Institute for Policy Studies - Influence on Government Policy

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The Institute for Policy Studies' Influence on Government Policy.

"Alternative Budgets"

In 1975 a group of 47 members of Congress, led by John Conyers, asked the IPS to prepare an "alternative budget" to that proposed by President Ford. This request was repeated in 1976 and 1978, by 56 legislators.

The 1978 document called for "a socialist housing program...radical social change in the educational system...a 50% cut in the Defense budget". . .and "disengagement" from America's overseas commitments.

In 1983 sixty Congressmen went back to the IPS with a request for another "alternative" budget.[1]

The Washington School

The Washington School, founded by IPS in 1978, was an important means of influencing Congress and the Democratic Party. Courses on defense, foreign affairs, and domestic policies are taught there by IPS officers and staffers, and other American or foreign radical "experts." A large number of members of Congress and staffers have attended these schools. Several legislators have also taught there, including the following:

1984 elections

During the 1984 Democratic primaries, Marcus Raskin and Richard Barnet advised George McGovern and Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.), and IPS fellow Saul Landau, an Emmy-winning filmmaker, shot some of McGovern's spots.

Institute for Policy Studies director Robert Borosage was brought into Jesse Jackson's campaign by IPS fellow Roger Wilkins, a former assistant attorney general and a nephew of the late NAACP president Roy Wilkins.

To Jackson, he was a senior adviser. The relationship between "Jesse and IPS is built on me", says Wilkins.

Jesse and I have known each other for a very long time, more than 20 years, since he was working for Martin Luther King Jr. and I was in the Department of Justice.
As an older fellow I have not always approved of everything Jesse has done; nor have I always approved of his style. Having said that, my sense is that his run in 1984 was historic and constructive.[3]

Congressional Progressive Caucus/Progressive Challenge

CPC co chair Lynn Woolsey, IPS director John Cavanagh, CPC co-founder, long time IPS supporter and House Judiciary committee chair John Conyers, CPC co chair Barbara Lee

IPS has significant influence inside the U.S. legislature through the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

From the IPS website history page:[4]

Currently, IPS advises the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which, with more than 70 members, is the largest non-party Caucus.

In the late 1990s IPS established Progressive Challenge to utilize leftist groups including Democratic Socialists of America, Americans for Democratic Action, United Electrical Workers, NETWORK, National Jobs for All Coalition etc to pressure[5]the Progressive Caucus in the "correct" direction.

Democratic Socialists of America member Bob Roman, writes of a 1998 Chicago Progressive Challenge meeting attended by Congressmen Jesse Jackson, Luis Gutierrez and Danny Davis;

On the evening of Monday, April 21, the Progressive Challenge came to Chicago. Starting off with a town hall style meeting that brought together about 150 people in the UNITE hall at 333 S. Ashland in Chicago, the meeting was structured to present testimony from representative of various local organizations to local Congressional members of the Progressive Caucus.
DSA was particularly well represented by the testimony of the Youth Section's International Secretary, Daraka Larimore-Hall. Daraka Larimore-Hall gave an impassioned, coherent presentation that linked the various aspects of DSA's agenda with the project at hand.
Congressmen Jesse Jackson, Jr., Luis Gutierrez and Danny Davis attended the meeting...
The Progressive Challenge is an effort to link the Congressional Progressive Caucus with the larger left grass roots network of single issue, constituent, labor and ideological organizations. The Institute for Policy Studies is very much the keystone organization of this project, which has brought together some 40 organizations including DSA, Americans for Democratic Action, United Electrical Workers, NETWORK, National Jobs for All Coalition to name a few. No one of these groups is a major player inside the Beltway, but together they have captured the attention of the Progressive Caucus and contributed to its growth.

Local government influence

IPS has long worked to move municipal governments in a "progressive' direction. In 1975, IPS initiated the (National) Conference on Alternative State and Local Public Policies, which brought together "progressive" legislators to develop more "equitable" legislation. This work is carried on today through IPS’s Cities for Progress project, which connects local officials pursuing leftist policies. One example is a Chicago bill that would set a floor for big box retail wages.

In October 1979[6], IPS's NCASLPP {National Conference for Alternative State and Local Public Policies}, directed by former Students for a Democratic Society leader Lee Webb was independently incorporated under Webb, then an IPS trustee, as CASLP, the Conference on Alternative State and Local Policies.

Another IPS municipal project is Cities for Peace.

From the IPS website history page;

IPS also founded Cities for Peace, which coordinated hundreds of city council resolutions against the war and is now organizing resolutions to bring the troops home and against war in Iran.

Obama administration

IPS Ideas for Obama administration, December 16 2008

The institute for Policy Studies sees the Obama administration as a "window of opportunity" to push for "progressive" change.

IPS plans to utilize its "deep ties with the Congressional Progressive Caucus" and the wider social movements to pressure the Obama administration.

In 2008 IPS enlisted 70 writers to produce a document "Mandate for Change-Policies and Leadership for 2009 and Beyond", which is designed to provide a policy blueprint for President Obama's administration.


  1. Communists in the Democratic party, page 71
  2. Communists in the Democratic party, page 73
  3. Left-Wing Thinkers Interview by Sidney Blumenthal Washington Post, 30 July 1986
  4. IPS history
  5. New Ground 58 May - June, 1998
  6. Information DigestVol XI #22 Nov 7 1980 p 386