Non-profit

American Compass

Website:

americancompass.org/

Location:

WASHINGTON, DC

Tax ID:

84-4031579

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Executive Director:

Oren Cass

Type:

Think tank

American Compass is a self-proclaimed conservative think tank which considers itself a part of the “conservative labor movement.” American Compass was founded by Oren Cass, a former advisor to now-U.S. Senator Mitt Romney’s (R-UT) presidential campaigns and a labor and environmental policy analyst. In the American Compass’s founding letter, Cass describes the organization’s ideology as a modern update on the “American system” of nineteenth-century American statesman Henry Clay predicated on national industrial policies, protectionism, pro-union labor policies, and domestic economic regulations intended to encourage the growth of domestic industry and increase wages in an equitable manner. [1]

Despite supporting many traditionally liberal economic policies, Cass and the American Compass claim explicitly reject free trade and free markets as conservative policies in the modern world. [2]

“Conservative Labor Movement”

American Compass claims to support a “conservative labor movement” based on reshoring foreign industrial supply chains, protectionism, and new economic and labor policies designed to boost wages for American workers. [3][4]

On September 6, 2020, American Compass published “Conservatives Should Ensure Workers a Seat at the Table,” a manifesto signed by numerous leading conservative figures, including U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), American Enterprise Institute fellow J.D. Vance, R Street Institute president Eli Lehrer, and former U.S. Attorney General and Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL). The manifesto argued that rather than oppose unions and encourage their steady decline, conservatives should seek “reform and reinvigoration” for unions and collective bargaining to enrich American workers and encourage non-governmental means of organizing labor through alternatives to the currently dominant National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). [5]

On September 17, Oren Cass’s followed the essay up with “America Needs A Conservative Labor Movement” in the Wall Street Journal, in which Cass claimed that labor unions were historically conservative institutions both in the United States and abroad. According to Cass, the current association of unions with progressive politics in the U.S. is an outgrowth of distortionary labor policies implemented by the government during the Great Depression. [6]

Criticism

Michael Watson of the Capital Research Center has criticized American Compass’s labor views for ignoring the entrenched progressive politics in American unions, not living up to conservative standards, and not proposing viable alternative models to current progressive union policies. Watson argues that the political mechanisms by which the American Compass proposes to strengthen unions are inherently anti-conservative and bad for the economy, including tariffs and intrusive regulations. Furthermore, Watson points out that labor unions have drifted even further left over the last few decades, with many electing socialists or avowed social justice-progressive leaders. [7][8]

Other Political Views

Trade

American Compass opposes free trade in favor of protectionist policies meant to promote domestic industry. According to Oren Cass, free trade cannot produce optimal growth for the United States while it economically competes with China, which uses protectionist policies to distort global markets for its benefit. [9]

American Compass endorsed the American Foundries Act, which if passed would permit the U.S. Department of Defense to provide subsidies to domestic microelectronics producers, and to establish a national industrial policy for microelectronics. U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) cited American Compass in his arguments in favor of the bill. [10]

Taxes

American Compass opposes further tax cuts in the US. According to Cass, tax cuts over the last few decades have failed to produce capital growth and have increased income inequality. Cass has criticized conservatives for prioritizing tax cuts when the US faces more pressing issues, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. [11]

Income Inequality

American Compass considers income inequality a threat to social stability and a factor for policy implementation. Cass has argued that labor unions should be supported partially to spread the gains of economic prosperity to reduce income inequality. [12]

Corporations

American Compass supports increased regulations on corporations, particularly banks. The organization opposes what it calls the “financialization of America,” or the supposed dominance of the financial industry over the rest of the economy. [13]

Leadership

The founder and executive director of American Compass is Oren Cass, a conservative political commentator. After graduating from Williams College, Cass worked as an associate at Bain and Company, the management consulting firm formerly run by U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT). While at Bain, Cass was recruited to work on Romney’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign. Afterward, Cass enrolled at Harvard Law School to learn more about public policy. In 2011, in-between his second and third years of law school, Cass again worked for Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, eventually becoming Romney’s domestic-policy director. [14]

After Romney’s second loss, Cass returned to Bain as a manager. On the side, he wrote labor and environmental policy articles for the right-of-center National Review. In 2015, Cass left Bain to work for the right-of-center Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. [15] During the Republican presidential primaries in 2015, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) credited Cass for inspiring his poverty-relief policies. [16]

In 2018, Cass published The Once and Future Worker: A Vision for the Renewal of Work in America, which argued that the basis of American prosperity should be found on strong labor regulations. The work would serve as the ideological basis for American Compass. [17]

References

  1. Cass, Oren. “Founder’s Letter.” American Compass. Accessed December 21, 2020. https://americancompass.org/annual-report-2020/ ^
  2. Cass, Oren. “Founder’s Letter.” American Compass. Accessed December 21, 2020. https://americancompass.org/annual-report-2020/ ^
  3. Cass, Oren. “Founder’s Letter.” American Compass. Accessed December 21, 2020. https://americancompass.org/annual-report-2020/ ^
  4. Cass, Oren. “American Needs a Conservative Labor Movement.” Wall Street Journal. September 17, 2020. Accessed December 21, 2020. https://www.wsj.com/articles/america-needs-a-conservative-labor-movement-11600379608. ^
  5. “Conservatives Should Ensure Workers A Seat At the Table.” American Compass. September 6, 2020. Accessed December 21, 2020. https://americancompass.org/essays/conservatives-should-ensure-workers-a-seat-at-the-table/. ^
  6. Cass, Oren. “American Needs a Conservative Labor Movement.” Wall Street Journal. September 17, 2020. Accessed December 21, 2020. https://www.wsj.com/articles/america-needs-a-conservative-labor-movement-11600379608. ^
  7. “Watson, Michael. “”General Strike” Call Illustrates Labor Conservatives’ Inopportune Timing.” Capital Research Center. September 11, 2020. Accessed December 21, 2020. https://capitalresearch.org/article/general-strike-call-illustrates-labor-conservatives-inopportune-timing/. ^
  8. Watson, Michael. “Labor Conservatives’ Underpants Gnomes.” Capital Research Center. September 10, 2020. Accessed December 21, 2020. https://capitalresearch.org/article/labor-conservatives-underpants-gnomes/. ^
  9. Cass, Oren. “Founder’s Letter.” American Compass. Accessed December 21, 2020. https://americancompass.org/annual-report-2020/ ^
  10. Cass, Oren. “Changing the Debate.” American Compass. Accessed December 21, 2020. https://americancompass.org/annual-report-2020/ ^
  11. Cass, Oren. “Founder’s Letter.” American Compass. Accessed December 21, 2020. https://americancompass.org/annual-report-2020/ ^
  12. “Conservatives Should Ensure Workers A Seat At the Table.” American Compass. September 6, 2020. Accessed December 21, 2020. https://americancompass.org/essays/conservatives-should-ensure-workers-a-seat-at-the-table/. ^
  13. “Financial Capitalism.” American Compass. Accessed December 21, 2020. https://americancompass.org/financial-capitalism/. ^
  14. Willick, Jason. “Conservatives and the Politics of Work.” Wall Street Journal. November 23, 2018. Accessed December 21, 2020. https://www.wsj.com/articles/conservatives-and-the-politics-of-work-1543014553. ^
  15. Willick, Jason. “Conservatives and the Politics of Work.” Wall Street Journal. November 23, 2018. Accessed December 21, 2020. https://www.wsj.com/articles/conservatives-and-the-politics-of-work-1543014553. ^
  16. “Oren Cass.” Politico. Accessed December 21, 2020. https://www.politico.com/magazine/politico50/2015/oren-cass. ^
  17. “The Once and Future Worker: A Vision for the Renewal of Work in America.” Amazon. Accessed December 21, 2020. https://www.amazon.com/Once-Future-Worker-Renewal-America-ebook/dp/B079617VFZ. ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: January 1, 2020

  • Available Filings

    No filings available.

    American Compass

    300 INDEPENDENCE AVE SE
    WASHINGTON, DC 20003-1021