The White House is considering a new policy that would give an advantage in bids for billions in government contracts to companies that pay workers “living wages” and offer generous benefits.
WND has learned the “living wage” campaign has long been pushed by the radical Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, and was largely initiated on a local level in the 1990s with the help of a socialist party of which evidence suggests Barack Obama was a member.
Critics warn a living wage advantage for more than $500 billion in government contracts could harm small companies, with case studies showing cities that enacted similar policies in the 1990s faced major financial losses. Business groups who oppose the plan say also it would increase government procurement costs.
The Associated Press obtained documents outlining the White House plan. The documents reportedly show the government would examine the wages and benefits – such as health insurance, retirement benefits and paid leave – a firm pays its employees as a factor in the process of awarding government contracts. Another factor would be whether a contract bidder is a repeat violator of labor and employment laws.
A Labor Department compliance office would compile a score on contract bidders based on the criteria and then determine which companies would get government contracts.
Writing about a similar policy that was being considered in Chicago in 2003, Steven Malanga of the City Journal stated the movement “sneaks socialism into cities.”
Malanga notes the living wage movement got its start in mid-1990s Baltimore, when a coalition of left-leaning church leaders, unionists and community activists largely led by ACORN began to push for a “social compact” that included a hike in the minimum wage to $6.10 – 43 percent above the federal minimum wage at the time – for service workers in hotels and other businesses in the city’s redeveloped Inner Harbor, a prime tourist area.
Baltimore’s then-mayor Kurt Schmoke eventually signed a compromise bill that guaranteed the new $6.10 minimum for workers at any companies contracting with the city. Supporters hailed the increase as a costless victory for low-income workers.
But Baltimore’s economy soon crashed, with 58,000 jobs disappearing, even as the rest of Maryland added 120,000 jobs and other cities across the country prospered.
“The living wage bill was just one expression of a fiercely anti-business climate that helped precipitate Baltimore’s economic collapse,” wrote Malanga.
Another locale that enacted a living wage bill soon to see its economy burn was Milwaukee County in Wisconsin, which passed a law increasing the minimum wage only for city-contracted janitors and security guards to $6.25 an hour.
That law was urged on by ACORN and the socialist New Party, which was also instrumental in lobby efforts in Baltimore. The living wage campaign was a main platform of the New Party.
The New Party sought to elect members to public office with the aim of moving the Democratic Party far leftward to ultimately form a new political party with a socialist agenda.
The New Party, established in 1992, took advantage of what was known as electoral “fusion,” which enabled candidates to run on two tickets simultaneously, attracting voters from both parties. But the New Party went defunct in 1998, one year after fusion was halted by the Supreme Court.
The New Party worked closely with ACORN to promote its candidates. ACORN, convicted in massive, nationwide voter fraud cases, was a point of controversy for Obama during his campaign for president.
In August, a former top member of the New Party recounted in a WND e-mail interview Obama’s participation with his organization.
“A subcommittee met with (Obama) to interview him to see if his stand on the living wage and similar reforms was the same as ours,” recalled Marxist activist Carl Davidson.
“We determined that our views on these overlapped, and we could endorse his campaign in the Democratic Party,” Davidson said.
Davidson was a Chicago member and activist within the New Party. He told WND he handled some of the New Party member databases and attending most of the party’s meetings.
Davidson is also a notorious far-left activist and former radical national leader in the anti-Vietnam War movement. He served as national secretary for the infamous Students of a Democratic Society anti-war group, from which the Weather Underground domestic terrorist organization later splintered.
Davidson remembers Obama attending a New Party meeting to thank attendees for voting for him.
Davidson said that to his knowledge Obama was not a member of the New Party “in any practical way” – using qualifying language.
Becoming a New Party member requires some effort on behalf of the politician. Candidates must be approved by the party’s political committee and, once approved, must sign a contract mandating they will have a “visible and active relationship” with the party.
Asked whether Obama signed the New Party contract, Davidson replied there was “no need for him to do so.”
“At the end of our session with him, we simply affirmed there was no need to do so, because on all the key points, the stand of his campaign and the New Party reform planks were practically the same,” Davidson told WND.
Davidson denied the New Party was specifically a socialist party, claiming, “The vast majority of active members were low- and middle-income blacks in the inner city fighting for their immediate demands.”
But the socialist-oriented goals of the New Party were enumerated on its old website.
Among the New Party’s stated objectives were “full employment, a shorter work week and a guaranteed minimum income for all adults; a universal ‘social wage’ to include such basic benefits as health care, child care, vacation time and lifelong access to education and training; a systematic phase-in of comparable worth and like programs to ensure gender equity.”
The New Party stated it also sought “the democratization of our banking and financial system – including popular election of those charged with public stewardship of our banking system, worker-owner control over their pension assets [and] community-controlled alternative financial institutions.”
Many of the New Party’s founding members were Democratic Socialists of America leaders and members of Committees of Correspondence, a breakaway of the Communist Party USA.
Obama attended several DSA events and meetings, including a DSA-sponsored town hall meeting Feb. 25, 1996, entitled “Employment and Survival in Urban America.” He sought and received an endorsement from the DSA.
Asked by WND whether he thinks Obama has socialist leanings, Davidson stated, “The truth is that Obama was and is a liberal Democrat and an Alinskyist community organizer – which if you know much about Alinsky, is just militant liberalism.”
“Obama was never a man of the left, either in his views or in being a member of an actual socialist organization,” added Davidson.
While running for the Illinois state Senate in 1996 as a Democrat, Obama actively sought and received the endorsement of the New Party, according to confirmed reports during the 2008 presidential campaign.
Among New Party members was linguist and radical activist Noam Chomsky.
Obama listed as socialist party member
Obama’s campaign in 2008 denied the then–presidential candidate was ever an actual member of the New Party.
But the New Zeal blog dug up print copies of the New Party News, the party’s official newspaper, which show Obama posing with New Party leaders, listing him as a New Party member and printing quotes from him as a member.
The Party’s spring 1996 newspaper boasted: “New Party members won three other primaries this Spring in Chicago: Barack Obama (State Senate), Michael Chandler (Democratic Party Committee) and Patricia Martin (Cook County Judiciary).”
The paper quoted Obama saying, “These victories prove that small ‘d’ democracy can work.”
The newspaper lists other politicians it endorsed who were not members but specifies Obama as a New Party member.
New Ground, the newsletter of Chicago’s Democratic Socialists of America, reported in its July/August 1996 edition that Obama attended a New Party membership meeting April 11, 1996, in which he expressed his gratitude for the group’s support and “encouraged NPers (New Party members) to join in his task forces on voter education and voter registration.”
With additional research by Brenda J. Elliott