(CNSNews.com) – Andy Stern, the former head of the Service Employees International Union who now sits on President Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, said the United States needs an economic plan that does not include “worshipping” the free market.
“America needs a 21st century economic plan because we now know the market-worshipping, privatizing, de-regulating, dehumanizing American financial plan has failed and should never be revived, worshipping the market again,” Stern said in remarks at the annual conference of the liberal activist group Campaign for America’s Future in Washington on Monday.
“It has failed America and everyone that works here,” Stern said.
Stern said the changes that Obama and Democrats in Congress have made are nothing short of a “revolution” that will move the American economy from national to international.
"This not our father’s or our grandfather’s economy," Stern said. "We’re as far today from the New Deal as the New Deal was from the Civil War. And we cannot drive into the future looking in the rear view mirror."
He said the progressive movement must build on the past and look to the future as the economy is transformed "from a manufacturing base, to a service, finance, knowledge, green, Internet, and bio-science economy."
“This revolution’s going to only take 30 years,” Stern said. “No single generation of people have ever witnessed this much change in a single lifetime.
“American people sense the change,” Stern said. “They know something is different.
“And they, like us, I think, are in search of a new pathway forward,” Stern said. “And as we’ve witnessed now in the absence of a simple and realistic way forward, people – even us – sometimes resist the future or try to turn back the clock to days that are now long gone.
Joining Stern on a panel that opened the conference was Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Web site, who called for people to “shrink the big banks” by withdrawing their money; and Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, CEO of the "social justice" environmental activist group Green for All.
Ellis-Lamkins told the crowd how she responded to conservative media personality Glenn Beck’s charge that groups like Green for All have an agenda to change the country’s direction.
“I said, ‘Absolutely we have a plot to take over this country,” Ellis-Lamkins said.
The Campaign for America’s Future describes itself as “the strategy center for the progressive movement.”
“Our goal is to forge the enduring progressive majority needed to realize the America of shared prosperity and equal opportunity that our country was meant to be,” the group’s Web site states.
The organization’s board includes President Eli Pariser of Moveon.org and Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP Washington Bureau.
Sponsors and partners for this year’s “America’s Future Now” conference include the National Education Foundation (NEA) and the AFL-CIO.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is scheduled to speak at the conference on Tuesday and Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) on Wednesday.