Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Selling Congress

You may recall a few months ago we talked about the fact that the Arizona anti-immigrant bill was basically written by a group called ALEC, that brings together corporate interests (like prisons-for-profit) to help state legislators write legislation.

Well, AmericaBlog points out that it isn't just the corrections industry shaping legislation over at ALEC. Seems it has its nose in the union-busting efforts we're seeing in Wisconsin and Indiana too.
A group composed of Republican state lawmakers and corporate executives, the American Legislative Exchange Council, is quietly spreading these proposals from state to state, sending e-mails about the latest efforts as well as suggested legislative language.
They also point us to a well-researched blog showing the actual trail.
[ALEC's] goal for the past forty years has been to draft “model bills” that conservative legislators can introduce in the 50 states. Its website claims that in each legislative cycle, its members introduce 1000 pieces of legislation based on its work, and claims that roughly 18% of these bills are enacted into law. (Among them was the controversial 2010 anti-immigrant law in Arizona.)

If you’re as impressed by these numbers as I am, I’m hoping you’ll agree with me that it may be time to start paying more attention to ALEC and the bills its seeks to promote.
Okay, there's one part of the problem.

And The Washington Monthly points us to another example of how corporatism has disrupted the legislative process.
When we last checked in with Rep. Mike Pompeo (R) of Kansas, he was trying to kill a consumer-product-safety database, allowing Americans to go online and access free information about the safety records of household products. The measure was easily approved with bipartisan support, but the freshman Republican perceived it as anti-business...

As it turned out, the Koch brothers were the ones who wanted the online consumer-product-safety database scuttled, and Pompeo was happy to do their bidding -- he represents the district where Koch Industries is located, and the Koch brothers and their political action committee were his most generous campaign contributors.

The Washington Post had an interesting piece over the weekend, noting that Pompeo is now also trying to gut an EPA registry of greenhouse-gas polluters -- another Koch Bros' goal -- and has hired a former Koch Industries lawyer as his chief of staff....

Burdett Loomis, a University of Kansas political science professor, added, "I'm sure he would vigorously dispute this, but it's hard not to characterize him as the congressman from Koch."

That pretty much sums it up. We're talking about a dynamic in which a congressman appears to be an employee of the Koch brothers.
This is the fruit of the Citizens United decision.
We don't have a democratic republic any more. Increasingly, what we have is a corporate oligarchy. We are all doing the bidding of the corporations, and there seems to be no effective way to push back.


F. Harry Stowe said...

There was a good sci-fi novel back in the day (I was still reading sci-fi and McCarthyism was in the air) which pitted the Consies (World conservation Federation) against the honest Congress, where members were identified by the corporation they represented rather than some meaningless state. The author was some Golden Age biggy, but I can't remember any details. Oh yes, the events took place in the 1990s.

JCF said...

FYI, typo in the thread title (and link).

Fred Schwartz said...

Oh, sure there is. Many of us are just so busy trying to act rich that we have failed to see that we in the middle class are destined for the history books. But yes, there is a way to push back -- it just ain't easy and it just ain't nice.