Priorities, Inc. (PI)

Priorities, Inc. (PI)


* Seeks to redirect military spending to social welfare spending

Priorities, Inc. is the parent organization of TrueMajority, and describes itself as “an unusual mix of citizens — from former military brass and businesspeople to religious leaders and ordinary citizens — who believe America can have a more humane government.” Priorities, Inc. condemns the “wasting [of] billions of dollars on nuclear weapons, Star Wars, [and] other outmoded weapons, while … one out of every six of our own kids live in poverty and millions of children worldwide die each year from hunger-related illnesses.” Through its persuasion of political leaders, the organization seeks to “increase America’s investment in programs that benefit children (schools, health care, Head Start, etc.) by cutting Cold War weapons systems and shifting the savings.” By Priorities’ estimate, such a reallocation of resources would make an extra $60 billion available each year for social welfare spending.

Priorities, Inc. focuses its activities chiefly in the target markets of Iowa and New Hampshire, because of the large role those states play in American politics. The Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary have evolved into major indicators of political candidates’ chances for success in securing the nomination of either the Republican or Democratic Party.

Priorities, Inc. is composed of three subdivisions:

Military Advisory Committee (MAC): Membership in this committee includes a dozen retired military leaders, among them Vice Admiral John J. Shanahan; former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb, and onetime CIA Director Stansfield Turner. The MAC formulates and defines Priorities, Inc.’s positions on military-related matters.

Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities (BLSP): This division of Priorities, Inc. is made up of 750 members, including the present or former CEOs of Bell Industries, Black Entertainment Television, Eastman Kodak, Goldman Sachs, Men’s Warehouse, and Phillips Van Heusen, as well as notables like Paul Newman and Ted Turner. BLSP’s stated mission is “to change U.S. budget priorities to reflect a national commitment to education, healthcare, energy independence, job training and deficit reduction — at no additional taxpayer expense — by eliminating funding for unneeded Cold War era weapons systems.”

Faithful America: In partnership with the National Council of Churches, this “online activist network among people of faith who share our values … combines the e-organizing techniques pioneered by TrueMajority with the outreach capability of the Council’s 40 denominations and thousands of religious institutions.”

In March 2006, Priorities, Inc. lent its support to H.R. 4898, legislation intended “to reallocate funds toward sensible priorities such as improved children’s education, increased children’s access to health care, expanded job training, and increased energy efficiency and conservation through a reduction of wasteful defense spending, and for other purposes.” This bill was sponsored by Representatives William Lacy Clay, John Conyers, Danny Davis, Raul Grijalva, Michael Honda, Dennis Kucinich, Jim McDermott, Jim McGovern, Cynthia McKinney, Barbara Lee, Sheila Jackson Lee, Jerrold Nadler, Major Owens, Jan Schakowsky, Pete Stark, and Lynn Woolsey. All are members of the Progressive Caucus in the House of Representatives.

In September 2007, TrueMajority and its related organization TrueMajorityACTION merged with USAction.

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