A Banner Year at the Progressive Policy Institute

By / 12.16.2019
Dear Friends,
I look back on 2019 with mixed feelings. It’s been another terrific year for the Progressive Policy Institute. But it hasn’t been a great year for our country.
Thanks to Rep. Adam Schiff, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats, the public knows exactly how President Trump misused the power of his office to pursue his personal and political interests. For this and his blatant obstruction of justice, Trump richly deserves to be impeached.
He likely won’t be convicted, however, because most Republican Senators apparently lack the integrity and courage to put country over party and uphold the Constitution. So U.S. voters will have to fire Trump to get our democracy back on track.
Democrats’ responsibility is to give voters an acceptable alternative. As a think tank, PPI can’t endorse candidates, but we can influence the national political debate. Over the past year we’ve done just that.
For example, PPI organized issues forums in Iowa earlier this year featuring former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who led a discussion of progressive alternatives to single payer or “Medicare for all,” and Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, who joined Iowa leaders in making the case for a major infrastructure push to stimulate job and business creation in parts of the country that have been left out of today’s prosperity.
In September, PPI rolled out our alternative to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ massively expensive and disruptive Medicare for All plan: Affordable Health Care for All: An American Solution to High Costs and Coverage Gaps. Written by PPI health policy director Arielle Kane, the report instead proposes an innovative “price cap” and other reforms that would reduce medical costs without depriving 150 million Americans of private health insurance.
Throughout the year, Team PPI also kept up a steady output of op-eds in major newspapers, articles, posts and media mentions. And thanks to digital communications director Carter Christensen, our online communications footprint is bigger than ever.

Here are some other highlights from the year:

  • In a series of groundbreaking reports and articles, PPI chief economic strategist Michael Mandel documented the enormous contribution digital innovation is making to U.S. job growth and competitiveness, including the emergence of “manufacturing platforms” – companies that rewrite the rules of production and product development, and in the process create new opportunities for local manufacturing.
  • PPI’s Reinventing America’s Schools project, led by David Osborne, Curtis Valentine and Tressa Pankovits, helped education leaders and parents’ groups in many cities learn from “best practice” K-12 reforms in New Orleans, Washington, D.C., Denver and Indianapolis. PPI also pushed back against a campaign by teachers’ unions to demonize public charter schools, reminded Democrats that their party had led the development of charters, and criticized Sens. Sanders and Elizabeth Warren for parroting union demands to deprive minority parents of the ability to choose better schools for their kids.
  • In July, PPI released a comprehensive budget proposal: Funding America’s Future: A Progressive Budget for Equitable Growth. Written by Ben Ritz and Brendan McDermott, the 96-page blueprint details a fiscally responsible way to cut the national debt while supercharging critical public investments in innovation and growth, modernizing federal health and retirement programs and reforming taxes to reward work over wealth.
  • On the trade front, PPI highlighted the destructive impact of President Trump’s capricious tariffs, while also making the case for why progressives should “get to yes” on the NAFTA update. This included conversations between New Democrats and Blue Dogs with Ambassadors of America’s chief trading partners.
  • On the increasingly important issue of climate change, Strategic Adviser Paul Bledsoe skewered both GOP science denial and Green New Deal fantasies of a top-down reordering of the U.S. economy. He advocated instead for practical clean energy policies, such as making sure America wins the global race to electric cars.
  • Our Center for Civil Justice, led by attorney Phil Goldberg, hosted a California forum on how local and state governments can do their part to combat climate change without resorting to litigation scapegoating energy companies.
  • PPI kept up its robust international engagement in Europe, Asia and Latin America. In addition to multiple trips to Brussels and other European capitals, PPI made its first foray into India, and also met with key political and business leaders in Japan, Vietnam, Australia and Canada.
2019 was another year of expansion. Additions to our team include Neel Brown (political outreach), Dane Stangler (entrepreneurship, metro innovation and immigration); and Jason Gold (leading a new project on “Free Enterprise for All.”).
None of this would be possible without the counsel, friendship, and financial support of friends like you. Together, we are strengthening America’s pragmatic center against extremism on both ends of the political spectrum. Please let us hear from you in 2020 as we work to make democracy in America great again.
With gratitude,
Will Marshall