No Labels

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No Labels
Logo of No Labels.png
Motto Stop fighting, start fixing.
Formation December 13, 2010 (public launch)
Type Political
Legal status 501(c)(4)
Headquarters Washington, D.C., U.S.
Region served
United States
Nancy Jacobson
Mark McKinnon
Bill Galston
National Leaders
Jon Huntsman (R),
Joe Lieberman (D)

No Labels is an American political organization based in the United States, composed of Republicans, Democrats, and independents, whose mission is to "usher in a new era of focused problem solving in American politics."[1] The group is registered as a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization.[2][3]

History and Mission[edit]

No Labels describes itself as an alliance of Republicans, Democrats, and independents. It started as a grassroots movement made up of citizens from across the political spectrum.[4] Its mission is "to usher in a new era of focused problem solving in American politics."[1] No Labels says it does this in three ways: organizing citizens across America, providing a space for leaders who want to solve problems to convene and pushing for common sense reforms to make government work.[5] No Labels maintains that it is not an attempt to start a third party.[6] It also asserts that it is not a centrist movement. Jon Huntsman has said, "It’s not about centrism, it’s about a new attitude toward the realities we face. It’s about finding Democrats and Republicans who will check their egos at the door.”[7]

No Labels was founded by veteran Democratic fundraiser[8] Nancy Jacobson, Republican political adviser Mark McKinnon, and former U.S. Comptroller David Walker, among others. The inaugural meeting of No Labels was held in 2010 at a home in Houston, Texas,[3] and the organization was officially launched six months later in New York City.[3][9] Over 1,000 people representing all 50 states gathered at the launch conference.[10] The event featured a lineup of speakers and panelists consisting of elected officials, journalists, and business leaders, including Mayors Michael Bloomberg and Antonio Villaraigosa; Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Joe Lieberman, Evan Bayh, and Joe Manchin; Reps. Bob Inglis and Mike Castle; former Rep. Tom Davis; Gov. Charlie Crist; Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado; David Brooks; Joe Scarborough; Mika Brzezinski; and David Gergen.[4][11][12][13] As of November 2010, No Labels had raised over $1 million.[14] As a 501(c)4 organization, No Labels is not required to publicly release the names of its contributors. However, the Wall Street Journal has reported that three of the group's donors are Andrew Tisch, Dave Morin, and Ron Shaich (founder and CEO of Panera Bread and former Treasurer of the Massachusetts Democratic Party).

Conservative and libertarian media outlets consider No Labels to be a movement defined by distaste for the aesthetics of Republicans who came to power in the United States House of Representatives and State legislatures in 2010, and as a vehicle for Democrats who register as Independents, "Republicans in Name Only" (RINOs) who lose Republican primaries, and Nanny State proponents from all political parties.[15][16][17][18][19]

Make Congress Work[edit]

On Tuesday, December 13, 2011,[20] No Labels released a twelve-point action plan entitled Make Congress Work! during an event in the United States Capitol to a group of 400 activists and volunteers. The goal of the plan is to break congressional gridlock by implementing reforms to the legislative process. The reforms include:

  1. Automatic pay docking for Congress if the federal budget is not passed on time
  2. An up-or-down vote on all presidential appointments within 90 days of their nomination
  3. Changing the rules of the filibuster so as to make the process more difficult to accomplish (by having filibustering senators stand on the floor and speak as long as they can), as well as elimination of filibusters of motions to open debate.
  4. Anonymous discharge petitions
  5. A five-day workweek in Congress
  6. Institution of Question Time between Congress and the President
  7. An annual fiscal report delivered to a joint session of Congress, after which everyone present must sign the report
  8. A code of conduct banning the taking of pledges from special interest groups
  9. Bipartisan monthly gatherings to be held off-the-record.
  10. The establishment of bipartisan seating
  11. The establishment of a Bipartisan Leadership Council to be made up of the Speaker of the House, the president pro tempore, and Majority and Minority leaders of both houses, and two slots per house for other members to be decided using a lottery
  12. The banning of incumbents taking part in negative campaigns against other incumbents [21]

One of the reforms - the up-or-down vote within 90 days for all presidential appointments, was included a month later in Barack Obama's 2012 State of the Union Address.[22][23]

Make the Presidency Work

On July 13, 2012, No Labels released a follow-up action plan to Make Congress Work! entitled Make the Presidency Work!, which included proposals for structural reforms to the presidency.[24] The reforms include:

  1. Regular news conferences for the president
  2. Fast-track legislative authority on a set number of priorities that there is bipartisan agreement on
  3. Making the political parties pay for presidential fundraising
  4. Expedited recission authority
  5. Reducing the number of presidential appointees subject to Senate confirmation
  6. Identifying a slate of critical appointees who would receive expedited consideration and confirmation
  7. An up-or-down vote on all presidential appointees within 90 days of their nomination
  8. Institution of Question Time between the president and Congress
  9. A return to the Reorganization Act of 1939 to make it easier for the president to reorganize the executive branch
  10. An annual fiscal report delivered to a joint session of Congress, after which everyone present must sign the report
  11. Regular meetings between the president and congressional leadership

Make America Work[edit]

In December 2012, No Labels released a booklet called Make America Work! which details what they refer to as "leadership principles" for lawmakers to follow. There are five listed.

  1. Tell the truth
  2. Work together
  3. Govern for the future
  4. Put the country first
  5. Take responsibility [25]

Make Government Work[edit]

On July 18, 2013, No Labels unveiled an action plan entitled Make Government Work! [26] which includes nine legislative ideas their coalition in Congress is working to pass. The ideas include:

  1. No Budget, No Pay: If Congress cannot pass a budget, members should not get paid.
  2. Take the time, save the dime: Move to a two-year budgeting process
  3. Don’t Duplicate, Consolidate: Get rid of duplicate agencies and programs identified in 2013 by the Government Accountability Office.
  4. Buy Smarter and Save: Enforce strategic sourcing so that separate divisions within a single federal agency do not make independent contracts for common items.
  5. No Adding, No Padding: Stop assuming automatic year-to-year spending increases in agency budgets.
  6. 21st Century Healthcare for Heroes: Merge the electronic health records of the Department of Defense with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  7. Stay in Place, Cut the Waste: Cut 50 percent of agency travel and replace it with videoconferencing.
  8. Wasted Energy, Wasted Dollars: Reduce energy waste in federal buildings by incentivizing private companies to identify energy savings.
  9. Plan for Efficient and Effective Government: Create a new Commission for Government Transformation.

The Problem Solvers in Congress announced this plan at a messaging event in Upper Senate Park on Capitol Hill, where they stood together as a group of 70 to show the coalition’s dedication to problem solving.[27][28]

Language from the 21st Century Healthcare for Heroes bill was adopted into the NDAA bill that was passed and signed by the president in December 2013.

National Strategic Agenda[edit]

Following a nationwide survey conducted in the fall of 2013, No Labels began to develop its National Strategic Agenda. In keeping with No Labels' goal of problem solving and compromise in government, the purpose of the Agenda is to serve as a mutually agreed-upon road map for the country.

Citing the former across-the-aisle pairings of Reagan-O'Neill and Clinton-Gingrich, No Labels has promoted the Agenda as a set of bipartisan goals - to be predetermined and then systematically met - for the next two decades. Chief among these goals are the four principal tenets of the National Strategic Agenda:

  1. Create 25 million jobs over the next 10 years
  2. Balance the federal budget by 2030
  3. Secure Social Security and Medicare for another 75 years
  4. Make America energy secure by 2024

No Labels' state goal is for the country's next president - regardless of political affiliation - to adopt the National Strategic Agenda and pledge to work with both parties to make government work.[29][30]


National leaders[edit]

No Labels announced on January 3, 2013 that Jon Huntsman and Joe Manchin would become No Labels' new national leaders and would debut as such on January 14, 2013 at their Meeting to Make America Work.[31] Since 10 November 10, 2014 former U.S. Senator and Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) will replace U.S. SenatorJoe Manchin (D-WV)as Democrat co-chairman.


The Washington Post said, "Although No Labels bills itself as a citizens' movement, its leaders are veterans of campaign politics."[32] No Labels was founded by veteran Democratic fundraiser[8] Nancy Jacobson and Republican political adviser Mark McKinnon. Other co-founders include former U.S. Comptroller David Walker; President of the Henry W. Grady Health System Foundation Lisa Borders; CNN contributor John Avlon; former Representatives Tom Davis and Mickey Edwards; Brookings Institution scholar William Galston; political operative Kiki McLean; former Kentucky State Treasurer Jonathan Miller; former Chief of Staff to Senator Joe Lieberman, Clarine Nardi Riddle; and Panera Bread CEO Ron Shaich.


Problem solvers[edit]

The No Labels Problem Solver Seal

In January 2013, No Labels announced a new group of 25 members of Congress that it calls "problem solvers."[33] It says that these problem solvers have committed to meeting regularly and building trust across the aisle.[5] In February 2013, the group unveiled 20 more members of the group for a total of 45.[34] With the addition of Representative Sean Patrick Maloney on March 8, 2013, the total reached 50 Representatives, according to No Labels.[35] As of June 1, 2013, the organization reached its year end goal of 70 members of Congress.

Report on town hall meetings[edit]

In August 2011, No Labels issued a report which detailed the members of Congress that would be holding a town hall during the August recess. The initial report concluded that only 44% of all Congresspeople would be holding such meetings during the recess. Subsequent to the report's release, No Labels called on Congress to skip their recess and remain in Washington to complete the yearly federal budget.[36] They also called on the Super Committee to begin their work immediately.[37] Several members of Congress criticized the report as inaccurate. No Labels stood by their reporting, but adjusted the results to include meetings that had been scheduled after their research had been completed.[38]

Telephone town halls[edit]

In September 2011, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz held a national town hall meeting over the phone and internet with the support of No Labels. Schultz used the call as part of his Upward Spiral campaign, which attempts to convince CEOs and business leaders to pledge to withhold political contributions until the Washington gridlock has ceased, and to hire more workers. No Labels has held multiple town hall calls since, each time with a politician who takes questions from the people on the call. The speakers on past calls have included Mitch Daniels,[39] Evan Bayh,[40] George Voinovich,[41] and Jon Huntsman.[42]

Bipartisan seating[edit]

In January 2012, No Labels put its weight behind Mark Udall's proposal to have Congress do bipartisan seating at the State of The Union. They kept track of data on the members of Congress who agreed to sit in a bipartisan fashion on their website.[43] By the time of the address, they say that 208 members agreed to sit with a member of the opposite party.[23]

No Budget, No Pay Hearing[edit]

At the unveiling of the Make Congress Work! action plan, Senator Dean Heller and Representative Jim Cooper announced that they would introduce legislation for one of the proposals - barring legislators from receiving a salary should they fail to pass a budget resolution and all appropriation bills before October 1, the beginning of the upcoming fiscal year.[44] The bills were entitled the No Budget, No Pay Act. No Labels then proceeded to run a campaign in favor of the legislation.[45] On March 14, 2012, a hearing was held in front of the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, entitled "Raising the Bar for Congress: Reform Proposals for the 21st Century" on the particular subject of the No Budget, No Pay Act. No Labels' witnesses also discussed filibuster reform, the up-or-down-in-90-days proposal, and having a financial report to Congress.[46] In addition, Senator Johnny Isakson discussed a proposal of his own for biennial budgeting.[47]

Meeting to Make America Work[edit]

On January 14, 2013, No Labels held the Meeting to Make America Work in New York City. They unveiled a congressional group of "problem solvers," as they call them, who have agreed to meet together in order to build trust across the aisle. Speakers included Cory Booker, Dean Heller, Angus King, Jon Huntsman, and Joe Manchin. More than 1,300 citizens from across the country attended the event, and it was covered by The Daily Beast,[48] The Washington Post,[49] The New York Times,[50] The Wall Street Journal,[51] Associated Press, Yahoo! News[52] and more.

Rally to Make Government Work[edit]

On July 18, 2013, No Labels hosted a “Rally to Make Government Work!” in Upper Senate Park on Capitol Hill. The event featured 70 members of Congress—Democrats and Republicans—who each spoke for 15 seconds to talk about why they are No Labels “Problem Solvers.”[27][28]

National Ideas Meeting[edit]

On September 17, 2014 No Labels convened the National Ideas Meeting at the United States Institute for Peace in Washington, D.C. The meeting, which opened with remarks from No Labels Co-Chairs Gov. Jon Huntsman (R-UT) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), featured a bipartisan group of over a dozen members of Congress, more than 50 state and local leaders, and a handful of other high-profile speakers.

The program called for three panel discussions to address the implementation and importance of the No Labels National Strategic Agenda. The morning kicked off with a panel of members of Congress moderated by CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash. Focus then moved to the state and local relevance, as Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA) moderated a panel consisting of state and local elected officials from across the country. Rounding off the afternoon was a panel moderated by former Meet the Press host David Gregory.

The National Ideas Meeting began a year of focus on the National Strategic Agenda, as No Labels worked with citizens and lawmakers to formulate common goals for America’s future.[53]

Meeting to get our Leaders to Stop Fighting and Start Fixing[edit]

On October 18, 2014, No Labels gathered more than 200 citizens at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics in Manchester, New Hampshire to discuss the importance of a National Strategic Agenda, the upcoming presidential election in 2016 and how to get more involved. The panel included two congressional members aligned with No Labels, U.S. Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT) and Charlie Dent (R-PA).[54]

National Strategic Agenda Hearing[edit]

On June 17, 2015 No Labels’ National Strategic Agenda will be heard in front of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs chaired by Sen. Ron Johnson. Co-Chairs Gov. Jon Huntsman and Sen. Joe Lieberman will be testifying before the committee to encourage the establishment of a new framework for decision making, a National Strategic Agenda.

National Problem Solver Convention[edit]

On October 12, 2015 in Manchester, New Hampshire, No Labels will begin the 2016 election cycle by holding its first National Problem Solver Convention. The event, held at the Radisson Hotel, will feature speakers such as No Labels Co-Chairs Gov. Jon Huntsman (R-UT) and Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT), congressional problem solvers, and policy experts, as well as other names relevant to American politics and industry.

The event will also be attended by New Hampshire citizens, representatives from each of No Labels’ 100 college and university satellite chapters, and a number of 2016 presidential candidates.

The focus of the event will be No Labels’ National Strategic Agenda—and its role in the 2016 primaries and general election. Using the convention to spread its problem-solving ethic to both media outlets and candidates, themselves, No Labels plans to promote the Agenda and establish its relevance to the election cycle. While big-name speakers will play a key part in validating No Labels’ message, the main draw—specifically for presidential hopefuls—will be the collection of citizens and college students gathered at the convention. Through this grassroots support in the first primary, No Labels intends to show that it is a movement backed by Americans throughout the country, all of whom are committed to promoting compromise and demanding bipartisanship from the next presidential administration and Congress.

In the weeks following the convention, No Labels will award its Problem Solver Seal of Approval to presidential candidates of both parties who have proven themselves dedicated to bipartisanship, compromise, and productivity in Washington.[55]


No Labels' Make Congress Work campaign got a largely positive reception,[20][56][57] with Ezra Klein writing, "[No Labels] released an agenda that did the impossible: proposed a plausible path for moving in that most elusive direction: forward. They did it, unexpectedly, by refusing to suggest that they themselves knew which direction ultimately is forward. The group’s essential insight is that the American political system has stopped working for the left and the right -- not to mention for the middle, wherever that may be."[58]

No Labels anthem[edit]

Akon wrote an anthem for No Labels in 2010 after hearing about the organization from Lisa Borders. The song was later covered by Deborah Cox in 2012. Both versions are often played at No Labels events and in their media.[59]

Signage controversy[edit]

At the National Founders' Meeting on December 13, 2010, signage was displayed on stage featuring red and blue animal artwork. The same artwork was featured on the No Labels homepage and T-shirts offered for sale. All of the signage had been produced by the New York advertisement agency Fly Communications. Later that day, it was noted that the artwork was nearly an identical copy of a design created by Thomas Porostocky in 2005 for the website, an organization which intends to spread a similar message to that of No Labels. The design was also featured in the book The Design of Dissent by Milton Glaser.[60][61] Fly Communications stated that the similarities in designs stemmed from the fact that he and Porostocky has both utilized free clip-art animal shapes. A few hours later Fly Communications admitted that it had copied Porostocky's design entirely, apologized to Porostocky, and accepted responsibility for unauthorized use of his design.[62]


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External links[edit]