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 organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council, who are at 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. The are heavily funded by corporations and lobbyists, and not by member contributions. While mounting evidence shows that their decidedly pro corporate "model legislation" continues to be adopted in Republican controlled states.
ALEC, who 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.
So if you're a state 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.
Through the work of organizations like ALEC and National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) the goal 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, and presumably harmoniously to effect these ‘necessary’ 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. These bills do not represent the interests of most Americans.
In 2010 Republicans picked up more than 700 state seats and control of 25 state legislatures. According to GOP strategists the money and power of public-employee unions were the reason 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.
Top 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 Conservative organization, the Club for Growth, also backed by the billionaire Koch brother’s has an ingenious strategy, only funding candidates who agree to sign pledges not to raise taxes and to oppose regulations of any kind, particularly those dealing with environmental and energy regulation.
In return, they're given enough funds to swamp reasonable candidates on either side of the ailse 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. This is a mafia like activity being conducted across state lines, and in a just world would be investigated under existing RICO statutes.
Republicans are not concerned about jobs, or even debt. What they want is a weak captive government, despising practically everything it does, except promoting business interests, and would have us return to an era when the Robber Barons ruled and local and Federal governments had to subsist off excise (whiskey) taxes.
Just as Republicans at the state level, particularly their take no prisoners Tea Party brethren are increasingly advocating for “States Rights,” there is a similar movement within their ranks promoting “local control” especially of school boards. And if you wade deep enough into this muck, you will find an offshoot of ALEC – The American Legislative Exchange Council called the American City County Exchange (ACCE) somewhere at the bottom of the ooze.
The question readers of the Central Virginian should be asking themselves, how much longer do they intend to allow Republicans to legislatively codify their masters pursuit of privatizing their profits, while socializing their losses on their backs?
Editor's note: This piece originally appeared in the April 4th, 2011 edition of the Central Virginian, and as my intellectual property, has been modified exclusively for this blog, and I welcome other progressive blogs, websites and Facebook pages to distribute it as they see fit.