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Krugman Reports on ALEC

June 30, 2014

At last a “headline” columnist is making ALEC’s exploits known! Today Paul Krugman’s column, “Charlatans, Cranks and Kansas” deals with the insidious impact ALEC has had and is having on the national, state and local economies, shifting public funds away from the government and into the pockets of the oligarchs. Krugman looks deeply into the KS tax cut debacle (see my post yesterday on this topic) and reaches a broader conclusion:

There’s an important lesson here — but it’s not what you think. Yes, the Kansas debacle shows that tax cuts don’t have magical powers, but we already knew that. The real lesson from Kansas is the enduring power of bad ideas, as long as those ideas serve the interests of the right people.

Those “right people” are the folks who bankroll the American Legislative Exchange Council- or ALEC- whose shenanigans have been widely reported in progressive blogs but mostly overlooked by the main stream media. Krugman succinctly describes ALEC and the folks who underwrite it:

And what is ALEC? It’s a secretive group, financed by major corporations, that drafts model legislation for conservative state-level politicians. Ed Pilkington of The Guardian, who acquired a number of leaked ALEC documents, describes it as “almost a dating service between politicians at the state level, local elected politicians, and many of America’s biggest companies.” And most of ALEC’s efforts are directed, not surprisingly, at privatization, deregulation, and tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy.

And I do mean for the wealthy. While ALEC supports big income-tax cuts, it calls for increases in the sales tax — which fall most heavily on lower-income households — and reductions in tax-based support for working households. So its agenda involves cutting taxes at the top while actually increasing taxes at the bottom, as well as cutting social services.

I felt compelled to elaborate a bit more in the comment section by offering the following:

Here’s the rest of the ALEC playbook: when revenues fall short raid the pension funds of public employees; privatize public services replacing union workers with lower-wage at-will employees thereby rewarding the shareholders while racing to the bottom on wages for those providing services; deregulate so that the privatizers do not have to meet the same standards as the agencies they replace; and make sure the media outlets controlled by ALEC repeat the mantra that government is the problem and the marketplace will solve all problems.

Sunlight is the best antidote to secrecy… and MAYBE if people realize that the economic ideas promoted by ALEC are designed to expand the wealth of the top .05% at the expense of the rest of us they MIGHT change their thinking… and if that happens the enduring power of a host of bad ideas might be diminished.

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