ED052396a: The March for Big Government
On June 1, 1996, national attention will focus on the "Stand for
Children" march on the Mall in Washington, D.C. The theme of this
march, ostensibly, is something that all Americans can support: "a
day ... to celebrate children and those who struggle every day to
Organizers of the "Stand for Children" claim between 200,000 and
1 million people will gather at the Lincoln Memorial "in a
non-partisan call to action." Unfortunately, the principal "action"
likely to be called for is an increase in federal spending. The
reason: More than 100 of the sponsoring organizations are direct
federal grant recipients receiving more than $392 million annually.
The actual figure is assuredly higher, since that total excludes
grants to many affiliate organization as well as all funds received
from state or local governments.
A slick public relations campaign has generated dozens of news
stories hailing the Stand's call "to affirm our responsibility as
families, individuals, communities, and as a national community for
improving the quality of life of children." But an examination of
organizations endorsing the event makes it clear that the Stand for
Children is not an independent, pro-children march. It is a stand
for government dependency and ought to be dubbed "The March For Big
- The event is being convened by the Children's Defense Fund
(CDF) -- an organization once chaired by Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The president of the CDF, Marian Wright Edelman, is a chief
opponent of the 104th Congress' efforts to reform welfare. In 1973,
Edelman admitted that because she no longer could stir up interest
in government programs by speaking of "poor people," she would
emphasize children. "Children," after all, "might be a very
effective way to broaden the base of change."
- Lobbyists appear to be a major constituency of the Stand for
Children. Lobbying groups that push for greater spending on federal
programs already costing more than $7 billion annually have
endorsed the march. Among these are the National and Community
Service Coalition (chief lobbyist for President Clinton's $400
million national service boondoggle, AmeriCorps), the National Head
Start Center (lobbyist for the $2.2 billion Head Start program),
and the National Association of WIC Directors (The Special
Supplement Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children, a $3.6
billion federal program in fiscal year 1995). Families USA, a key
lobbying organization for Bill Clinton's failed big-government
health-care plan, is also a march endorser.
- At least 20 national organizations representing government
employees, such as the U.S. Conference of City Human Services
Officials and the National Association of School Psychologists,
also will be participating in the march.
- The AFL-CIO, which is spending $35 million in mandatory union
dues to defeat conservative members of Congress this year, is
actively promoting the march. Thirty-three of its affiliated unions
are serving as national endorsing organizations for the Stand for
Children. At this past February's meeting of the AFL-CIO Executive
Committee, when union leaders decided to launch their efforts to
"take back the Congress" (take it back for whom?), two guests were
invited to speak: one was Marian Wright Edelman, who spoke about
the Stand for Children rally. Obviously, she got what she was
- At least 50 liberal organizations with no special focus on
children, including the Americans for Democratic Action, the Gay
and Lesbian Victory Fund, Greenpeace, the National Rainbow
Coalition, and Zero Population Growth, are co-sponsors of the
- As if to remove all doubt about the government-oriented nature
of this event, one federal agency has even gotten into the act
directly. The Agriculture Department's $932 million Cooperative
State Research, Education and Extension Service has signed on as a
national endorser of the Stand For Children under the guise of its
outreach program, Families 4H and Nutrition. Also, the Freddie Mac
Foundation, an arm of the federally chartered Freddie Mac Corp.,
has signed on to the march.
In short, the Stand For Children is yet another a venue for
groups that live off the taxpayer to lobby for more money. It is
common practice for such organizations to use sympathetic symbols
-- yes, even children -- as a "cloaking device" for efforts to
expand big government and the welfare state. The fact that few
Americans can believe anyone would be so cynical only makes the
"cloaking" that much easier. In this case, they want to present
their rally as a spontaneous, independent, grassroots expression of
altruism towards America's youth.
Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.
Note: Kenneth Weinstein is former director of the Government
Reform Project at The Heritage Foundation, a
Washington-based public policy research institute.