If you want transparency in government and don't want Big Business netting all your tax dollars, you should oppose ALEC.

The corporate-funded front group the American Legislation Exchange Council (ALEC) is panicking. After a dozen corporations and major foundations have left the group in recent days, ALEC is making a concerted effort to reach out to right-wing bloggers to come to its defense.

But conservatives should not be fooled. While ALEC does promote some conservative causes, it primarily exists to serve its corporate donors. It is not of the right, left, or center — it stands for an America where Big Business can, literally, write our laws. Here’s a rundown of four reasons why conservatives should oppose ALEC:

1. Its Collusion With The Drug Industry And Big Government Costs Americans $8 Billion A Year: Truly conservative, free-market oriented groups like the Cato Institute have long-advocated for allowing drug reimportation into the United States, which could save taxpayers and consumers $80 billion over ten years. After all, it’s un-conservative for the government to tell you you cannot buy prescription drugs from Canada or any other country. But ALEC opposes drug re-importation, and backs up using the power of the federal government to erect a protectionist barrier that makes American prescription drugs artificially more expensive. Why? Because ALEC is financed by the pharmaceutical industry.

2. It Wants State Legislatures To Dictate Laws To Local Governments: One of the organizing principles behind modern conservatism is that local governments and communities should have the final say over their own lives. But ALEC doesn’t believe that localities should get to use their taxpayer dollars in ways that they see fit. When Atlanta, Georgia, decided that it would raise the wages of the workers it was hiring with its city money, the state legislature passed a law to ban the city from using its own tax dollars to pay living wages to contractors. That law was based off of an ALEC model bill. ALEC also worked to undermine municipalities that decided to create their own municipal broadband systems by getting state legislators to pass onerous restrictions on cities.  While some may debate the wisdom of policies like a living wage and municipal broadband, it is decidedly un-conservative for a state legislature to not allow local governments to debate these issues and decide for themselves whether they want to enact these laws.

3. ALEC Supports Obama’s Extensive Federal Involvement In Our Schools: ALEC says it stands for “limited government,” but it discards this conservative principle when it comes to aspects of our nation’s schools. In ALEC’s 17th edition of its “Report Card On American Education,” it gushes praise on President Obama’s “Race To The Top” (RTTT)  program, which uses billions of dollars of taxpayer money to incentivize local school districts to structure their schools the way that the federal government wants them to. The conservative Heartland Institute has blasted Race To The Top for coercing school districts into adopting “administration-favored policies.” ALEC, however, called RTTT a “sweeping, symbolic victory for reforms across the country.” ALEC has in the past taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from powerful pro-RTTT foundations like the Gates Foundation (which recently withdrew its support).

4. Because Transparency Is A Conservative Value: ALEC avoids ever registering itself as a lobbying group, and yet it hosts fancy events where lawmakers meet in private with corporate lobbyists to craft legislation out of the public eye. My colleague Lee Fang was kicked out of one of these meetings, and even lawmakers have been ejected. Although ALEC passes off corporate-written model bills to legislators, it does not openly brand the legislation it gets passed into law. The only way for the general public to really know that a bill introduced into a legislature is definitely from ALEC is when, like in Florida, a legislator accidentally leaves the organization’s mission statement on an introduced bill. The Founding Fathers believed in transparency and an open debate, but ALEC doesn’t.

There are certainly areas of agreement between conservatives and ALEC’s policy agenda. But the group is fundamentally not about political ideology. It exists to do the bidding of its donors, especially Big Business, which, like in the case of prescription drugs, sometimes demands the protection of Big Government to harm American consumers. Conservatives should be wary of this organization and the outreach it is conducting to them. ALEC is not on your side.

 

Filed under: Grassroots

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alan-Lunn/637813505 Alan Lunn

    Recently, Sam Brownback’s government in Kansas urged conservatives to pledge to get behind the “leadership” and walk in lock-step together to gut local government and set up the Koch-head initiatives of the extremist right folks that rode into power on the coattails of Citizens United in 2010. Today there was a breath of fresh air from the moderates and blue dogs who, according to the paper, are in “revolt” against the new dictators. If the lemmings on the far-right get their way, we’ll have a monarchy in Kansas fueled by money from two of the world’s richest billionaires who are seeking to own the GOP and buy the U.S. government. They want to make it over in their own image, apparently, which would be a paranoid John Birch Society States of America. That might mean extreme austerity for a few years until they “starve the beast” of government and “privatize” everything, turning this country back to a feudal model. It is that extremist and fundamentalist vision that generates the recent spate of comments calling the progressives “card-carrying communists.” This trend can’t end soon enough.

  • http://mywikibiz.com/Directory:Jon_Awbrey Jon Awbrey

    The very epitome of Big Government intervening in local communities and personal liberties is now occurring in Michigan, where bills coming out of ALEC and Mackinac Center policy shops have set up Emergency Manager Powers that allow the State Executive to dismiss local governments, void contracts, and even disincorporate whole cities and townships.

  • Avaritia

    CONservatives opposing anything that is dishonest, immoral, wrong, deceitful, hateful…ha ha ha. Yeah, that’ll be the day!

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