote in his follow-up, “Democrat or Republican, seriously disagree?”

The disagreement, I suggested to Stewart, is that Ryan believes the social safety net is failing society’s most vulnerable citizens by spending too much money on them. As Ryan has said, “We don’t want to turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency”—which is to say, plying the poor with such inducements as food stamps and health insurance for their children has sapped their desire to achieve, a problem Ryan proposes to solve by targeting them for the lion’s share of deficit reduction. Stewart waves away the distinction. “I was pointing out that, at least rhetorically, you can find some common ground,” he says. Stewart, explaining his evaluation of Ryan to me, repeatedly cited the missing details in his plan as a hopeful sign of Ryan’s accommodating aims. “He seems very straightforward,” he tells me. “He doesn’t seem cunning. He seems very genuine.”

Seeming genuine is something Ryan does extraordinarily well. And here is where something deeper is at play, more than Ryan’s charm and winning personality, something that gets at the intellectual bankruptcy of contemporary Washington. The Ryan brand is rooted in his ostentatious wonkery. Because, unlike the Bushes and the Palins, he grounds his position in facts and figures, he seems like an encouraging candidate to strike a bargain. But the thing to keep in mind about Ryan is that he was trained in the world of Washington Republican think tanks. These were created out of a belief that mainstream economists were hopelessly biased to the left, and crafted an alternative intellectual ecosystem in which conservative beliefs—the planet is not getting warmer, the economy is not growing more unequal—can flourish, undisturbed by skepticism. Ryan is intimately versed in the blend of fact, pseudo-fact, and pure imagination inhabiting this realm.
For instance, he consistently describes Obama’s plan to control health-care costs as “a panel of unelected bureaucrats” making unaccountable decisions. In fact, Obama­care involves a wide array of incentives and reforms;health-care-cost inflation has already slowed, and an important article in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested Obamacare’s reforms deserve some credit. Ryan shows no sign of grappling with these facts or even acknowledging they exist. Likewise, at his star turn at Blair House, where he assailed the allegedly phony numbers in Obamacare, Ryan held up as his most damning piece of evidence the fact that the bill used something called “the doc fix” for its savings. Ryan was confused (or else making things up). He was referring to a payment glitch from a 1997 Republican-authored Medicare law, one that had no relation to any of the cost savings in Obamacare.

Ryan’s mastery of these details does not signify openness to evidence or a willingness to shape his views to real-world evidence. It actually signifies the opposite. And yet Ryan has grasped that the aura of specificity he has cultivated paradoxically renders the specifics themselves irrelevant.

For a virtuoso display of this principle in action, return to another vintage Ryan moment: his Dave profile from last year, where he awed a swooning reporter by opening up the budget to a random page and fingered a boondoggle. The item Ryan pointed to was the Obama administration’s reform of the student-loan industry. “Direct loans—this is perfect,” Ryan said. “So direct loans, that’s new spending on autopilot, that had no congressional oversight, and it gave the illusion that they were cutting spending.”

The exchange is so perversely revealing that it rewards explanation. For decades, the government helped make college more affordable through “guaranteed loans”—it encouraged banks to lend money to students by promising to repay the banks if the students defaulted. Banks were making billions of dollars in profits at virtually no risk.  

The General Accounting Office, a kind of in-house fiscal watchdog for the federal government, issued sixteen reports over the years noting how the government could save money simply by issuing the loans itself and cutting out the middleman.

It was the simplest, no-brainer pot of savings you could find—ending pure corporate welfare, just like in the movie Dave. The cause attracted support from think tanks, as well as the moderate Wisconsin Republican Tom Petri, an eclectic reformer who is sort of the real-life version of the Paul Ryan character who appears on television. Two National Review editors endorsed eliminating guaranteed loans in an article advocating a new reform conservatism. The banks lobbied fiercely to protect their gravy train. Among the staunchest advocates of those government-subsidized banks was … Paul Ryan, who fought to protect bank subsidies that many of his fellow Republicans deemed too outrageous to defend. In 2009, Obama finally eliminated the guaranteed-lending racket. It could save the government an estimated $62 billion, according to the CBO.

Not everything in Ryan’s career, and possibly nothing at all, is quite so undeniably venal. You could pluck any other single example out of Ryan’s long history of strident conservatism and he would be able to defend it, at the very least, on ideological grounds. A tax cut for the rich, a hike in military spending—all those could be explained as a blow for the cause of Reaganism. This was an almost astonishingly unlucky break, an instance where he lacked even ideological cover—standing up for higher spending at the behest of a powerful lobby lacking any plausible rationale for its subsidy.

At the moment the page opened to that unfortunate item, Ryan’s heart must have stopped. Here was a reporter trying to cast him as a movie-hero outsider, and he was performing on cue. Yet the book opened to a page that, cruelly, just happened to expose the gap between Ryan’s image and the reality more clearly than anything else possibly could have.

Ryan probably knew, even in that split second, that he stood little chance of exposure. (The overlap between television news reporters and people with a detailed understanding of the federal budget is quite small.) Yet a lesser politician might have panicked, or hesitated, or possibly tried to flip to a different page. In that moment, Ryan revealed the qualities that have propelled him to his current position. As cool as can be, and as winsome as ever, he said, “This is perfect.”

Protesters hit streets for May Day rallies; violence flares in Oakland, Seattle




As the Occupy Wall Street movement comes out of hibernation, a day of protests are planned around the nation. MSNBC's Richard Lui reports.


Updated at 03:38 A.M. ET: Protesters across the world marched through the streets Tuesday toting signs, playing instruments and wearing costumes to rally against austerity measures, call for more jobs and seek greater immigrants' rights on May Day.

Marches turned violent in Oakland and San Francisco, where a protester was throwing what appeared to be bricks and metal rods from the roof of a building into the crowd of demonstrators, reporters, and police - injuring at least one person, according to NBC Bay Area.

In Seattle, protesters dressed in black smashed windows and police pepper-sprayed some in the crowds.

In the United States, the protests are seen as the biggest test for the Occupy movement since many of its camps were shuttered late last year. Occupiers in more than 100 cities across the country were expected to protest on the day that traditionally celebrates workers’ rights.

In New York, demonstrators held a “free university,” and a “guitar-my” led a march.

“It was a long, energetic day with scores and scores of events and protests that is another step in building a movement for economic justice,” said Bill Dobbs of the Occupy Wall Street public relations team. “Occupy has re-blossomed in over 100 cities."

Occupy Cleveland cancels protest, distances itself from alleged bomb plot

Earlier Tuesday, about 1,000 Occupy protesters gathered in New York's Bryant Park, home to the main city library, with hundreds assembling the “guitar-my” and making posters before they left to march downtown. Chanting "Out of the stores, into the streets" and "Banks got bailed out; we got sold out," they filed down Manhattan’s iconic Fifth Avenue.

“There's too much fear for the general public to actually want to strike. They don’t want to lose their job. ... We haven’t reached that tipping point where people are more frightened for some place to live." 

"It will get to the tipping point but right now we're just practicing." said Robby McGeddon, 47, a tech worker carrying a maypole for May Day.


Miranda Leitsinger / msnbc.com

A protester representing the Musicians Union in New York's Union Square calls for eliminating "sour notes."


Of the protest, Daphne Carr, 33, co-organizer of the Occupy Music Working Group, said: “We're trying to find new, positive community-building ways to engage and protest and be a part of the burgeoning civil dialogue about what this country should be doing."

She also noted that music making "has been eroded from our public sphere so we're taking and re-claiming the right to play music publicly together in the streets, in the parks, without permits.”

The crowd swelled to a few thousand later in the day in Union Square as immigrant rights groups and unions representing teachers, transport workers, nurses, musicians as wells as others joined in a lively afternoon of art and music.

But the day was not without its detractors: at least one man heckled protesters and another yelled “Get a job!” as he elbowed his way through the crowd.

That didn’t get the protesters’ spirits down.

"This is like the resurgence of the Occupy Wall Street movement," said photographer Joel Simpson, 65, of Union, N.J., as the "guitar-my" sang "This land is your land" nearby.

Though most of New York City didn't know the May Day protest was going on, he said, the movement "touches public consciousness in a very broad way and politicians have to at least pay lip service to it."

The New York protesters then streamed downtown, in an early evening march heading past the former Occupy Wall Street home, Zuccotti Park, to Bowling Green park near the southern tip of Manhattan. Occupy sent out a text message saying 30,000 people were in the streets, though it was not possible to determine how many were and police do not give crowd estimates. At one point, the protest appeared to stretch about 15 city blocks.

“We’re not so fragile that a day is going to make or break things but this was you know, a great … step,” Dobbs said, noting that the “organizing that goes on day-to-day and week-to-week is just as important in building a long-term sustainable movement.

New York police reported 15 arrests by late afternoon for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, the New York Daily News reported. Several demonstrators were caught carrying hammers but there was little vandalism, police said. Later Tuesday, Occupy said more arrests had been made.

Elsewhere:


Oakland police and May Day protesters face off. Watch video courtesy of KNTV.



San Francisco: Police armed with non-lethal pellet or bean bag guns aimed them at a protester who was throwing objects from the roof of the building,  located at 888 Turk St, according to NBC Bay AreaThe protester, dressed in black with a handkerchief covering his  face, was throwing what appeared to be bricks and metal rods into the crowd  of demonstrators, reporters, and police. Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Andraychak told NBC News the individual threw several items off the roof for several minutes, including two bricks and pipes. One brick struck a person and hit them in the head. The injured person refused treatment from medical personnel. NBC News reported that the rooftop protester was arrested and taken into custody.

Oakland, Calif.: Protesters playing cat-and-mouse with police pounded on windows of banks and other businesses, SFGate.com reported. After surrounding a downtown Bank of America branch, protesters chanted, "Oakland is the people's town; strike, occupy, shut it down." they also gathered at a Wells Fargo bank branch. Police later confronted demonstrators marching through downtown. Video by NBCBayArea.com showed at least one protester being dragged away by police. Protesters hurled items including a paint bomb at police and windows out of a police van, NBCBayArea.com reported. Police fired tear gas and flash-bang grenades before the skirmishing crowd dispersed. Police arrested at least four people.


Jim Seida / msnbc.com

Police tape off a Wells Fargo Bank in Seattle Tuesday after protesters broke the banks windows during a May Day march.

Seattle: Windows were broken and police arrested a handful of protesters as about 100 marched in downtown, NBC station KING reported. Many marchers were dressed in dark clothes, wearing face makeup and carrying sticks, live TV video showed. Police pepper-sprayed several protesters as problems developed. KING reported numerous tires slashed and large amounts of glass on the ground from vehicles and buildings, including the federal courthouse, smashed by protesters. Peaceful protesters remained at the downtown Westlake Plaza, where speeches and concerts continued, KING reported.



John Brecher / msnbc.com

Trumpeter Opaulo Mekkelsen marched with the Movitas Marching Band in Seattle. He said he was motivated by immigrants' rights.

"Part of me, I want to understand where they're coming from and then they pull something like this," said Sam, who would not give his last name, as he saw the back window of his car smashed out by protesters. Sam was on holiday from his home in British Columbia. "I'm from Canada," he said, "imagine the impression this gives me of the United States."

At an afternoon press conference, Mayor Mike McGinn said a group known as the “Black Block” did extensive damage to the Federal Courthouse, then moved on to block traffic. The mayor signed a proclamation authorizing police to seize from protesters any items that could be used as weapons, KING reported. Evening marches and protests were planned.


A group of May Day protesters dressed in black clothes and wearing face makeup smashed windows in downtown Seattle. Video courtesy KING.


Photoblog: May Day protests turn violent in Seattle

San Francisco: Golden Gate ferry workers picketed ferry terminals in the North Bay, but union organizers canceled a protest on the Golden Gate Bridge to give support to the ferry workers, the Oakland Tribune reported. However, scores of California Highway Patrol officers with helmets and batons lined the bridge and gathered around the toll plaza just in case. Bridge traffic was not disrupted.

Albany, N.Y.: State police arrested two men who set up a table without a permit in Lafayette Park, where Occupy protesters assembled Tuesday, the Times Union newspaper reported.


Jim Seida / msnbc.com

Sam (who declined to give his last name), left, speaks to local media after protesters in a May Day march in downtown Seattle smashed out the rear window of his car on 6th Avenue. "Part of me, I want to understand where they're coming from and then they pull something like this," he said. Sam was on holiday from his home in British Columbia, Canada. "I'm from Canada," he said, "Imagine the impression this gives me of the United States."

Chicago: Protesters and union supporters held rallies and marches with little disruption to the business district, the Chicago Tribune reported. Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy told the newspaper there were no arrests among the crowd of 1,000 as rallies wrapped up at Federal Plaza.

Denver: Nearly 200 people marched downtown before turning onto the 16th Street pedestrian mall, blocking mall buses and traffic as they walked. The marchers also stopped in front of the Federal Reserve Bank. Police did not interfere, and only one person reportedly was arrested.

Los Angeles: Several demonstrators were taken into custody during a protest on Century Boulevard near the entrance to Los Angeles International Airport as union members, workers, immigrant-rights activists and others demonstrated for better-paying jobs to changes in immigration laws, NBCLosAngeles.com reported. However, about 2,000 police officers prepared to deploy early at a staging area in Elysian Park before  ralliers were to converge downtown Tuesday evening. Los Angeles County activated its Emergency Operations Center.
Dorian Warren, an assistant professor of political science at Columbia University, said he thought Tuesday would be the “biggest test since the fall of where Occupy is.”

Occupy activists fear becoming Democrats' 'pet'

“I think it’s still alive and thriving. I don’t think it’s going anywhere soon,” he said. “But I think after [Tuesday] we’ll know whether or not they were hibernating all winter and now they’ve re-emerged, or if they’ve died out.”

Occupy held protests during the spring on student debt and worker rights. They also have been working on a rollout of new versions of outreach web sites to facilitate coordination among different Occupy outfits. But a lot of effort has been focused on holding a May Day that will make a splash.

“Many activists have been working toward May Day for months and so they’ve decided to make it a test of strength,” said Todd Gitlin, a former leader of the 1960s-era group Students for a Democratic Society who has just published a book on Occupy. He added: “A lot of people in the larger society don’t think the movement still exists, so there’s some need to prove to them that it does exist.”

Occupy Wall Street has struggled during the last months without a camp, with some members starting their own groups while keeping a loose affiliation to the movement.

“It’s become fractured over time and I think people point a lot to that to the breakup of Zuccotti Park, and the natural disagreements that people had came more to the fore when people were separated and people formed their own circles upon which they continued. But it wasn’t the circle of great diversity that was right there at Zuccotti Park and people could grow from,” said William Johnsen, a 63-year-old veteran activist from Staten Island, N.Y. “It’s obviously a long-term process right now which will ultimately change into something else.”

Lefteris Pitarakis / AP

Workers and activists rally on May Day.

But Konrad Cukla, a 23-year-old graduate student who has been helping with Occupy May Day planning, said that since the park shut, occupiers have been engaging in key coalition building work, such as with immigrant rights groups in the city.

“All the labor unions have come together and for the first time are going to have a unified march with immigrant rights groups and Occupy,” he said as he walked with a musical band of occupiers -- the Rude Mechanical Orchestra -- dressed in green and black on Manhattan’s 5th Avenue. “I think the movement is evolving, it's taking on more concrete allies and issues, engaging more with labor struggles -- also just expanding its horizons and bringing more people into the movement."


Rain City Superheroes: Midnight Jack, left, El Caballero, center, and Phoenix Jones relax Tuesday at a downtown Seattle Starbucks.

The Associated Press and msnbc.com's Jim Gold contributed to this report. Follow Jim Gold at msnbc.com on Facebook here.

'Battle for the soul of Occupy': Activists fear being 'pulled to the right,' becoming Democratic 'pet'






Occupy Wall Street protesters are planning coast-to-coast demonstrations Tuesday in honor of "May Day" or International Workers' Day. The protesters are calling for a general strike and are encouraging workers to stay home. The Morning Joe panel discusses.

As Occupy protesters hit the streets for a nationwide general strike on Tuesday, some in the movement fear the emergence of two new activist outfits made up of "old left" advocacy groups and unions is an attempt to turn them into a "pet" for the Democratic Party and President Obama’s reelection effort.
The new groups, 99% Power and 99% Spring, include backers such as MoveOn.org, Rebuild The Dream, AFL-CIO, United Auto Workers, CODEPINK: Women for Peace, and The Ruckus Society. The groups bring money with them – something in short supply for Occupy – but their efforts are being eyed warily by those who helped launch the Occupy movement.

Adbusters, the Canadian magazine that made the initial call for people to Occupy Wall Street on Sept. 17 of last year, has been running a blog series on their website, "Battle for the Soul of Occupy," in the last few weeks. In it, the publication has decried attempts to "neutralize our insurgency with an insidious campaign of donor money and co-optation."

"This counter-strategy worked to kill off the Tea Party’s outrage and turn it into a puppet of the Republican Party. Will the same happen with Occupy Wall Street? Will our insurgency turn into the Democrats’ Tea Party pet?" Adbusters wrote in an April 12 post. "Will you allow Occupy to become a project of the old left, the same cabal of old world thinkers who have blunted the possibility of revolution for decades? Will you allow MoveOn, The Nation and Ben & Jerry to put the brakes on our Spring Offensive and turn our struggle into a ‘99% Spring’ reelection campaign for President Obama?"

Skepticism of electoral politics runs deep in the Occupy movement and it could affect the ability of Democrats to mobilize activists during the 2012 campaign, despite attempts to appropriate the "99 percent" rhetoric. But Todd Gitlin, a former leader of the 1960s group, Students for a Democratic Society, who has just published a book on Occupy, believes the concerns of some in the movement are "outlandish."

Protesters hit the streets for May Day rallies

"It was inevitable that there would arise political actors that want those same reforms, although they don’t necessarily share the real-time spirit of the movement. These are the membership organizations, like the unions and MoveOn … who did turn out for the big marches in October and November, and who are numerically very large but were always from the beginning being met with suspicion on the part of the Occupy movement," said Gitlin, a professor of sociology and journalism at Columbia University.

"This represents actually a misunderstanding on the part of some of the Occupy people who feel weak, so they’re afraid of co-optation because they feel that the co-opters have the power to puncture their balloon," he added.

Still, the new groups don’t sit well with Charles M. Young, a writer at thiscantbehappening.net and a 1960s-era activist. He attended one of the mid-April training sessions held by The 99% Spring on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, which he said was led by representatives of the Democratic Party and Wall Street lawyers, and where Obama buttons were offered for sale.



Up host Chris Hayes leads the conversation on civil disobedience in light of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the groups that are emerging to teach protesters non-violent demonstration tactics.


Young, 61, feared that Occupy could be "pulled to the right" by partnering up with them and felt the effort was part of a bid to keep the "Kucinich Democrats" from leaving.
"It looks very much like what they call an AstroTurf movement, you know, something from the top down," he said, noting he left the meeting "disillusioned." "I don’t remember anybody saying that there was a need for the 99% Spring before it came out."

"It does seem to be mostly the Democratic Party trying to keep the left in line for Obama and keeping things obedient, and that’s just not enough given the issues involved," he added.
In an email statement, Justin Ruben, MoveOn's executive director, said his group has electoral goals, but that his organization has "zero interest in trying to alter [Occupy] in any way."

"Growing economic inequality and the increasing influence of 1 percent cash in our political system are huge problems, and problems that MoveOn members care deeply about. Our response includes working to engage more activists in the fight for fairness for the 99 percent and to introduce activists to powerful tactics like non-violent direct action. That's what the 99% Spring is about," he said.

"Regarding elections, yes, there's no question that MoveOn sees elections as profoundly important, and we will be engaged in elections this year -- just as we've engaged in elections since our inception in 1998. But of course we work with lots of allies that don't engage in elections, and we respect that choice," he added.

Dorian Warren, an assistant professor of political science at Columbia University, said schisms on the left today are similar to those during the civil rights movements. There were "intense fights between the old guard" groups like the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the youth-led Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, he said. In hindsight, the youth-led group played an important role, serving as "the left flank of the movement," he said. "That’s sort of the role Occupy is playing."

But Occupy should be skeptical and challenge the progressive establishment, he said. "Until September, the strategies of these groups, whether it was ‘inside the Beltway’ game or just traditional interest group politics, that was not working, and so the more radical tactics that Occupy innovated is what shifted the political terrain and they should stay focused on doing that."

The 99% Spring and 99% Power have given a nod to Occupy for leading the way, though they also said they had been drafting plans to engage in more public protest and focus on corporate accountability before Occupy existed. They had targeted the fall for their campaign, but then Occupy took off, which in turn helped them convince others of the viability of their own strategy, said George Goehl, executive director of National People’s Action.

Occupy reinvented: '99 percent' protesters target General Electric

"It opened up some space for some of the things that we’ve been working on for a long time, and it was really just kind of liberating … in terms of what was possible and also in terms of kind of confirming what we thought," he said.

Goehl said members of Occupy have joined his group’s trainings – or led them – and some consider themselves as part of 99% Power. He said when he was in Des Moines last week at a protest, three of the 12 people arrested were from Occupy.

"I think what we’re seeing is … a growing number of threads that do speak to the need to be fearless truth tellers around what’s truly going on in this country to both engage in nonviolent direct action and to challenge the dominance of the corporate sector both, you know, in our economy and in our politics," he said. "And I think that, you know, Occupy is a thread of that, 99% Spring is a thread of that, 99% Power … it’s all part of the same thing."

He said that the notion that any electoral objectives were part of their strategy was "completely false."

"The organizations that actually started this idea don’t really run big electoral programs. It’s not been that kind of the focus in terms of strategies and tactics," he added.
In the end, Warren, the politics professor, said he thought there could be "too much focus on who’s co-opting Occupy versus Occupy just doing its work."

Success during big events like Tuesday’s May Day actions will actually depend on how many people that the unions, MoveOn and other groups turn out, Warren said. "In that sense, Occupy’s fate is linked to these other groups and these others groups’ fates are linked to Occupy."