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THE OTHER 98% (TO98) Printer Friendly Page

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  • Denounces "Tea Party extremism"
  • Contends that America's economy is “unfairly rigged to favor Wall Street CEOs
  • Charges that “the Elite 2% ... aren’t paying their fair share” in taxes
  • Has values similar to those of the Occupy Wall Street movement



Established
on April 15, 2010, The Other 98% (TO98) is a nonprofit grassroots network describing itself as “a political home for the silent majority of Americans who are tired of corporate control of Washington and the Tea Party extremism that ... works to protect it.” In an effort to “end the stranglehold that big corporations and their lobbyists have on our democracy,” TO98 aims to “kick corporate lobbyists out of DC, hold elected officials accountable, and make America work not just for the elite but for the other 98% of us.”

Echoing the message of the Occupy Wall Street movement, TO98 maintains that America's economy is “unfairly rigged to favor Wall Street CEOs while we in the middle class [get] beaten up by foreclosures and unemployment.” Further, the organization contends that too many conservatives mistakenly believe that the country's financial troubles are due to “some immigrant ... sneaking across the border in search of 'entitlements' or some 'lazy' inner-city family supposedly cheating on their taxes and leaving [others] holding the bill.” But the real problem, says TO98, is that “the Elite 2% ... aren’t paying their fair share.”[1]

One of TO98's co-founders is Ruckus Society president John Sellers, a former Greenpeace employee and a member of the Democratic Socialists of America. Sellers is also a founding partner of Agit-Pop Communications, which TO98 describes as a “subvertising agency serving the progressive netroots” by producing spoofs and parodies of corporate and political ads.

The author/humorist Andrew Boyd collaborated with Sellers to co-found both TO98 and Agit-Pop Communications. Sellers previously led the protracted satirical media campaign “Billionaires for Bush,” rooted in the premise that George W. Bush's economic policies were designed “to ensure that America will always be a place where corporations come first, where no billionaire is left behind, [and] where social services are a freak of history.”

Other key TO98 personnel include:

  • action director Samantha Corbin, a “non-violent direct action trainer” with the Ruckus Society, a founding member of the New York Action Network, and a former organizer/trainer with Occupy Wall Street;
  • development director Ericka Taylor, a former organizer with the Washington, DC chapter of ACORN; and
  • new media director Josh Bolotsky, an online organizer, blogger, and comedic performer/writer. Bolotsky previously worked on MoveOn.org's RepubliCorp project, which condemned large corporations for their “hostile takeover of the 2010 Elections” and their desire to take complete “ownership of America.” He also worked on the “Target Ain’t People” initiative denouncing the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which struck down a ban on corporations and labor unions using money from their general funds to produce and air campaign ads for congressional and presidential races.

One of TO98's major ongoing campaigns, titled “Impeach Clarence Thomas,” accuses the Supreme Court Justice of “accepting and hiding household income for anti-healthcare lobbying up through 2011—and then refusing to recuse himself from the Affordable Care Act [Obamacare] ruling despite standing to potentially pocket millions of dollars.” At issue was the fact that in 2010, Thomas's wife received a $150,000 salary from Liberty Central, an anti-Obamacare organization which she helped found, plus a much smaller sum (less than $15,000) from Liberty Consulting, an anti-healthcare-reform lobbying firm that she also founded.

Another major TO98 campaign is titled “Join Bernie Sanders: Kill Big Oil's Welfare Check,” which complains that American taxpayers give “$113 billion of tax-breaks, handouts, and subsidies [to] the fossil fuel industry” each decade. “It’s as if we’re paying them a performance bonus for wrecking the climate,” says TO98. “We’ll never get to renewable energy if we keep handing gobs of money to Big Oil, Coal and Gas.” To “strip away these outrageous subsidies,” TO98 supports legislation that was introduced (in May 2012) by Senator Sanders and Rep. Keith Ellison to end all tax breaks, special financing arrangements, and federal research-and-development funding on behalf of oil companies.


NOTE:

[1] TO98 describes its members as:

  • “hard-working Americans who are tired of seeing CEOs and lobbyists hijack our democracy to serve themselves at the expense of everyone else”;
  • “middle class Americans who for decades have dutifully paid our taxes while watching the biggest corporations and very wealthiest Americans pay a smaller and smaller share”;
  • “people tired of borrowing trillions from China, mortgaging our children’s futures in order to give handouts to the wealthiest 2%”;
  • “people tired of being ignored amidst the media fascination with the antics and misinformation of the Tea Party, a fringe 2% which distracts us from solving the very real problems facing America”; and
  • “disenfranchised Tea Partiers outraged about Wall Street bailouts and the unfairness of a system that gives massive tax breaks to global corporations and the very rich while leaving the rest of us to pick up the tab.”

 

 

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