The deliberately misnamed Progressive Policy Institute, along with the Democratic Leadership Council and others who called themselves "New Democrats", steered the rise of Bill Clinton and the Democrat's major retreat from their own policies, which contributed mightily to the growth of the American right.
Dan Roberts, Guardian - At Columbia University in New York the Progressive Policy Institute, which helped Bill Clinton and Tony Blair pioneer so-called third way politics in the 1990s, held a closed-door strategy session for congressional staffers that was designed to find ways of promoting growth.
“There is no question that the prevailing temper of the Democratic party is populist: strongly skeptical of what we like to call capitalism and angry about the perceived power of the monied elite in politics,” said PPI president and founder Will Marshall.
“But inequality is not the biggest problem we face: it is symptomatic of the biggest problem we face, which is slow growth.”
Al From, a leading figure of the centre-left who chaired the Democratic Leadership Council during the first Clinton presidency, argues that a focus on inequality, though understandable after the banking crash, risks driving all candidates too far from policies that would promote growth.
“They rev up the base of the party, but if all you are doing is redistributing golden eggs and you’ve got a dead goose, you aren’t going to get very far,” he says. “That’s what I worry about more than anything else.”
He adds: “It’s feel-good politics. It’s very easy to say: ‘When I’m elected we are going to increase social security,’ but we might not be able to pay for social security as it is.”
But despite PPI’s Columbia summit and a burst of recent policy papers from another centrist group, Third Way, the influence of the New Democrat Coalition and a similar grouping of moderate southern Democrats known as the Blue Dogs is widely seen as in terminal decline.
Bruce Dixon, Black Agenda Report, 2009 - New Democrats supported the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and continual increases in the military budget. They
all supported the bailout, and uphold No Child Left Behind and favor
the gradual dismantling and privatization of public education in the US which NCLB set in motion. New Democrats are tepid at best on the Employee Free Choice Act. . .
And despite the fact that single payer health care would create 2.6
million new jobs and cover all the uninsured while costing no more than
the present and profoundly broken health care system, New Democrats
prefer a healthy private insurance sector to a healthy population. . .
Sam Smith, Shadows of Hope, 1993 - In 1988, the 1992 play was already being cast. Conservative Democrats were holding strategy meetings at the home of party fund-raiser Pamela Harriman. The meetings -- eventually nearly a hundred of them -- were aimed at ending years of populist insurrection within the party. They were regularly moderated by Clark Clifford and Robert Strauss, the Mr. Fixits of the Democratic mainstream. Democratic donors paid $1000 to take part in the sessions and by the time it was all over, Mrs. Harriman had raised about $12 million for her kind of Democrats.
The play was also being cast by a group that called itself the Democratic Leadership Council. Although lacking any official role in the Democratic Party (and often appearing more a Democratic Abandon Ship Council), the DLC claimed it was the voice of mainstream party thought. In fact, it was primarily a lobby for the views of southern and other conservative Democrats, yet so successful was its media manipulation that it managed with impunity to call its think tank the Progressive Policy Institute.