- Text smaller
- Text bigger
A labor union with strong ties to President Obama is paying for Occupy’s Washington, D.C., office space inside a thinktank that also is heavily tied to the White House.
Both the thinktank and the union are closely associated with Occupy.
The Service Employees International Union is forking over $4,000 per month for three offices inside the Institute for Policy Studies, or IPS thinktank, whose headquarters are a short distance from the tent city Occupy set up in McPherson Square in Washington in October.
The information was confirmed by IPS director John Cavanagh in an article by Abrey Whelan of the Washington Examiner, who first reported yesterday on the origins of Occupy’s rental bill.
The link may serve as further evidence that Stephen Lerner, a controversial anti-capitalist SEIU organizer, is one of the main forces behind Occupy.
WND was first to identify the economic-protest templates being used by Occupy, including the concept of the tent city, as the brainchild of Lerner.
Lerner in March 2011 laid out a mass economic protest plan intended to bring down the stock market while boasting his plan could be used to cause a new financial crisis. Lerner’s ideology and statements prompted some conservative critics to go so far as to label him an economic terrorist.
The SEIU is closely tied to Obama and the White House. The union’s former president, Andy Stern, was the most frequent visitor to the White House in 2009, according to visitor logs. The SEIU organized campaigns to elect Obama in 2008 and contributed millions of dollars to his election fund.
Scores of SEIU members served on the advisory board to Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.
In November 2011, the SEIU gave Obama an early endorsement, with the union’s president, Mary Kay Henry, pledging to spend the next year focusing on get-out-the-vote efforts for the president.
In her official endorsement, Henry borrowed some of the language of the Occupy movement to explain why the SEIU is supporting Obama.
“We believe as Americans we face a stark choice,” Henry said in a call with reporters. “Do we want leaders who side with rich corporations and the 1 percent … or do we want leaders who side with the rest of us, the 99 percent, who will fight to build a strong middle class?”
The IPS itself, meanwhile, is closely tied with both the White House and Occupy.
The IPS routinely pens joint research and policy papers with the Center for American Progress, which has been described by Time magazine as the White House’s “idea factory.” The Center is led by John Podesta, who co-directed Obama’s transition into the White House.
The IPS and Podesta’s Center, for example, put out a joint annual major policy paper, entitled the “Report of the Task Force on a Unified Security Budget for the United States,” with some of the specific recommendations for the U.S. military being utilized by the Obama administration.
The IPS is well known for its pro-Soviet stance during the Cold War as well as for its longstanding ambition to entirely abolish the U.S. nuclear arsenal. It was even once accused by the FBI of allowing its offices to be utilized by Soviet agents from the nearby Soviet embassy.
WND has found the IPS movement is deeply associated with Occupy.
IPS has been leading teach-ins at Occupy events nationwide, including one in February in Georgetown and another at an Occupy event outside Trinity College.
The thinktank was an endorser of the Occupy AIPAC this past March, even leading a teach-in at the event that protested the pro-Israel lobby.
‘Economic terrorist’ brains of Occupy plot?
Occupy earlier this month stepped up its protest goals, with May Day events aimed at “shutting down” the U.S. economy.
The plans to shut down the U.S. economy are reminiscent of plans first hatched in March 2010 by Lerner, a controversial anti-capitalist SEIU organizer. Lerner visited the Obama White House at least four times.
Writing in the Washington Post last September, columnist Harold Meyerson, vice-chairman of Democratic Socialists of America, quoted Lerner describing how a coalition was fomenting the current economic protests.
Lerner described himself as part of the coalition, referring to the organizations behind the demonstrations as “we.”
Lerner told Meyerson: “It’s a confluence of planned and unplanned demonstrations. … We build on each other. We go ping-ponging back and forth.”
In an interview about the Wall Street protests, Lerner outlined his goals: “How do we bring down the stock market? How do we bring down their bonuses? How do we interfere with their ability to, to be rich?”
In an op-ed titled “This can be our moment,” published in the radical In These Times magazine, Lerner calls on followers to “go on offense” and “make Wall Street pay for the trillions it stole from us.”
Lerner outlined his campaign to “stoke simmering discontent into concrete, concerted direct action to challenge corporate extremism.”
Lerner’s campaign was intended to sow “the seeds of a movement that turns the tables on [Wall Street].”
TheBlaze.com first posted a video of Lerner addressing a conference in which he stated the aim of such an economic campaign would be, among other things, to “bring down the stock market.”
“There are actually extraordinary things we could do right now to start to destabilize the folks that are in power and start to rebuild a movement,” Lerner said.
During the presentation, Lerner called for a mass strike by mortgage payers that, he said, could cause a new financial crisis.
“And so the question would be, what would happen if we organized homeowners en masse to do a mortgage strike. Just say if we get, and, and, if we get half a million people to agree, we’ll all not, we’ll agree we won’t pay our mortgages, it would literally cause a new financial crisis,” he said.
Lerner’s plan had him dubbed an “economic terrorist” in headlines by TheBlaze.com and by writers for American Thinker and a multitude of blogs. TheBlaze.com owner Glenn Beck used the “economic terrorist” label for Lerner, as well.
With research by Brenda J. Elliott