Americans United For Change is a powerful movement bringing together independent voices for new policy priorities and real leadership - to focus our elected officials on the issues that really matter to the lives of everyday Americans and get America moving in the right direction again.
Americans United For Change is building on a foundation of success laid over the past two years. In 2005, Americans United For Change was founded to fend off President Bush's top policy priority at the time: privatizing Social Security. Americans United For Change beat back President Bush, his allies in Congress and the special interests who sought to break the solemn promise America made to its senior citizens by dismantling Social Security with an expensive and risky privatization scheme. In 2006, Americans United For Change broadened its scope to build broad public and congressional support for action on a wide range of long-stalled policy issues.
The First to use "Stay the Course"
This year, while President Bush was campaigning in favor of his Iraq policy on a message of "Stay the Course," Americans United For Change ran the first "Stay the Course" ad of 2006 challenging Bush's approach on Iraq, college loans and gas prices. In October we ran the same ad in key regions (Northern Virginia, Buffalo, New York and Rochester, Minnesota) with healthcare as part of the message.
As the year winds down, it is clear that Americans United For Change has had a major impact on the national dialogue. In January, we began our campaign on the message of change and a new direction for America. Ultimately we created the national issue of 2006 as we challenged the Bush Administration's "Stay the Course" policies on issues from the war in Iraq, failure to increase the minimum wage and drastic cuts in student loans. Our challenge against their "Stay the Course" message became a mantra in many races around the country. If there was one overriding national issue this year, it was "it's time for a change"... a message first heard in Americans United For Change's commercial on the corruption in Congress back in January.
Out of the Gate: Corruption
In January, Americans United For Change ran the first national ad of 2006 on political corruption and the Jack Abramoff scandal calling for the lobbying and congressional reforms included in the Honest Leadership Act - reforms which are now more likely to be enacted after the election. While President Bush and the governing majority in Congress, which was benefiting from the status quo at the time, refused to pass meaningful reform to clean up its act, the issue of corruption highlighted by Americans United For Change took root and the voters went to the polls and took their own action to clean up Washington.
Part D: Educating the Public, Challenging George Bush and Eliminating the Donut Hole
Throughout 2006 we made significant efforts to educate the public about the costly, confusing and corrupt nature of the Part D prescription drug plan and fixes needed to make it simple, affordable and guaranteed. Americans United For Change performed as many as 200 events on Part D- targeting members of Congress in 23 states across the country and challenging them to fix Part D to put seniors first, not drug companies. These events in key states and congressional districts ranged from empty pill bottle deliveries to Member's offices to releasing reports on the corruption involved in the bill's creation. Each of these events called on target Members to support the changes needed to fix Part D.
As President Bush traveled the country promoting Part D, Americans United For Change held rapid response events which demonstrated the confusing, costly and corrupt program. Our extensive organizing campaign at senior and community centers in targeted states led to dozens of letters to the editor as well as op-ed and interviews of Medicare beneficiaries. This resulted in a slew of local and national articles on Part D and the Donut Hole. Additionally, in the lead up to Donut Hole day, we produced several home videos and uploaded them onto YouTube using humor and the power of the Internet to bring attention to the need to fix Part D.
Social Security: The Privatization Fight Re Dux
President Bush and his allies in Congress increasingly signaled their intention to renew their effort to privatize Social Security. As a result, Americans United For Change re-engaged in the fight to beat back the President's risky privatization scheme to once and for all. Americans United For Change returned to the high pressure, high intensity and high visibility press events it used to beat back the President's privatization effort in 2005.
Minimum Wage: Increasing the federal minimum wage and supporting state ballot initiatives
While Republicans in Congress doomed legislation in July that would have increased the minimum wage by attaching it to a repeal of the estate tax, Americans United for Change joined Congressional Members in calling for a clean bill to increase the federal minimum wage from $5.15/hr to $7.25/hr. In Missouri, Americans United For Change targeted Senator Jim Talent for his opposition to increasing the federal and state minimum wage while voting for multiple pay raises for himself and his colleagues. Our staff in Missouri held press conferences, did rapid response to Presidential visits and publicized reports on the issue.
In addition, Americans United For Change used the foundation of success from these issues to advocate for a host of policy initiatives vital to millions of Americans including: increasing the minimum wage, improving port security, addressing high energy prices, reversing cuts in student loans, changing course in Iraq and improving affordable access to quality healthcare.
The chief mission of Americans United For Change for the next two years is to amplify the progressive message - to contribute to a grass roots groundswell for progressive policies. Progressives need to redefine "common sense" - by reasserting the primacy of the traditional progressive values that resonate with most Americans. We must define for the American people what Progressives stand for - both our policies and programs and our fundamental values.
- Increasing the minimum wage
- Allowing Medicare to directly negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs
- Preventing privatization of Social Security and preserving it for the future
- Improving access to affordable healthcare for all Americans
- Making college more affordable
- Creating a responsible energy policy
- Protecting our homeland
How We'll Get it Done
Americans United For Change will mobilize a broad network of grassroots activists to hold public officials accountable and to make real progress on these issues. We will run national media campaigns to engage millions of Americans and provide important air cover for our on-the-ground activities in states and congressional districts. We will use all the tools available to educate, engage and activate citizens, including:
- Staff in 23 states and Congressional districts
- National advertising
- Targeted press and editorial outreach
- Online petitions and organizing
- Attention-getting events
- Grassroots organizing
- Community meetings
- Aggressive PR tactics
Americans United For Change is a platform for patriotic voices from all along the ideological spectrum: people who care about America and believe we are stronger united rather than divided; moving forward rather than standing still. We are not a partisan organization nor are we allied with any political party. Together, we will amplify our voices so the priorities of working people can no longer be ignored by the powerful. Our goal is simple: a government that works for all of us.
Meet Our Staff
- Tom McMahon - Acting Executive Director
- Caren Benjamin - Deputy Executive Director
- Jeremy Funk - Press Secretary
- Shannon Williams - Office Manager