Voices For Progress (VFP)

Voices For Progress (VFP)


* Seeks to educate the general public and lawmakers, so as to persuade them to adopt leftwing perspectives on a variety of key social issues

Established in 2009 as a project of the Advocacy Fund, Voices For Progress (VFP) describes itself as a nonprofit “grass-tops organization” whose mission is to promote “the public interest” by “educat[ing] philanthropists, business leaders, state & local elected officials, and other community leaders to efficiently and effectively advocate with federal policy-makers on important issues facing Congress.” Toward this end, VFP: (a) provides these “influential citizens” with “clear, succinct background information on key issues and their legislative status—information that might take [them] weeks to assemble on [their] own”; (b) helps them convey this information to elected officials in conference calls and face-to-face meetings that VFP arranges; and (c) notifies members when specified elected officials are swing votes on key issues.

VFP’s major public-policy concerns include the following:

* Protecting the Environment and Preventing Climate Catastrophe: Asserting that the greenhouse-gas emissions associated with human industrial activity are the chief causes of global warming, VFP contends that “climate change is already disrupting our economy, health, and communities in very troubling ways” and will become “unimaginably catastrophic” if left unchecked. Among the current consequences of this phenomenon, says VFP, are “more than 300,000 deaths from floods, drought and disease, and about $125 billion in economic losses each year.” VFP places most of the blame for these calamities squarely on the United States, noting that “though Americans make up just 4 percent of the world’s population, we produce 25 percent of the carbon dioxide pollution from fossil fuel burning.”[1]

* Protecting Civil and Human Rights: VFP seeks to prohibit “racial, gender, religious, national-origin, sexual-orientation, and disability discrimination,” all of which it views as widespread in contemporary America. Moreover, the organization supports a “fair, inclusive, and affordable” plan for “comprehensive immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship” for all of the “11 million immigrants living in our country without documentation.”[2]

* Preventing Federal Budget Cuts: In 2013, VFP lamented the “high-profile impacts of sequestration,” which cut $85 billion from that year’s $3.8 trillion federal spending budget. Claiming that these “economically dangerous” cuts were responsible for 750,000 lost jobs in 2013 alone, VFP blamed “conservatives and deficit hawks in both parties” for the “economic mistake” of “shifting the national focus to reducing the federal deficit” rather than recognizing “how much more [deficit] spending was needed to strengthen the economy and invest in the future.”

* Closing Tax Loopholes and Asking the Wealthier to Pay Their Fair Share: Advocating “fair taxation” in the form of a steeply progressive tax structure, VFP maintains that “those of us who have benefitted the most from the opportunities our country provides” should “return to paying a greater share of our income or inheritance than others.”

* Strengthening America’s Safety Net: VFP emphasizes the importance of using public funds to ensure that “all Americans have guaranteed access to adequate food, shelter, social services, and security.”

* Protecting Reproductive Freedom: According to VFP, “women—not politicians—[should] have the right to make decisions about their reproductive health.” This includes the unchecked right to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand at any stage of a woman’s pregnancy. 

* Improving Education and Opportunity: VFP calls for increases in public funding for education from pre-school through college, “so that all children and adults have the opportunity to maximize their potential.”

* Ensuring Access to Quality and Affordable Health Care: VFP lauds the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (i.e., Obamacare) as “a historic move … to improve our health care system.”

* Reforming the Way Elections Are Financed: To “minimiz[e] the impact of wealth and corporate money on campaigns,” VFP favors the public financing of elections.

* Reforming Filibuster Rules: In 2013, VFP complained that throughout the course of the Obama administration, “the Republican strategy has been to maintain the right-wing majorities [which] Republican Presidents have put on the courts by using filibusters to block confirmation votes on [Obama’s] nominations.” Calling for Senate rule changes that would make it more difficult to carry out future filibusters, VFP declared: “We must urge President Obama, Senator [Harry] Reid, and Democrats in the Senate to make confirming good progressive judges a top priority.”

The founder and president of VFP is Sanford A. Newman, who in 1982 created Project Vote, the voter-mobilization arm of the community organization ACORN.


[1] Because “the U.S. continues to be the world’s global heater,” VFP reasons, America “has a responsibility to take a leadership role in solving the problem” by investing heavily in wind power, solar power, next-generation bio-fuels, a smart grid energy-transmission system, and “green jobs.”

[2] “Letting this moment pass without putting every resource possible into enacting comprehensive reform,” said VFP in 2013, “would be a tragedy and could irreparably damage President Obama’s ability to move other initiatives in his final term.” VFP’s stance on immigration reform is rooted in the fact that Latinos, who overwhelmingly tend to support Democratic political candidates and causes, are the “largest and fastest-growing minority group” in America and thus constitute a vitally “importan[t] … voting bloc.”

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