Transcript: Who elected ALEC? 3 February '12
Who elected ALEC?
I mean, really - have you ever seen a ballot that looks like this? You know, Barack Obama, Newt Gingrich, ALEC?
This is a representative democratic republic - here, the United States - or at least it's supposed to be - it's a government where we the people elect legislators to represent OUR interests.
And a corporatocracy? That's a government where the legislators are owned or run by corporations.
And there’s an organization out there - it's call the American Legislative Exchange Council - or ALEC - that appears to be taking America down the road toward corporatocracy.
A few times a year, ALEC gathers together lawmakers, corporate CEOs, and lobbyists all together in the same high-end resort-hotel ballrooms to present to the elected officials model legislation written by the lawyers of ALEC and voted on by the corporations.
If the corporations approve, that legislation then gets carried back to the state legislatures - or even the US Congress - by the obedient lawmakers in attendance, who submit it as new laws.
And it’s long been speculated - because identical laws keep popping up in state after state - that Republican lawmakers who attend ALEC conferences are taking their orders directly from ALEC - and therefore legislation dealing with everything from Voter ID laws, to harsher prison sentences for drug offenders, to dismantling EPA regulation have their roots in ALEC.
Now we have some proof.
In Florida, Republican State Representative Rachel Burgin introduced legislation in the state House back in November of last year to reduce corporate taxes - something that's right in ALEC's wheelhouse.
She got a bit sloppy, though - and forgot to take out ALEC’s mission statement that’s located at the top of all its model legislation.
So the law she introduced had a header that read:
Whereas it is the mission of the American Legislative Exchange Council to advance Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty…
Right. Nice words, but if Thomas Jefferson was alive today and read ALEC's proposed tax loopholes for rich people and corporations, he'd barf - or declare another revolution.
So here's state representative Burgin who was handed legislation written by corporate interests at ALEC to reduce their own taxes - and she turns around and introduced that legislation in the Florida state house - with no changes - as if it was her own idea - but with the ALEC language, though, on top.
Her office discovered the screw-up - they withdrew the legislation really quickly and reintroduced it without the ALEC mission statement - but it was too late - the group Common Cause saw it - and blew the whistle.
You know, it’s becoming increasingly clear what’s going on in our country now that the Supreme Court has given corporations personhood rights and said that money is speech.
Though SuperPACs and think tanks like ALEC - we elect representatives - and they represent corporations.
So I say: "Why hide it?"
From now on - our lawmakers should just be honest with us - and take a cue from Representative Burgin in Florida.
I mean, I've been pushing to make Members of Congress wear patches on their suits like NASCAR drivers so that we know what corporations are "sponsoring" them, for years.
But I think they should also put a new header on top of all new laws they propose letting us know who the law will benefit the most - or who wrote the law in the first place.
For example - in the next few weeks, Republicans in the US House of Representatives will hold hostage either middle class tax cuts - or infrastructure spending - or both - to try to force the President to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.
And when they do - that legislation should come with a nice little header that says:
Whereas it is the mission of the Koch Brothers and other oil barons to maximize their profits by keeping our nation addicted to dirty fossil fuels, we introduce this bill to force the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline...
Or later - when Republicans again try to gut new Wall Street regulations - their legislation needs to have this header:
Whereas it is the mission of Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, and other Wall Street bankers who fund our campaigns to maximize their profits with predatory lending, fine print, and economic destruction, we introduce this bill to dismantle the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and other Wall Street reforms in Dodd-Frank...
Or how about when House Republicans AGAIN try to repeal Obamacare:
Whereas it is the mission of United Healthcare, Aetna, and other for-profit health insurers to make massive profits denying children healthcare, turning down life-saving treatments, and jacking up premiums to pay for more CEO mansions, we introduce this bill to repeal The Affordable Care Act...
This is much-needed transparency - or that would be.
And until we get a constitutional amendment that says that corporations are not people and that money is property and not speech - then we have to have this sort of transparency to see who's buying whom on Capitol Hill, and whose interests are being represented above We the People.
That's The Big Picture.