Blast from the Past; April 7th, 2011
Blast from the Past; April 7th, 2011
Confused about what's happening around the country? — Don't be.
Take a closer look at the actions of groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council, the center of a well-developed process supported by wealthy oligarchs like the Koch brothers, and hundreds of corporations and business associations shaping legislation in state legislatures across the country.
The definitely aren't the bipartisan non-profit 501 (C) (4) association for like minded state legislators they claim to be. They are heavily funded by corporations and lobbyists, and not member contributions. And mounting evidence shows that their decidedly pro corporate "model legislation" continues to be adopted in Republican controlled states.
ALEC, is obliged by tax law to work for charitable — not private — purposes, works by exploiting a weakness in most states legislative process. Only seven states have full-time state legislatures; six convene every other year; and in 38 states, legislators have no paid staff.
If you're a politician with limited time and resources, ALEC conveniently steps in to provide one-stop boilerplate solutions for your legislative needs. This year, thousands of bills will be considered by the 50 state legislatures, and ~ ¼ of them will become law. Collectively, they will affect the lives of millions of Americans.
The goal of organizations like ALEC and National Conference of State Legislatures NCSL is to standardize –– through legislation –– interlocking laws aligned at the federal, state, and local level which benefit their sponsors. And conservative Republicans have been working behind the scenes effecting these changes.
At the state level, ALEC is the designated hitter for corporate interests. During the 2009/10 legislative session they helped to develop 826 state bills, with 115 of them becoming law, bills which do not remotely represent the interests of most Americans.
In 2010 Republicans picked up more than 700 state seats and took control of 25 state legislatures. According to GOP strategists the money and power of public-employee unions were why they only took 12 governorships vs. 20. “We are never going to win most of these states until we can do something about those unions," said one key operative.
Conservatives are determined to break union-to-Democrat-to-union power as they are doing in Wisconsin. According to Edwin Bender, executive director of the National Institute on Money in State Politics, "Corporations can implement their agendas very effectively using ALEC.”
Another group, also backed by the billionaire Koch brother’s, Club for Growth, strategy is to only funding candidates who agree to sign pledges not to raise taxes and to oppose regulations of any kind, particularly those dealing with environment and energy.
In return, enough funds to swamp reasonable candidates in local state and congressional elections. Over the past decade, this has resulted in a dramatic ultra conservative shift within the Republican Party to the point where even Reagan wouldn't recognize it.
Through organizations like ALEC, NCSL, Club for Growth and dark money super PAC’s, Republicans are systematically engaging in a coordinated effort across state lines to turn this country at every level legally and permanently conservative. A mafia like activity conducted across state lines which in a just world would be investigated under RICO statutes.
Republicans have never been concerned about jobs, or even debt. What they really want is a weak captive government, despising everything it does, except when it comes to promoting business interests, returning us to when Robber Barons ruled and local and Federal governments lived off excise (whiskey) taxes.
Thanks to efforts conducted in secret by deep pocketed groups; Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and their recent county/city level spin-off the American City County Exchange ACCE determined to make permanent legislative changes in their sponsors favor at every level, and are currently on the cusp of making their dreams a dystopian reality for all of us.
My question for the readers of the Central Virginian is why do they continue to let Republicans to privatize the profits, while socializing the losses on their backs?
Editor's note: This piece originally appeared in the April 7th, 2011 edition of the Central Virginian, and has been modified for this blog. I welcome other blogs, websites and Facebook pages to distribute it as they see fit.