Promise America Alliance Allies

The Promise America Alliance that was formed in 2016 has been working with several organizations and individuals over the past couple of years while defining its mission and firming up its role and plans. There are many organizations and public figures, both elected and in the media, as well as a host of people who truly support healing the current national divide. There are many approaches and “soluti.ons” that are put forth and championed. Some of these touch upon aspects of the approach that the Promise America Alliance has put forth and is seeking to ally with. We will keep adding to this list and update new information

Among these organizations there can be accounted: The Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at Montpelier; the University of Virginia; Kirkus Reviews;  the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Colgate University. We also  believe the efforts of usafacts; the Bridge Alliance; Washington Center for Equitable Growth, Demos

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As stated the mission of The Promise America Alliance is to advance the national purpose of the United States as set forth in the Preamble of the Constitution. The Preamble is the greatest promise to America that has ever been made. And it must be kept. Working in collaboration with like-minded individuals and organizations, and based on the standards declared in the Preamble, our top prioritiesare to create, develop and promote a leading annual indicator as an accounting of the national condition, along with related publications, forums and presentations in furtherance of this purpose.

Assessment of Americans’ quality of life according to the Preamble’s standards will always be undertaken in an independent, nonpartisan and objective way to support the pursuit of happiness and well-being of all American citizens. In this pursuit, we will appropriate the architecture of the Preamble for vigorous civic engagement, enhanced national purpose and strengthened American leadership at home and across the free world.Here are some of those organizations and individuals with whom we have worked with and with whom we share a common purpose and affinity:

  1. THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA – Department of Engineering, Systems and Environment 

The Promise America Alliance has sponsored and is collaborating on a project with the Dept. of Engineering Systems & Environment at The University of Virginia lead by Assistant Professor Stephanie Guerlain called “Beyond GDP: Measuring the Promise of America”. We are working with a team of top engineering students to develop an accessible way to measure the US and other countries along a more complete scale than the GDP that encompasses the goals as set forth in the US Constitution’s Preamble “Union, Justice, Tranquility, Defence, Welfare, and Liberty”. In addition, we seek to identify thought leaders around this topic, and to invite such leaders to UVA to give talks and join the effort being put forth by the Promise America Alliance, as dissemination and acceptance is key.

To date, we have inventoried existing alternative measures, identified a viable set of metrics for each area of the Preamble, and drafted a website to enable easy navigation and visualization of the metrics. Upon conducting our research, we realized we are essentially building what is described in the Congressional Bill to establish the Key National Indicators System back in 2010 as proposed by Senators Kennedy and Enzi. See:
https://www.stateoftheusa.org/assets/Key%20National%20Indicators%20Act%20of%202008.pdf. The funding authorized by this legislation was not appropriated.

The Bankard Foundation at the UVa has approved a grant to help fund a forum of experts to discuss the Beyond GDP opportunities and the effort to re-establish the me  chanics of the creation of a Key National Indicator. Tying the increased ability to mine data to the basic principles as set forth in the Preamble, and having the focus on the ways to have civil and informed discussion as to how best deliver the bottom line to the greatest number at the least cost is an ultimate goal of this project and affiliation.

 

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The Center for The Constitution at Montpelier

Montpelier bills itself as: A memorial to James Madison, a museum of American history, and a center for constitutional education that engages the public with the enduring legacy of Madison’s most powerful idea: government by the people. In the Fall, 2018 publication  of We the People, the Center’s magazine, Kat Imhoff, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Montpelier Foundation writes:

The Constitution is the keystone that holds our oft-divided nation together. For more than 230 years, this singular document has served as the foundation of our democracy Since its ratification, debate has continued regarding the core issues of how we govern ourselves.Yet the role of the Constitution as the ultimate starting point for any significant debate has endured.

In order to steward and grow the national conversation about the role the Constitution plays in each and American life, The Center partnered with Edelman Intelligence to conduct a major national survey to discover the essence of this conversation. You the reader can take the survey and view its results at:
https://www.montpelier.org/learn/national-survey-results which highlight how Americans perceive their own rights, the rights of others, and the issues that are shaping our democracy where significant divides remain. It also illuminates areas of shared belief and shared concern. The tenets set forth in the Preamble to the Constitution are the greatest promise that the Founders made to their contemporaries and to the posterity they envisioned will share their benefits.

Here are some excerpts from the We the Peoplepublication that give a background of why it was done and the continuing role that The Center is undertaking:

“Our Constitution starts with the popular refrain, ‘We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union,’ memorized by many with the help of ‘Schoolhouse Rock.’ These dual concepts, ‘we the people,’ and the ideal of a ‘more perfect union,’ are cornerstones of the revolutionary blueprint for a fledgling nation set forth by James Madison and his contemporaries. This pursuit of perfection was built on the idea that a governmental structure could simultaneously protect liberty and allow for effective government, all but unheard of at the time.

Along with protecting against factions and creating a governmental system that included separation of powers and checks and balances to protect against self-interest and ambition. Madison’s biggest contributions were arguably the principles of freedom and responsibility. These principles were paramount to the great American eperiment in self-government and placed a previously inconceivable trust in ‘we the people.’ Fast forward 231 years. Though much has changed in the age of ‘fake news,’ hyper-partisanship, and Twitter feuds, we are constantly contemplating the age-old ideas of liberty, freedom, and responsibility. We still refer back to the document–the product of Millennial Madison in the upstairs library and hot days in Philadelphia in 1787– as our user’s manual, even though the nation has grown and changed significantly in the intervening centuries. It guides our court decisions and our law enforcement protocols, and it touches nearly every aspect of our day-to-day lives as Americans, whether we recognize it or not. The NFL, gun rights, civil rights, women’s rights, data privacy–we can’t turn on the TV, read the news, or scroll through our social media feeds without coming across a hotly contested constitutional issue. This raial idea of  ‘government by the people’ is as relevant today as it’s ever been. It has been called a “hing’e point in human history,’ and it is our responsibility as Americans to be engaged actors in learning about and living out arguably the most important and flawed, western document of the last 1,000 years.

But what, exactly, does ‘we the people’ mean in 2018? The Constitution as a product of a significantly different era, and though it has withstood the test of time and remains the oldest Constitution in use in the world today, ‘the people’ it references, privy to these liberties and freedoms, aren’t the same today as they were 231 years ago.

We find ourselves, therefore, ruminating on a few fundamental questions: Is Madison’s radical idea of government by the people holding up to modern social and cultural shifts? Is it securing ‘the blessings of liberty’ for all American’s equally?

The answer we uncovered through the first edition of our recurring national survey is no, not yet.”

Details of the results of the survey can be found in the Center’s magazine and viewed on line at the Center’s website. Over 2,500 of a national representative sample of people 18+ who live within the United States were surveyed. The results quantify what many of us can feel: America isn’t the same for everyone. Ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status strongly influence perceived stability of constitutional rights and protections. The survey indicates that there are a few things that Americans can agree upon. Seventy six percent of Americans believe their rights are not as secure and stable today as were in the past, with eighty percent of Americans worried about rights being diluted or taken away. With technological and societal advancements, more often people are asking if the Constitution still effectively applies and protects our modern liberties and freedoms.

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The Bridge Alliance

The Bridge Alliances is a diverse coalition of more than 80 respected established organizations committed to revitalizing democratic practice in America. Since it’s often difficult for any one group to fully capture public attention or broadly popularize solutions, we are banding together to create great impact across three broad areas: civic engagement, governance and policymaking, and campaign and election processes. The intent is to work individually and together to transform the political terrain. The members put country before self-interest and ask their friends, neighbors, colleagues, competitors and elected officials with varying political beliefs and backgrounds to do the same. Tshe Bridge Alliance provide essential infrastructure and investment for its member organizations to connect and collaborate on projects that further shared goals to generate a collective impact far greater than any one group could make alone.

Area of Focus

Bridge Alliance members work to transform the political process, from elections to governance, so the American people are heard loud and clear. Its organizations reform how elections are run, encourage elected and appointed officials to govern in the public interest and enable everyone to more easily and thoroughly engage in policy debates and civic life. Individual organizations are involved in many of the areas touched upon and promoted by the Promise America Alliance. It is the Promise America Alliance’s intention to partner with members to advance these goals which can be further supported by the efforts to promote the promises made by the Founders to We the People as the Nation grew and prospered and to create more relevant reports and indices that go beyond GDP.

These current and planned efforts include:

  • Civic Engagement; Some of the members work in civic engagement, from the grassroots to the national levels. They want to improve participation at every level of government and engage citizens across the political spectrum in healthy, productive debate and discussions.
  • Governance and Policymaking; Other members are working to transform government decision-making processes to include more direct and meaningful input from the general public and to be more collaborative. They also are working to minimize or eliminate the influence of big money and personal interests in policymaking and to strengthen disclosure requirements.
  • Campaigns and the Election Process; Members also work to improve voter turnout, promote truth in campaigning, hold candidates accountable, empower average citizens considering running, define sensible voting districts, and educate current and future leaders on process improvements.

Bridge Action Grants

Bridge Alliances has already funded more than $500,000 in grants – with $1 million or more to follow – to support collective impact efforts for collaboration among their member organizations. Additional awards will be financed by the Invest America Fund, which supports the emerging community of political entrepreneurs and groups whose core mission is to solve the country’s toughest national problems.

The more than 80 organizations of the Bridge Alliance movement belong to political parties across the spectrum – or to none at all. They are active in red states and blue, in the heartland and on the coasts. They actively seek to strengthen our political system, not discard it, so government works more effectively for all Americans. Their organizations represent a combined 3 million supporters in the burgeoning field of civic and civil discourse; nationwide more than one billion dollars is invested in improving government effectiveness. These organizations are committed to finding common ground to ensure a government that is by and for the people.

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                                      USAFACTS:

                                        (from their website: https://usafacts.org/)

USAFacts is a not-for-profit, non-partisan resource of numbers and trends in government spending and results. While still in early development stage, we believe it will be the only comprehensive source of combined federal, state, and local public investment and results. Our information is drawn from public sources and is for anyone talking about or making decisions about our country – elected officials, government staff, journalists, business or community leaders, citizens, and residents. Our goals are to help inform active citizenship and fact-based debate, and advocate for transparency of and ease-of-access to public data.

Principles

USAFacts is a new data-driven portrait of the American population, our government’s finances, and government’s impact on society. We are a non-partisan, not-for-profit civic initiative and have no political agenda or commercial motive. We provide this information as a free public service and are committed to maintaining and expanding it in the future.

We rely exclusively on publicly available government data sources. We don’t make judgments or prescribe specific policies. Whether government money is spent wisely or not, whether our quality of life is improving or getting worse – that’s for you to decide. We hope to spur serious, reasoned, and informed debate on the purpose and functions of government. Such debate is vital to our democracy. We hope that USAFacts will make a modest contribution toward building consensus and finding solutions.

There’s more to USAFacts than this website. We also offer an annual report, a summary report, and a “10-K” modeled on the document public companies submit annually to the SEC for transparency and accountability to their investors.

How is USAFacts funded?

USAFacts Institute is a not-for-profit, non-partisan entity privately funded by Steve Ballmer. In order to remain completely non-partisan and free from bias, we do not accept contributions from external donors in any form (gifts, grants, donations, etc.).We do not receive tax exemption under revenue tax laws and we are not a 501(c) (3) organization.

What’s next for USAFacts?

Our primary goal is to add more data to our database, including state and local data that will allow users to find information on specific states, counties, cities, and school districts. We are also developing partnerships to deliver government data to journalists, educators, and policy-makers which suits their needs or furthers debate on a topic.

How often is your data updated?

We completely refresh the data on our website and in our reports once a year, with monthly data updates as new data is released by government agencies.

Why do you only use Government data?

For consistency and to screen for bias, we only use government data — not data curated by think tanks, academics, or any outlet expressing a viewpoint about the data. The US maintains a network of statistical agencies whose purpose it is to collect objective information on government operations and the lives of the US population. We feel this is the best source of information for data-driven decision-making. However, government data is not perfect. USAFacts also advocates for higher-quality and more timely government data .

Why is some of your data old?

We publish the most up-to-date numbers available from the government. Due to funding or staffing levels, collection and release of data can have a significant delay. For example, the Census Bureau does not plan to release 2015 government employment data until 2019 and the Department of Homeland Security has only published figures on the unauthorized immigrant population through 2014. Financial data is also slow to publish – we currently have federal financial data through 2016 and state & local financial data through 2015.

When is the API going to be available?

USAFacts is currently in beta and we are working to build a public API (Application Programming Interface), to allow other websites to interact with our data. A release date for this product has not been set.

Do you provide government data for other countries?

We do not provide data for countries other than the United States.

As we built USAFacts, we encountered several challenges and made many decisions.

We depend on information from government agencies. We are limited by the timeliness, availability, and consistency of data collected by government. For example, the most recent year for which the Census Bureau has published state and local government budget data is 2014.

We show aggregated government statistics. We combine federal, state, and local statistics to show the full picture of government. See detailed methodologies for additional information.

We do not adjust for inflation or population unless otherwise noted.

We do not propose policy. We have assembled this report consisting of unbiased government data so the American public can draw its own conclusions.

We are not proposing that government should be a business. Although we use a corporate reporting structure, government is different from business in significant ways including its purpose (focused on outcomes for citizens, not profit) and structure (accountability is decentralized).

We have made judgments about which data to show. Sometimes, different sources of data within the government contradict each other. When this happens, we have selected one to use consistently.

We will continue to update data. Government agencies release data at different times and with different frequencies. We will update as data becomes available and tell you what release of data we are using from each source.

We are expanding our database. While we include much significant data, we have not yet covered everything. We will continue to expand into different areas and plan to include more detailed state & local data in the future. The Penn Wharton Budget Model (PWBM) data store powers USAFacts and is responsible for expanding and maintaining the data used by USAFacts and for providing USAFacts with tools for curation of associated meta data and data relationships. Data series are categorized from an expanding list of data sources, and various conversions are often applied (e.g., inflation and population adjustments).

Revenue & Spending

Government revenue and expenditures are based on data from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Census Bureau, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Each is published annually, although due to collection times, state and local government data are not as current as federal data. Thus, when combining federal, state, and local revenues and expenditures, the most recent year shown is 2014, the most recent year for which all three sets of data are available. We show government spending through two different lenses:

Spending by segment: We recategorized several programs and functions to align them with four constitutional missions based on the preamble to the constitution:

  • Establish Justice and Ensure Domestic Tranquility
  • Provide for the Common Defense
  • Promote the General Welfare
  • Secure the Blessings of Liberty to Ourselves and Our Posterity

This approach is modeled after what businesses do for their own management accountability and shareholder reporting. Public companies present their businesses in segments – a logical framework for discussing the areas in which the they operate. We do the same for government. In using this constitutional framework, we have made judgements in how we group programs. The following are key examples:

  • Wealth and Savings: includes both Social Security and Medicare, both of which contribute to the financial well-being of retired Americans
  • Standard of Living and Aid to the Disadvantaged: includes programs such as Pell Grants, Medicaid, food stamps (SNAP), and unemployment insurance, among others, all of which either help people in poverty, act as safety nets, or guarantee a minimum standard of living to all Americans.
  • Sustainability and self-sufficiency: includes energy production and consumption, environmental protection, and agriculture, all of which are relevant to our longevity as a nation.

We do our best to match up Census and OMB categorizations, even though they are not always the same.

Spending by function: We also show spending by functional categories such as compensation for current and past employees, capital expenditures, transfer payments to individuals, interest on the debt, and payments for goods and services.

Methodology——– see for details:
https://static.usafacts.org/public/resources/Spending_by_Mission_USAFacts_Methodology.pdf

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Demos

Demos is a public policy organization working for an America where we all have an equal say in our democracy and an equal chance in our economy.

Our name means “the people.” It is the root word of democracy, and it reminds us that in America, the true source of our greatness is the diversity of our people. Our nation’s highest challenge is to create a democracy that truly empowers people of all backgrounds, so that we all have a say in setting the policies that shape opportunity and provide for our common future. To help America meet that challenge, Demos is working to reduce both political and economic inequality, deploying original research, advocacy, litigation, and strategic communications to create the America the people deserve.

Demos’ work is guided by three overarching commitments:

  1. Achieving true democracy by reducing the role of money in politics and guaranteeing the freedom to vote,
  2. Creating pathways to ensure a diverse, expanded middle class in a new, sustainable economy, and transforming the public narrative to elevate the values of community and racial equity.