Liberal groups aim for counter-punch to Tea Party

A coalition of liberal groups seeking to create a counterbalance to the Tea Party movement have released the Contract for the American Dream, a response to the Tea Party-crafted Contract from America. The coalition includes the liberal groups MoveOn.org and Rebuild the Dream, headed by Van Jones, former special adviser for green jobs in the Obama administration.

The group repeatedly criticized the Tea Partys goals during a Tuesday afternoon conference call, but Jones indicated they held a begrudging respect for the movements organizational abilities.

My frustration isn’t that the Tea Party got so loud, it’s that the vast majority of Americans got so quiet, Jones said. The majority of Americans have to reassert ourselves and reassert our values.

Jones said the new contract’s supporters could exceed the Tea Party’s influence.

The majority of Americans in this debt-ceiling debacle were simply not heard, and we’re trying to fix that, he said. This is an attempt to refocus on jobs, not cuts. Almost three times as many people participated in this contract as the Tea Party’s [Contract from America] at the start.

Jones said approximately 130,000 people had participated in shaping the Contract for the American Dream, while the Tea Party’s 10-point Contract from America had the input of approximately 50,000 people.

MoveOn.org Executive Director Justin Ruben criticized both parties for their handling of the economic crisis.

Neither party is dealing with this crisis right now, he said. One party is holding us hostage repeatedly and the other party has failed to stop them. Democrats have not been offering a clear prescription for getting the economy moving, and Republicans are offering a prescription that’s actually destroying this country.

Ruben’s criticisms mirror those of the Tea Party — that neither party is responding to what they view as mainstream American values, and that grassroots movements need to hold them accountable.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) also participated in the call, and said she plans to introduce the liberal coalition’s 10-point plan for Jobs, not cuts in Congress. She said the Obama administration had requested a copy of the plan but had not gotten back to her with their thoughts on it.

Erik Wasson contributed.

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