postal service

ALEC — Announces the End of the Public Safety and Elections Task Force – No Sighs of Relief Just Yet…

Under intense pressure from activists and organizations including VLTP and the Center for Media and Democracy, ALEC begins to crack internally as the shadowy organization has been drug into the light of day – with great difficulty.  Over the past few days twelve top corporate members/sponsors fled ALEC in haste as their brands became synonymous with ALEC’s political and legislative corruption.  This morning Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the latest corporation to sever all ties with ALEC.

Also this morning – and possibly in response to this latest defection by Blue Cross – ALEC quietly issued this statement in a press release:

ALEC Sharpens Focus on Jobs, Free Markets and Growth — Announces the End of the Task Force that Dealt with Non-Economic Issues

(Washington, D.C.) April 17, 2012—David Frizzell, Indiana State Representative and 2012 National Chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), issued the following statement today on behalf of ALEC’s Legislative Board of Directors:

“Today we are redoubling our efforts on the economic front, a priority that has been the hallmark of our organization for decades. Fostering the exchange of pro-growth, solutions-oriented ideas is precisely why ALEC exists.

“To that end, our legislative board last week unanimously agreed to further our work on policies that will help spur innovation and competitiveness across the country.

“We are refocusing our commitment to free-market, limited government and pro-growth principles, and have made changes internally to reflect this renewed focus.

“We are eliminating the ALEC Public Safety and Elections task force that dealt with non-economic issues, and reinvesting these resources in the task forces that focus on the economy. The remaining budgetary and economic issues will be reassigned.

“While we recognize there are other critical, non-economic issues that are vitally important to millions of Americans, we believe we must concentrate on initiatives that spur competitiveness and innovation and put more Americans back to work.

“Our free-market, limited government, pro-growth policies are the reason ALEC enjoys the support of legislators on both sides of the aisle and in all 50 states. ALEC members are interested in solutions that put the American economy back on track. This is our mission, and it is what distinguishes us.”

This Public Safety task force is the one used in the recent spread of; anti-immigrant legislation (SB 1070 in AZ. and other states), the current spate of voter ID bills and earlier bills such as prison privatization, prison industries, minimum mandatory sentencing and truth in sentencing (85% completion of sentence imposed) as well as the now infamous stand your ground (kill at will) legislation in Florida and more than 20 other states.  This same task force has been used to coordinate redistricting legislation on behalf of the GOP for years.  This ALEC body has been used to incarcerate millions and disallow their right to vote upon release or completion of probation or parole – and has been working overtime to disenfranchise millions more in 2012 and beyond through unnecessary voter ID model legislation written by ALEC and proposed, enacted and passed in many states already.

Eliminating this one branch of the organization does not mean all the legislation they’ve sent out to the states is going to be withdrawn, laws already on the books and being used to drive mass incarceration and exploitation through privatization of prisons and prison industries will remain as a testament both to ALEC’s successful influence and as a testament to their corruption.  Neither is erased by eliminating the original source for the legislation and exploitation.  Trayvon Martin’s life will not be restored, millions will not be miraculously released from our jails and prisons and corporations will not withdraw from prison industry operations and exploitation of slave labor.

The disbanding of this one task force does however mark the beginning of what most hope is an internal implosion that will eliminate ALEC altogether.  The announcement that ALEC is, “redoubling our efforts on the economic front, a priority that has been the hallmark of our organization for decades. Fostering the exchange of pro-growth, solutions-oriented ideas is precisely why ALEC exists“, does not bode well for America’s economy and jobs.

The statement that they will focus on jobs and the economy at this moment in the battle against ALEC, serves as both an acknowledgement of ALEC’s participation in actions we’ve long complained of and an admission of their guilt for those acts.  Additionally it serves as a warning to us that they intend to double-down on the war waged against economic reform and the pursuit of jobs.  These issues are now controlled nationally rather in the separate states by ALEC’s alumni/members in the U.S. Congress.  VLTP has been trying to emphasize this fact for many months now.  While ALEC and their critics alike continue to deny that the organization is involved with U.S. federal laws and policies, our research clearly refutes that denial.

VLTP knows ALEC’s influence within our Congress is immense and their alumni have been obstructing any real attempts at true economic reforms since the 2010 election.  Through ALEC the states have been taking their cues from Congress on these critical issues and causing obstruction and obfuscation of the arguments. When ALEC says it will focus on
jobs & the economy, it is not a good thing for you, your family, your job, your community or our national economy.

In fact the U.S. House has been directed by two key ALEC members; House Speaker, John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.  As the videos linked to below demonstrate, once Boehner and Cantor advanced from state legislatures to Congress, they remained loyal and subservient to ALEC and their agenda.  If you take a few moments and listen to the speeches given by both in their presentations in 2009 you’ll get a grasp of their continued commitment to ALEC and Conservative policies.

Under their direction and that of 89 other House members and 9 Senators who are loyal ALEC alumni, we’ve been shown a snapshot of what the future of our Congress will be should they continue to hold a House and gain a Senate majority in the future. For this reason we must not be swayed by one press announcement served up in the way of appeasement.

ALEC is an American disease that has been infecting all segments of our society and simply carving off one piece of that diseased carcass does not provide a cure.  The cure is a total elimination of the cancerous mass that is ALEC.

We’ve managed to expose the manipulations that for decades had been hidden away behind closed doors in dark smoke filled chambers deep within ALEC – and behind tight security at luxury resorts.  Joint corporate and legislative maneuvering, negotiations and crafting of pro-corporate profitization laws for all Americans to live by have been exposed to the light of day shining through ever widening cracks.  I fear that ultimately we’ve now driven these men and their hidden agenda from those rooms and forced them into a much smaller, much darker, better hidden “closet” in the corner.  From there they will surely continue their agenda, feeling safer for the lack of attention and public focus.

It will be our considerable job to follow them, throw open the doors to the empty chambers and seek them out by shining the same light of truth through the keyhole and under the edge of their closeted meetings until finally they flee from sight and rather than seek another dark crevice to hide in, disband altogether.

We are working on bringing that eventuality to a reality even as this is being written.  Serious and experienced researchers have been pouring over documents, links, pictures and other important materials.  There is much, much more to the ALEC saga and story that is known but has not been released yet.  More facts and information to show the depth of corruption practiced by ALEC and the network they are a part of; organizations, think tanks, foundations, corporations and individuals all working behind a curtain of secrecy to change the face of democracy and turn our government over to the highest bidder.  Right now the top bidder is the Koch brothers, Charles and David with their massive wealth, influence and total control over dozens of Tea Party lawmakers elected by Koch money in 2010.  Add the Tea Party legislators to the state and federal ALEC alumni and members…and you realize the job is far from over.

This picture represents the attitude, personae and total lack of respect or regard ALEC has for our democracy, the office of President and Americans in general: 

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is an ALEC Alum and has implemented every possible piece of ALEC written legislation in her state since taking office.  She serves as a key enabler of ALEC through SB 1070, expanding prison privatization, reductions in corporate taxes, voter id laws to disenfranchise, privatization of education, long distance learning, school vouchers, tort “reform”…anything that crosses her desk with ALEC’s DNA upon it is immediately signed and the citizens of Arizona be damned as she bows on behalf of Arizona’s citizens to ALEC’s will and influence.

ALEC, INTUIT & Reverse Mortgages – A Primer on Corporate Exploitation of Americans

It isn’t often with ALEC that one can actually see firsthand the entire procedure from creation through outcome of an initiative advanced by this “charity” through manipulation of state and federal legislation.  Usually when we buy a happy meal at McDonalds, or a two liter of Coke or Pepsi, use TurboTax to prepare our income taxes, we are not aware of or see the laws that have been put in place to increase the profits, allow less regulation concerning food safety or reducing corporate taxes to increase profits.  As consumers we are interested in the end product and put less thought into what determines the cost or safety standards in manufacturing or delivering the products we buy.

In one specific instance we can dissect both the legislation advanced by ALEC, who it was designed to benefit and which consumer market has been targeted.  It involves senior citizens, ALEC, Intuit and Reverse Mortgages.

______________________________

Today several prominent corporations – most with national markets – have publicly ceased membership to/with the American Legislative Exchange Council.  These companies; Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Mars, Intuit, Kraft Foods, American Traffic Solutions (ATS) and Arizona Public Service Company (APS, Arizona’s largest electric utility) made this choice following an intense campaign by activists to expose their involvement with ALEC.  Though these efforts of separating ALEC from their affluent benefactors and members has been ongoing for a couple of years, the discovery that the Stand Your Ground law in Florida that may allow the murderer of a 17 year old to go free, has served as a new catalyst.

Each of the (now) eleven corporations that have left ALEC over the past few days have benefited from their membership with ALEC.  The important aspect is that these benefits will continue to drive profits to these companies after they’ve quit ALEC.  The laws they helped enable that extracts profits from costs to consumers and taxpayers will continue.  I believe they should not be allowed to so easily walk away unscathed.

Most are satisfied just to see these companies publicly pull their membership and support from ALEC.  Each ALEC defector did so with public claims they were only interested or participated in discussing legislation important to taxation related to their particular products or operations.  In public statements about leaving ALEC each also disavowed any participation in the Stand Your Ground and other onerous legislation disseminated by ALEC.  Activist organizations such as Color of Change, Common Cause and MoveOn.org count these corporate desertions as a victory and appear to accept the corporate claims, shifting efforts on to the hundreds of companies still refusing to drop ALEC membership, such as ; Koch Industries, BP, Centerpoint 360, UPS, FedEx, PhRMA, GlaxoSmithKline, Diageo and State Farm Insurance.

The Voters Legislative Transparency Project (www.vltp.net) urges voters to slow down just a moment and realize the amount of damages this small, handful of companies have caused us collectively and individually before we simply allow them off with a public “warning.”  Yes, we are gladdened to see ALEC’s members ceasing involvement with them – but much of the damage they’ve caused has already been done and the laws they helped write and get passed are still out there and in force.  The profits they sought are still rolling in and the legislative initiatives their financial aiding and abetting helped start, are still in the legislative pipeline; voter id, right to work, privatizing education, prison privatization expansions, privatization of utilities, etc.

As we wrote earlier this month, ALEC and their corporate members UPS and FedEx have been working silently to privatize our Postal Service (USPS), based upon a comprehensive report we publicly released in November, 2011 which identifies ALEC’s federal involvement in passing legislation favorable to corporations.  This effort of taking over the USPS and the nearly $70 billion in revenue it generates per year is only the latest privatization effort of ALEC

Several years ago ALEC and their members developed a legislative project involving a way to gain access to and control of a projected $2 trillion dollars; home equity held by seniors. The method developed to tap into this huge pool of privately held equity is today called a Reverse Mortgage.  In 2005 the CATO Institute published a Policy Analysis titled: “Aging America’s Achilles’ Heel Medicaid Long-Term Care,” written by Stephen A. Moses and nearly at the same time a similar report was issued by the National Council On Aging (NCOA) titled: “Expanding the Use of Reverse Mortgages for Long-Term Care: A Blueprint for Action”.  These reports were followed by ALEC crafting and adopting new model legislation titled the “Reverse Mortgage Enabling Act.” As with most of ALEC’s initiatives, multiple players contribute simultaneously to achieve the desired outcome.[1]

The NCOA report reveals:

Reverse mortgages are specialized loans that enable seniors to tap their home equity while they continue to live in the home. With an estimated amount of over $72,000 available on average to older households from these loans, reverse mortgages can help impaired elders pay for several years of daily home care visits, over a decade of out-of-pocket expenses and respite for family caregivers, or substantial home modifications. Despite the promise of this financing option, older Americans have not been encouraged to tap into their substantial housing assets.

The purpose of this project is to outline the rationale for increasing the use of reverse mortgages for long-term care and to identify areas where government interventions may be able to stimulate the market.

This ALEC initiative has since become the “law of the land” in nearly every state and through federal legislation developed by ALEC as a means of lowering the dependency of elderly or senior’s needs upon state Medicaid and SSI payments.  Their view was seniors held approximately $2 trillion dollars of equity in their homes and government laws provided a way for those seniors to exempt their homes from:

  1. being used to calculate eligibility for Medicaid assistance.
  2. and allowing estates or heirs an exemption from Medicaid reimbursement for their parents who had received Medicaid.
  3. allowed heirs to avoid repayment of any medical expenses paid for by the state for the deceased and to keep the land, property and assets previously owned and exempted by then current law.

They argued that it was allowing anyone to find a way to lower their assets and holdings through loop holes to avoid personally paying for their own long term care (LTC) through a program primarily designed for the poor.  The solution ALEC came up with was the Reverse Mortgage Enabling Act, “designed” so once a senior homeowner received a reverse mortgage, they no longer qualified for state Medicaid or Social Security’s Supplemental Security Income (SSI) due to liquid assets received through the transaction.  The RM proceeds were intended to be used by the mortgagee to fund forward healthcare costs, insurance premiums and long term care expenses.  This legislation was crafted to relieve the stress being experienced by individual states for financing necessary Medicaid expenses by using the equity in the property owned by seniors (age 62 or older) who were receiving Medicaid, SSi or similar government assistance.[i]They specifically targeted for exploitation the group most needing LTC, Medicaid and SSI benefits – seniors over 62 years of age who own or have substantial equity in their homes.


 

Form(s) of Exploitation

ALEC’s Reverse Mortgage Enabling Act legislation provided several exemptions from laws in place to protect consumers:

Reverse mortgage loans may be made or acquired without regard to the following provisions for other types of mortgage transactions set out in the statutes specified below:

(A) Limitations on the purpose and use of future advances or any other mortgage proceeds,

(B) Limitations on future advances to a term of years, or limitations on the term of credit line advances,

(C) Limitations on the term during which future advances take priority over intervening advances,

(D) Requirements that a maximum mortgage amount be stated in the mortgage,

(E) Limitations on loan-to-value ratios,

(F) Prohibitions on balloon payments,

(G) Prohibitions on compounded interest and interest on interest,

(H) Interest rate limits under the usury statutes; and

(I) Requirements that a percentage of the loan proceeds must be advanced prior to loan assignment.

They opined that seniors would jump at the chance to exchange home equity for liquidity during retirement years with no requirement to repay the loans.  Of course none of the seniors were aware that accepting such a financial “windfall” came with several unknown disadvantages: reverse mortgage payments may affect eligibility for government benefits, including Medicaid and SSI eligibility and payments could be garnished in unrelated circumstances such as liability for a traffic accident.

Homeowners can get the money in one of three ways (or in any combination of the three): in a lump sum, as a line of credit that can be drawn on at the borrower’s option, or in a series of regular payments, called a “reverse annuity mortgage.”  Generally, these payments will not be counted as income as long as they are spent within the same month they are received.  If the funds are not immediately spent, however, they accumulate and can push resources over the allowable limits for Medicaid and SSI.

In addition, payments from reverse annuity mortgages may be counted as income for purposes of Medicaid and SSI whether or not they are spent within the month they are received.  Interest charged on the mortgages is usually in excess of what is normally allowed and will be compounded; adding to the initial principal and future interest applied to new principal amounts.

While reverse mortgages look like no-lose propositions on the surface, in addition to the possibility of losing eligibility for Medicaid and SSi, closing costs for these loans are about double those for conventional mortgages.  Closing costs on a reverse mortgage for a $200,000 home exceeds $10,000. This cost can be financed by the loan itself, but that reduces the money available to the borrower

Finally, when the holder of a RM passes away, the total note, with all principal, compounded interest, fees and other provisions are due and payable as a balloon payment.  Regardless of the assessed and appraised value of the property, the heirs owe what the bank or mortgage holder is contractually entitled to and this amount will normally equal the actual property value and most proceeds going to the lender.  In most cases the mortgage contract contains provisions that property ownership transfers directly to the mortgagor upon the death of the owner.  This removes the home – and principal asset of the deceased – from the estate and inheritance for the surviving family.  These RM’s may be beneficial and thus desirable to a small number of consumers; seniors with no family or those who don’t wish to leave their home to their children and in those circumstances an RM is well suited for their specific needs.

In a MarketWatch question and answer forum featuring the advice of housing writer Lew Sichelman, Sichelman addresses what he calls a little understood and under-publicized aspect of reverse mortgages: their impact on Medicaid eligibility;

“If a patient takes out a reverse mortgage and receives a lump-sum, they’re often ineligible for Medicaid to pay for nursing home care.  The rules are complicated but Medicaid allows a patient to have not more than $2,000 plus a house and automobile. A large, lump-sum payment can impact that dollar amount in the month when it is received.

A reverse mortgage, while it does not impact Medicare or Social Security, can have an effect on Medicaid and SSI Income, he writes.

 “If you opt for a lump-sum payment from a reverse mortgage, any amount retained the month after you receive it would count as a resource and could affect SSI or Medicaid coverage.  Also, when the proceeds of a reverse mortgage are paid out on a monthly basis, the payments act to increase the senior’s income and could possibly render him or her ineligible for Medicaid.”

While reverse mortgages are a viable option for those who wish to improve their later-years’ lifestyle, Sichelman says,

 “They could prove to be deadly—financially speaking—if they must move into a nursing home, even if only on a short-term basis.”

The reason for this concern about moving into a nursing home for any period of time, is that under RM contracts, the homeowner is required to continuously reside at the home, maintain the home and is prohibited from leaving the premises unattended for more than 60 days.  In cases of default, the loan is called due and payable immediately.

From 1990 through mid 2008 there were very few RM’s applied for by seniors; 114,692 reverse mortgages were made in fiscal year 2009, compared to 157 in 1990 when people had actual money.  Home equity was substantially greater than the valuation of those homes and elderly consumers saw no need to take advantage of an RM.  With the mortgage crisis that built and finally exploded in late 2008, homeowners lost as much as 50% of the value and equity in their homes, their retirement and pension accounts took a huge hit as well.  Seniors were particularly hard hit in that they were dependent upon fixed incomes and budgets and their greatest asset – their homes – had been devalued which instantly reduced the percentage of equity they held.  With homes devalued and retirement, pensions and 401K investments sliding by half, seniors were put in a terrible financial situation, with no ability to work and earn an income due to medical issues, age or infirmity.  Reverse Mortgages then looked like a way to keep their heads above water and many began to consider RMs as a means to live out their lives without becoming homeless or destitute.

As the economy continued to slide and property values at the lowest in decades and mortgage interest at or under 5%, banks and mortgage companies realized that the time was ripe to acquire as many properties held by seniors as possible.  The price would never be better; loaning between 65% and 85% of the appraised values would mean they could get their hands on huge numbers of homes for much less than even the depressed value of each – through relatively short term reverse mortgages that had provisions to allow higher interest rates and exemptions from usury prohibitions.  Some of the same lenders now known to be responsible for the economic collapse and sub-prime mortgage and derivatives problems, received bank bailout funding and have used some of that money to invest in lucrative RM’s. The older the borrower the more banks are willing to lend (obviously their actuarial tables provide that RMs to older borrowers results in shorter term loans).

Companies such as Intuit’s “One Reverse Mortgage” which already had a RM program in place (since 2001) began to heavily advertise RMs to seniors.  Many other companies jumped on the bandwagon and from late 2008 through today we see dozens of RM adds on TV, in our print and radio media encouraging seniors to take advantage of a RM.  In these ads seniors are informed they can walk away from the closing with huge amounts of money “to use any way they want” and enjoy the safety and security of owning their own home and having no financial worries through their retirement years.  In fact the paid spokesmen for these companies such as long time ALEC supporter and former Senator, Fred Thompson advise potential RM applicants they can use their funds to pay off any first mortgages on their homes altogether and eliminate any monthly mortgage payment. This reduces any possibility of legal conflicts between lenders when the homeowner dies – and in most cases paying off the first mortgage is a stipulation for in an RM contract.

Intuit was represented upon ALEC’s Private Enterprise Board by Bernie McKay, the Vice President of Government Affairs at Intuit Inc.  Intuit is a long time member of ALEC and as the foregoing demonstrates, this company is suspected of having a hand in writing; passing and adopting this ALEC model legislation…and is capitalizing off of RMs.  Intuit proudly proclaims, “One Reverse Mortgage is the nation’s largest reverse mortgage only company.

Having been involved from beginning to end in the Reverse Mortgage development, Intuit is realizing millions and millions off of the RM legislation they helped lawmakers pass nationwide.  If left in place this one law used to exploit seniors, unbeknownst to them will continue financial streams for Intuit and other lenders indefinitely. Simply leaving ALEC after their future earnings have been guaranteed by the laws they put in place over the past half decade is not sufficient.  Intuit must be made to help clean-up this mess they helped create; stand your ground, reverse mortgage, voter id, abortion, healthcare and other laws that began as ALEC model legislation and are now controlling laws in many of our states.

Similarly, the other corporations that have left ALEC – and those that remain – must also share in the massive legislative clean-up their actions caused.  VLTP believes that once harm has been visited upon consumers and voters there must be an effort to repair the damages done by the perpetrator.  In the case of ALEC there are hundreds of corporate perps, nearly 2,000 state lawmakers and an undetermined number of Alumni who share responsibility for the damage that has been visited upon Americans for the past four decades.

We can see from just the one legislative effort – Reverse Mortgages – that these companies have been able to amass huge profits, acquire the right or titles to millions of homes.  Charting how Coke, Pepsi , McDonald’s, Wendy’s and the others have profited can only be guesstimated for now.  At some point analysts will correlate that information, but for now its sufficient to note that they were enablers for the acts of ALEC and have to share in repairing what ALEC broke.

Too many times over the years corporations have been caught committing criminal acts and gotten away with reasonable fines and no one going to jail.  We have been left to clean up our economy, housing crisis and mortgage frauds on our own.  Now that we know who is responsible for many of these acts, they must be made to step-up, admit their involvement and provide us with financial assistance to repair the damages caused.

VLTP urges everyone to insist that Intuit and the others now trying to separate themselves from ALEC use the vast wealth they have accumulated from their relationship with ALEC and help us rebuild our economy, our communities, property values and above all to help restore a true democracy in the U.S.



[1] Editor’s NOTE: This is the same activity used in that same year to begin the effort to privatize the Postal Service; calls from think tanks to privatize, creation of model bills to address a nonexistent problem with introduction of that legislation and eventual passage.

ALEC’s U.S. Congressional “Corrupt Practices” Report – What ALEC Alumni are Doing in DC

 

ALEC Corrupt Practices

Thought the AMerican Legislative Exchange Council was only involved in corrupting state lawmakers…passing pro-corporate laws state by state?  They are much more dangerous than that.  When their state members are elected to Congress they become “alumni” and continue to advance ALEC’s agenda right into the halls of both Houses through a hidden tenth Task Force called the “Federal Forum.”  Today there are 100 current sitting members of our Senate and House who have loyalty and ties to ALEC.

This report documents how they are able to “fast track” legislation important to them; suspending the rules, limiting discussion and pushing an immediate vote that allows their legislation to be passed with only a handful of House members present and voting.  See how many times they’ve done this, including in landmark legislation involving an attempt to privatize the U.S. Postal Service.

When ALEC legislation comes under attack through litigation, ALEC and their cabal are there, behind the scenes filing “friend of the court” briefs – with some cases drawing more than 20 such briefs from all their affiliates – to sway the court’s opinion.

Includes how ALEC’s Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) became the law of the land regarding criminalizing animal rights activism.  Learn about Charles Koch’s Institute for Humane Studies used to recruit hundreds of college students annually for positions as “interns” at more than 90 conservative think tanks, foundations and organizations including ALEC, Heritage foundation, Reason foundation and CATO Institute.

The various foundations, organizations and institutes representing the “Cabal” are identified in this report.  You’ll learn about this network funding all expense paid trips for federal judges, state appellate and supreme court justices and conservative religious leaders.  These trips provide seminars where our judiciary are programmed by the corporate presentations to favor pro-corporate positions on key issues and cases.  See a 20/20 investigative video about these “Junkets for Judges.”  Learn about George Mason University funding from Koch and their judicial trips and seminars.

Koch’s involvement with influencing colleges and universities to get “his” brand of economics, business admin and environmental curricula taught in top state colleges. How a revolving door policy is used to allow ALEC’s advisers to move back and forth from public to private sector positions, using their contacts to increase ALEC’s influence within our government.

It’s all here in one in-depth report that chronicles ALEC’s history, legislative practices, corruption and prohibited involvement at the federal level.  Two years of research provided to VLTP visitors without charge.  If this report benefits you or your organization, please consider supporting our work by donating to our research costs.  We operate without corporate or government funding, relying upon our members and supporters generosity to continue our important work.

Read the Full Report–> Continue reading

Smart ALECs Get Their Due

From Business Insider by WhoWhatWhy.

The news in the past week has been heartening to those who see the transparently corrupt nature of ALEC, an organization that works with legislators to come up with and push pro-business legislation on the state level.  Corporations pay up to $25,000 to get in on the action…

“…The term “legislative exchange” must be an inside joke, with the “exchange” not being among legislators, but between those who have the money and those who want it. And ALEC is just the currently most visible arm of one of the most threatening power grabs by big money ever seen.”

Read the Complete article at Business Insider here

Shareholders Call On Companies To Disclose ALEC Ties

By Eli Clifton on Apr 11, 2012 at 1:40 pm

While some companies are refusing to distance themselves from ALEC’s involvement in Voter ID legislation and support for the “stand your ground” laws that may play a pivotal role in the defense of Trayvon Martin’s shooter, newly released SEC documents show that shareholders are increasingly uncomfortable with their companies’ involvement in the conservative organization.

Newly filed SEC documents show that shareholders at five publicly traded companies are launching their own resolutions, to be voted on at upcoming annual meetings in May, calling on the companies to disclose their contributions to tax-exempt organizations, like ALEC, that write and endorse model legislation.

To read the entire article please click the link here

VLTP Statement in Response to ALEC’s “Press Release” on Corporate Members

By Bob Sloan, VLTP Executive Director

Today ALEC released a statement concerning the ongoing pursuit by VLTP and other organizations urging companies and corporations with memberships to ALEC or financially supporting them to leave ALEC.  As anticipated this campaign is having a huge impact upon the shadowy conservative organization as first Pepsi then Coke, Intuit, McDonald’s, the Gates Foundation and today Wendy’s announced they were severing all ties to ALEC.  Since last Friday that makes six gone and approximately another 300 to go.

Here are key issues mentioned in the “Statement by ALEC on the Coordinated Intimidation Campaign Against Its Members” response issued by ALEC’s Executive Director, Ron Scheberle:

“ALEC is an organization that supports pro-growth, pro-jobs policies and the vigorous exchange of ideas between the public and private sector to develop state based solutions. Today, we find ourselves the focus of a well-funded, expertly coordinated intimidation campaign.

“Our members join ALEC because we connect state legislators with other state legislators and with job-creators in their states. They join because we support pro-business policies that promote innovation and spur local and national competitiveness. They’re ALEC members because they’re more interested in solutions than rhetoric.

“Our members join ALEC because we connect state legislators with other state legislators and with job-creators…

Job Creators…a term we’ve been hearing since George Bush uttered it during his presidency when he initiated his “tax cuts”.  This has become a buzz word meaning “US” differentiating the employers, the affluent, business owners, CEO’s, hedge fund managers, bankers and influential conservative politicians from “THEM” the working class who lack all of the above.

We have been speaking the truth about ALEC for more than a year now.  We have always referred to ALEC as a well-funded anti-democratic corporatist shadow government, operating and hiding behind the classification of a charity to advance a corporatocracy to replace our democratically-styled government.  Now that those organizations involved in chasing after ALEC have begun to have an impact, ALEC responds that what we’re doing is a “well funded and expertly Coordinated Intimidation Campaign.”  This is simply not true.  Our efforts have only recently become somewhat coordinated and we have never been well funded.  VLTP applied for a grant from the Soros’ operated OSI Foundation to help fund our efforts of going after ALEC.  We were denied.  We have sought financial support from other Progressive organizations – and have not received one dime from them.  In two years of our work we remain funded through the contributions and donations of our members – who are all middle class working Americans.  There is a working group of organizations now pursuing ALEC and their members.  VLTP has been a part of that effort in that we are a research arm of that group.  Members of VLTP have been researching and documenting ALEC’s activities for nearly a decade now and we freely provided that research to members of the working group.  We contributed material to the joint CMD and Nation ALEC Exposed project and we’ve organized and participated in three ANTI-ALEC Protests last year in Cincinnati, New Orleans and Phoenix.  Others in the working group do not wish to participate in protests, rallies or marches.  We disagree and do these on our own – or have so far.  We think what we do is important to the overall effort.

What ALEC has been doing for nearly 40 years now, results in every single American experiencing some form of suffering through a; loss of the privilege to vote, imprisonment, loss of a job, lower wages if they do have a job, government deregulation on securities, banking and our environment, replacement of public education by private for-profit companies, risk of loss of life due to laws such as the “Stand Your Ground” legislation and lack of access to affordable healthcare.  Yes, each of these are ALEC based initiatives they have pursued and managed to implement in our states and at the federal level over the past three decades.

While ALEC and their corporate and legislative members were crafting and implementing these laws in favor of their corporate cronies – and exploiting Americans in the process – they described their activities as advancing; “Jeffersonian Principles,  limited government, free markets, federalism, and individual liberty.”  In reality they were exploiting all of us with each new law, increases in product and service costs to consumers and limiting our ability to recover damages from malpractice, asbestos contamination or defective products.  They have worked to program our judiciary through seminars given by their corporate benefactors and members, providing them with lavish all expense paid vacations.

ALEC has served as the voice and face of the 1% for years.  They have worked hard to transfer wealth to the upper class from the middle and lower classes and that is now a reality observable all around us.  They have been successful and that success has attracted huge foundations, companies and influential individuals to participate in the ALEC agenda.  Everyone wants to be on the winning team, and ALEC has been winning since it began in 1973.

ALEC is evil, dangerous to democracy and the American way of life.  Coke, Pepsi, Intuit and the other companies withdrawing from ALEC knew this and joined anyway, aiding and abetting their activities and exploitation.  We know they were aware of what they were doing when at the first exposure of belonging to ALEC, they publicly withdrew their support and membership in an attempt to avoid the full exposure they know is about to come out about them.  By leaving ALEC these companies hope to avoid any real cost for the laws they helped write that earned them millions out of the pool of tax dollars and from us, their consumers.

Yes, ALEC has to go and go quickly.  To that end VLTP is planning a protest, march, rally and teach-in event in Charlotte, NC for the week of May 6-12 while ALEC is holding their Spring Summit there at the Westin Resort.  In order to make this a successful event, we need financial assistance.  I would ask those who want to help us achieve this success provide that help through donations to VLTP.  Unlike ALEC we are a true 501 (C)(3) operating without corporate donations or financing, so all donations and contributions to VLTP are tax deductible.  Please click on the donate link above to contribute via PayPal, Debit or Credit card or contact us at Donate@vltp.net for larger contributions. No amount is too small – or too large.

We rely upon our readers and supporters to continue our work and we desperately need your help to abolish ALEC and repeal the terrible and oppressive laws they’ve gotten passed in every state.  Right now we’re working hard to fully expose ALEC’s efforts to privatize the United States Postal Service.  Please help us fight for the USPS.

 

ALEC/Koch Cabal Pursuing Privatization of the US Postal Service for UPS and FedEx…

ALEC/Koch Cabal Pursuing Privatization of the US Postal Service for UPS and FedEx…

OpEd by by Bob Sloan © 2012

An event occurred in front of my home on Wednesday of this week that provided an incentive for me to go ahead and publish an article I’d written about the United States Postal Service (USPS).  The event was a strong-arm robbery of a mailman at a house on our block.  I witnessed this event and was asked to give statements to agents of the Postal Inspector’s Office and local detectives.

Ruminating over the past two days I realized that for hundreds of thousands of USPS letter carriers the possibility of robbery of packages, mail and their personal safety are everyday worries.  Many letter carriers have routes that take them into neighborhoods where their safety is in jeopardy – yet as representatives of our government they willingly return day after day to deliver the mail.  Virtually every citizen in the U.S. comes in contact with USPS employees on a daily basis as they pick up or deliver our mail.

For years the GOP – led by alumni of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in the U.S. Congress – have urged cutting back the wages of USPS workers.  They claim they are paid too much, pensions and retirement provisions too costly to taxpayers and their collective bargaining gives them unfair advantages over private sector workers.  At the core of this argument is that the USPS has a “monopoly” on first class mail and rail parcel package delivery systems.  UPS and FedEx want to take over those services and contracts.

ALEC has pushed for privatizing the USPS and has used the services of RW think tanks such as Reason Foundation, CATO, Econ Journal Watch and National Taxpayers Union to contribute their support for this privatization agenda against the USPS.

The following article was written by me with research assistance from another VLTP Director, Ron Rabatsky.  Months were spent on researching the involvement of the cabal and then putting it all together in the article for publication. A brief yet detailed report about the privatization of the USPS and other federal involvement by ALEC and their alumni in Congress can be reviewed here

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has been in the news a lot of late.  Many stories about the loss of income and repeat annual income falling far below the Postal Service’s ability to operate have been trumpeted in the MSM.  Critics have called for the USPS to reduce hours, cut employees, close facilities and raise rates to increase annual sales and income. Today some within the business community think the USPS is actually looking at bankruptcy.  There is no doubt the U.S. Mail service is struggling financially but is the fault really that of USPS?

I think it is time to take a long hard look at just how this has come about.  Mail service has been around longer than the U.S. has as a nation:

“The USPS traces its roots to 1775 during the Second Continental Congress, where Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first postmaster general. The cabinet-level Post Office Department was created in 1792 from Franklin’s operation and transformed into its current form in 1971 under the Postal Reorganization Act.”

For more than two hundred years the USPS operated smoothly, with little reliance upon tax dollars.  The USPS has not received taxpayer-dollars since the early 1980s with the minor exception of subsidies for costs associated with the disabled and overseas voters.

Congress passed the POSTAL ACCOUNTABILITY AND ENHANCEMENT ACT (H.R. 6407 in December 2006). This was a comprehensive postal reform bill that President Bush signed on December 20, 2006 (P.L. 109-435). This legislation addressed USPS’s long-term financial obligations by: returning responsibility for funding Civil Servant’s Retirement System (CSRS) pension benefits related to the military service of postal retirees to the Department of Treasury; repealing the escrow account requirement; establishing a Postal Service Retiree Health Benefit Fund (RHB); and requiring the Postal Service to make annual payments into the new RHB Fund. This law included a specific schedule for Postal Service payments into that fund from 2007 through 2016 (ranging between $5.4 and $5.8 billion per year) and a requirement for the Service to establish an amortization schedule for any remaining unfunded obligations and retire them by 2056.  HR 6407 included H.R. 22 and S. 662.  (This legislation passed the House via voice vote, and no record of members present or their position was recorded.  This is remarkably similar to the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) that was pushed through the House in 2005 by a voice vote and passed with only 5 votes due to a manipulation of the House Rules and schedule for the hearing).

The Postal Service Board of Governors opposed this legislation from the start, expressing severe and specific doubts about the bills, to no avail.  Accordingly, on September 13, 2005, the Board informed the relevant committees that despite providing needed financial relief, the bills were so bad the Postal Service would be better off under existing laws.

The initiatives to implement such “prefunding” by the USPS began much earlier than 2006.  Proponents of this legislation actually began pushing an agenda against the USPS way back in 1996.  The “Point man” identified as being the Republican led voice behind HR 6407 has been identified as Rep. John McHugh (R NY).  McHugh is an ALEC Alumni and first introduced Postal Reform legislation in 1996:H.R. 3717  and worked for over ten years to bring this legislation to fruition through passage of HR 6407 in 2006.

That year President Bush appointed a Presidential commission on Postal Reform consisting of nine members.  On February 7, 2006, seven of its nine members, on their own initiative, signed a letter to Congressional leaders and the relevant committees stating their concerns that:

“[T]he proposed legislation goes too far in transforming the regulator by giving it powers that will limit even further, rather than increase, the ability of the postal service to operate like a business.  Giving the regulator the ability to receive, adjudicate and order remedies on virtually any complaint on any action the Postal Service takes essentially transfers oversight and operational authority from the Board of Governors and management to the regulator.  Such an approach is likely to tie the Postal Service up in endless administrative proceedings and effectively preclude them from making the significant changes they must make to meet the daunting challenges that lie ahead. This is a governance model that simply won’t work.

Since the law was implemented requiring the USPS to “prefund” their Retiree Health Benefits Fund, the USPS has appeared to be losing money every year since 2006.  They have been forced to continuously raise postage rates to consumers over the past five years – and are still struggling to keep their financial heads above water.  I was interested in where a push for this apparent attack against the Post Office began – and determined to find out why.

Research into this situation led to documents that clearly show this was another one of those “initiatives” discussed and advanced by the ALEC/Koch led “Cabal.” ALEC’s now infamous SB 1070 legislation initiatives in AZ. were created for and benefited ALEC’s member, Corrections Corporation of America.  Just as ALEC created the proper atmosphere for SB 1070 by publishing articles to support a perceived “need” for immigration laws to protect American citizens and garner voter support, the cabal’s USPS initiatives have been similarly implemented seeking privatization of the USPS– to the direct benefit of ALEC’s members UPS and FedEx.”

Here are the facts:

From 2003 through passage of HR 6407 in 2006, the Koch/ALEC CABAL worked diligently publishing articles in favor of privatizing the USPS.

In 2004 Rick Geddes published an article in the Econ Journal Watch titled “DO VITAL ECONOMISTS REACH A POLICY CONCLUSION ON POSTAL REFORM?”  where he states:

“We could go on at length as to the potential benefits from privatization of USPS and the creation of USPSI (U.S. Postal Service, Inc.)…” (citing Economists MICHAEL A. CREW AND PAUL R. KLEINDORFER).

This was followed in January 2005 by; “An Open Letter to Congress: It’s Time to Seriously Overhaul the U.S. Postal Service, Not Tweak It,” by Economic Policy Analyst, Tad DeHaven on behalf of the National Taxpayers Union (NTU).  Dehaven is a Budget Analyst at the CATO Institute:

“Tad DeHaven is a budget analyst on federal and state budget issues for the Cato Institute. Previously he was a deputy director of the Indiana Office of Management and Budget. DeHaven also worked as a budget policy advisor to Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Tom Coburn (R-OK). In 2010, he was named to Florida Governor Rick Scott’s Economic Advisory Council.

Sessions is a frequent supporter of and sponsor of ALEC’s model legislation and Coburn is a frequent attendant at ALEC events as well as at Koch’s secret meetings.  The NTU is a recipient of Koch funding as reported by Sourcewatch and ALEC’s former Executive Director is also president of both the NTU and the NTUF.

Later that year (October) the NTU issued another “memo” on the USPS: “First-Class to Nowhere: Congress’s Second-Rate Postal Reform Bill” where they claimed:

“USPS does not have to pay most taxes and is exempt from most of the regulations that burden truly-commercial firms. Even so, these businesses are able to operate more efficiently and more profitably than the Postal Service. USPS was created at a time when no private entity was willing or able to deliver mail across a developing nation. Now that we have capable private organizations eager to do so, USPS should be contracting in size and mission. Legislation that encourages a government monopoly to instead expand into new and competitive markets is misguided, to say the least.”

Simultaneously the CATO Institute published “Downsizing the Federal Government” by Chris Edwards.  In this document Edwards is again promoting privatization of USPS;

“In other industries, the federal government needlessly duplicates services that are already available in the private sector. For example, the USPS operates parcel delivery services that compete with private parcel services…”

“For example, privatization of the USPS and repeal of its monopoly would bring major innovation to the mail industry …”

“…The way ahead is to privatize the USPS and repeal the mail monopoly that it holds…”

“…It is time to privatize the USPS and repeal the government monopoly on mail.”

Also in 2005, the Reason Foundation filed a similar document, titled “Annual Privatization Report” that provides:

“The federal government operates numerous business enterprises that could be converted into publicly traded corporations, including the USPS…Moving forward calls for privatizing USPS and repealing the first-class mail monopoly that it currently holds…the USPS suffers from a high wage premium (it pays an estimated 21.2 to 35.7 percent more than would a comparable private sector employer, which represents 12 to 20 percent of total costs) and low productivity increases (only 9.2 percent from 1970 to 1999).”

From the foregoing we see the Cabal’s fingerprints beginning to appear upon an effort for privatization of the USPS.  Their main pursuit was the two lucrative services provided by the USPS; the parcel post (package delivery) and residential first class mail delivery.  The NTU, Heritage, Cato and Reason claims have one theme in common; claiming the USPS is poorly run, inefficient and constitutes a Government run “monopoly”.  With billions in annual sales, the USPS  is seen as a ripe target for profiteers (like their pursuit of the $2 trillion in equity in senior homes through ALEC’s Reverse Mortgage Act) once they break the barriers to privatization.

To privatize they had to first make it appear the agency was floundering, unable to generate revenue and in general was “bad” for the American consumer.  Once they accomplished that through rhetoric, published reports by “on the payroll Economists”, they had to in effect make the USPS actually start losing money.  They decided to do this by forcing the agency to begin to “fund forward” pension benefits – including for employees not even hired yet.

Sponsor of Congress’ 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act legislation was Virginia’s Representative, Tom Davis (R-VA 11th).  Davis picked up where McHugh’s H.R. 3717 left off.

Davis’ family and political history is closely tied to ALEC/Koch.  His wife, Jeannemarie Devolites Davis served as a Virginia state Senator and a member of ALEC.  Her three political campaigns for Virginia’s Senate was funded by husband Tom Davis and Republican PACs including former Majority Leader and ALEC Alumni Tom Delay through his ARMPAC:

“A large percentage of her financial support is contributed from her husband, Tom Davis, and the Republican organizations he directs. Before Virginia’s 2007 election cycle, his PACS had donated more than $172,000 to her campaign. In addition, she has received contributions from National Republican organizations directed by Mr. Davis including $300,000 to the Fairfax and Prince William’s counties Republican Party committees, who in turn donated money and office space to Mrs. Davis; $55,616 from the National Republican Congressional Committee when her husband was Chair, $5,000 from the Republican Main Stream Partnership, and $5,000 from Tom Delay’s ARMPAC.

Tom Davis was never a member of ALEC because he did not hold a state Senate or House seat –going straight from a rather obscure position upon the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to the U.S. House.  However as cited above, his wife was an ALEC member and through her, Tom Davis established and used ALEC and the Cabal to advance his career in politics and personal life – after he resigned from the House in 2008.  Together Tom Davis and his wife was quite a pair in both politics and business;“Jeannemarie Devolites-Davis, was one of the first hires (as a part-time consultant) for ICG, a firm that assists businesses in obtaining government contracts. Their financial relationship, along with financial ties that benefit family members of 64 of the 435 voting members of Congress, was highlighted in the June 2007 ethics report, “Family Affair” by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

Ms. Davis is now a partner at ICG and last year was appointed by Virginia Governor McDonnell as Virginia’s Liaison Officer (Washington D.C.).  At ICG Davis’ work includes:

“[S]he is instrumental in coordinating conferences that bring together key government and industry executives for substantive discussions of government management and information sharing, and consulting with government contracting clients in both the federal and state sectors. Additionally, she is a featured speaker on subjects of intergovernmental relations; state policy and political processes; and management of technology and health enterprise, both nationally and internationally.”

After leaving office Tom Davis joined Deloitte Consulting in their Washington, D.C. office taking his place beside another ALEC alumni, Tom Ridge. Davis currently serves as President and CEO of the Republican Main Street Partnership and also started teaching a class at George Mason University (another frequent recipient of millions in Koch funding), teaching “Southern Politics” in the 2008 Fall Semester.  GMU is recipient of large Koch contributions:

Since 1985, George Mason University (GMU), and its associated institutes and centers, has received more funding from the Koch Family Charitable Foundations than any other organization—a total of $29,604,354.  The George Mason University Foundation has received the most funding, $20,297,143, while the Institute for Humane Studies [Koch’s Intern program] has been directly given $3,111,457, the Mercatus Center $1,442,000, and George Mason University itself has received $4,753,754.

“In addition to financial ties, Koch also has personnel involvement with the university.  Richard Fink, the vice president of Koch Industries, Inc., and the former president of the Charles G. Koch Foundation and the Claude R. Lambe Foundation, serves on the board of directors of the George Mason University Foundation and the Mercatus Center.

Obviously the Davis’ both fit comfortably within the ALEC/Koch led privatization agenda that has been pursued for years now.

In 2006 Senate co-Sponsor of this legislation impacting the USPS was Susan Collins (R ME) who has ties to Koch money and is also supporting Koch’s EPA deregulation and environmental denial of climate change.

Now we turn to the incentive for ALEC and the Koch led cabal’s interest in privatizing the USPS.  We don’t have to look very far from the core membership of ALEC itself and two of their more prestigious and long time members who are now or in the past held seats upon ALEC’s Private Enterprise Board – UPS and FedEx.

One of ALEC’s “Model Legislative” bills was the “Unfunded Pension Liabilities Accounting Act” which ties in nicely with the provisions included in the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act as well as current and ongoing attacks upon public sector government workers; teachers, firefighters, police and the union groups they belong to.

With the USPS taking in $67 billion a year in income, they are a highly attractive target to private business competitors – similar to US expenditures on education and payments into Social Security and Medicate – and it appears the Cabal targeted the USPS for private takeover – way back in 1996.

One of the charts (USPS Future Business Model) found in VLTP’s
ALEC and Federal Government and Corrupt Practices” report, reflects an upheaval began within the USPS in 2006 and has continued to wreak havoc as more and more of their gross annual income has been taken from the profit column(s) and put into the loss column(s).  Most of this has been due to required health benefit (RHB) and pension account prefunding and a steadily rising increase in health care costs which the USPS pays 79% of for 571,000+ employees.

Rising healthcare costs, employment and fending off privatization are key issues the Obama Administration has been attempting to wrap arms around since 2008 and each of these issues have been opposed every inch of the way by Republicans. The USPS represents a clear example of a convergence of those three core arguments slowly destroying one of the oldest government institutions in our country.

Since 2006 when the USPS began setting aside $5.6 billion per year for prefunding the pension account as mandated by Collins’ and Davis’ co-sponsored legislation, both UPS and FedEx have experienced considerable growth along with increases in income and stock prices. This amount of money taken from sales and set aside for pensions denies an ability for the USPS to reinvest, update or upgrade equipment – and eliminates their capacity to continue to compete against chief private corporate competitors – UPS and FedEx.

In 2006 UPS’ gross income was given as $47.55 billion and by the end of last year that had risen to $49.55 billion.  FedEx figures for the years 2007 – 2011 show that in that period their gross revenue increased from $35.21 billion to $ 39.3 billion.

Figures show the change in common stock holder investment for FedEx from 2006 to 2007 (the first year the USPS was required to fund forward the pension account) increased by 10%.  From 2007 to 2008 that same common stock holder investment increased another 15%.  So in just the first two years following passage of legislation requiring the USPS set aside billions in pension pre-funding, investors with FedEx stock saw a 25% increase in the value of their investment(s).

Looking at Yahoo Finance we find that currently FedEx has “holdings” in several multinational and huge US corporations.  These stock holdings include; Coca-Cola, Reynolds American, ConocoPhillips, General Electric, First Energy Corporation and Chevron.  Besides being huge companies, what do all of those above have in commonality?  They’re all members or benefactors/sponsors of ALEC.  Just taking FedEx as one example we can quickly see how all of ALEC’s members are making money off of each other through investments that are enhanced by the pro-corporate legislation put out through ALEC, especially at the federal level.

What did ALEC’s members do with some of their “earnings?”  They contributed to the campaigns of those who assisted them to make so much money, encouraging legislators to generate even more profits.  Take the USPS legislation co-sponsor Susan Collins for example: in 2006 she received $146,638 in donations from; UPS ($22,168), Verizon, ($15,221), AT&T ($12,000), GlaxoSmithKline ($11,999) and MBNA Corporation ($85,250).  Don’t know who MBNA is?

“MBNA Corp is the nation’s top credit card company and one of the world’s biggest finance companies. The company was also the biggest campaign contributor to the Bush-Cheney ticket during the 2000 election cycle and has been one of the Republican Party’s most generous contributors over the last decade. For the last five years, MBNA has been pressing lawmakers to pass legislation that would make it harder for individuals to file bankruptcy—a bill that, if approved, stands to earn MBNA at least $100 million in additional revenues each year, according to press reports. The bank has lobbied against legislation to protect consumer privacy rights and was a leading proponent of banking deregulation.”

(All of the foregoing pursuits by MBNA are key ALEC initiatives).

In 2008 we have to add Davis and Ridge’s Deloitte Consulting, along with Pfizer, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Time Warner to the list of ALEC related contributors to Collins.

Reviewing Tom Davis’ listing on Open Secrets found many ALEC members contributing to his campaigns as well.

In November 2011, Susan Collins and Joe Lieberman of the Senate Homeland and Governmental Affairs Committee came up with proposals to help keep the USPS solvent and continue 6 day mail delivery for at least two more years.  In the article it hints at the fact that the USPS has “overpaid” $7 billion into the Federal Employee Retirement System and the committee is agreeing to allow them access to that money to help pay down the $8 billion USPS lost last year.  Again, this prefunding is what drove them into such huge annual “losses” leaving the appearance that the agency is unstable – unable to operate at a break even rate, if not realize an actual return on their expenditures.  We should all note that at most US Post Office facilities FedEx and/or UPS have “collection boxes” on the premises – sort of like having your two top competitors sitting on your doorstep as customers approach.

Looking at Lieberman’s 2006 campaign contributions there are no ALEC members who contributed.  For 2012 that’s changed (though he is not running for re-election), with Blue Cross, AT&T, Verizon and FedEx joining the ranks of corporate campaign contributors to Lieberman’s campaign.

Republican politicians began calling for privatizing the USPS in 2003 and looking for a way to “reform” it in the same manner they have since with education, Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid and pushed for “reforms” of those programs they consider entitlements. In all of these programs Republican politicians have sought cures through privatization.  In each case Republicans have cut funding or subsidies for each program, causing their activities to suffer to the extent necessary to allow for passage of legislation to privatize these government programs.

The USPS is no different.  For more than 7 years now the cabal has hinted at and made changes to make privatization of the U.S. Mail system appear inevitable.  In May of this year Business Insider published an article; “11 Things You Should Know About The U.S. Postal Service Before It Goes Bankrupt.”  In this article the author argues privatization of the USPS is in order and cites other international mail services as an example of how such privatization “works” in countries like Japan, Germany and Sweden.  The article claims:

“Despite the agency’s economic woes, the 250,000-member American Postal Workers Union negotiated a cushy labor deal with the USPS in March. The four-and-a-half-year agreement extends the no-layoff provision and provides a 3.5% raise over the period of the contract, as well as seven uncapped cost-of-living increases. A USPS spokeswoman told Businessweek the agency agreed to the terms because it feared an arbitrator might be even more deferential to the union.

“In general, postal service employees enjoy more expensive benefits than most public-sector workers. USPS covers 79% of its employees’ health benefits, compared to the 72% typical for most federal workers.”

Doesn’t this argument mirror those we’ve been hearing lately from Republicans about public sector workers in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and other states?  The same rhetoric espoused by Governors such as Scott Walker, John Kasich, Mitch Daniels and Rick Scott of Florida to justify their attacks upon public sector Unions?  Did you know all are either ALEC Alumni, co-founder (Kasich) or affiliates of ALEC and the Koch brothers?

As an example of how these defunding attacks are used to manipulate, consider that in 2010 Governor Scott of Florida cut $1.75 billion from Florida’s Education budget.  This withholding of necessary funding resulted in an appearance of continued failing by educators and school systems, operating without the subsidies needed for proper education.  This made it possible for Florida Republicans to push for and pass ALEC styled education “reforms” that allow an increase in Charter schools, a voucher system and other changes affecting public education.  This year Scott announced he is adding $1 billion to the education budget.  Much of that increase will be used to pay for Charter schools, vouchers, “required” digital classes and other changes brought about by the changes in Education legislation.  Taxpayer dollars earmarked for education will thus find their way into the corporate coffers of ALEC companies setting up the Charter schools, providing the software for the digital (Internet) classes and private non-Charter schools.

With the same agenda applied to the Postal Service (as shown above) it is obvious the attacks upon it will result in privatization.  Funding that has been cut from the USPS – or diverted to RHB funding – will be returned to the private companies who acquire the USPS contract, and be considered “profits” as our mail service costs will increase to help increase the profit margin.

Now I – and I hope you – have a better understanding of how organized the attack upon the USPS has been, who developed and funded this attack and what the end purpose to it is – profit through control and privatization.  As 2012 approaches I see a clear duty to go to the polls and vote against any incumbent who is or has been identified as a member of ALEC or has been on the receiving end of Koch money.  I also see a genuine need for transparency in all legislation at the state and federal level, so voters can easily see what the proposed laws are and who is writing them and for what purpose.

Koch and ALEC’s form of privatization isn’t really privatization at all.  What they truly want and have labeled as “Privatization” is in reality a Corporatocracy – the transfer of government services, holdings and responsibilities to corporate control.  If allowed to pursue their agenda unopposed, the federal government will end up being operated in the same manner as private prison operations – at an increased cost with lesser services and fewer avenues of recourse available to those who would complain.

Political Target: The United States Postal Service

From The Ed Show:

“It is still amazing that so few people understand this story. Everyone needs to spread the word on this story. The USPS is not directly supported by taxpayers. If not for the law passed by a lame duck Congress in 2006, the Postal Service would not be required to fund 75 years of pensions in a ten year window. The USPS would be turning millions in profit every year. And if regulations were relaxed, the postal service would be able to compete on a level playing field.”

Please click here to watch the video and read the comments

American Legislative Exchange Council – Federal Government and Corrupt Practices

This is a report issued by VLTP in November of 2011.  This work represents more than 2 years of deep research involving a handful of researchers who belong to VLTP’s sister group, American Legislative Transparency Project (ALTP) at the Daily Kos.

This report provides an in-depth analysis of ALEC’s involvement and influences at the federal level of our government.  Some of the mechanisms used by ALEC to facilitate passage of federal legislation important to them and their corporate members are identified.  Beginning in 2005 ALEC created a tenth task force specifically for influencing the U.S. Congress through their “alumni” serving as Senators and Representatives.

Organizations, foundations and think tanks funded and controlled by individuals such as Charles and David Koch are identified as well as their roles in advancing ALEC and the Koch conservative agenda.  The mechanisms, individuals and procedures used to promote pro-corporate initiatives are all here in this report.

For those wishing to understand precisely how and why our Congress has been so dysfunctional and unwilling to work together over the past decade, this will serve as an explanation.  We encourage any ALEC research group or individuals reporting on ALEC to read this 77 page report that is filled with links, documentation and factual statistics, names and other important information on the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Below is a partial listing from the Introduction…

ALEC Alumni Forum
By 2001 ALEC had a large active membership comprised of state lawmakers and corporate representatives and lobbyists. They had been successfully developing and implementing legislation at the state level for more than a quarter century. Many of their members had moved on to positions within the federal government or had been elected to Congress over the years. In an effort to increase their successful influence, ALEC began to advance their initiatives at the federal level. To facilitate this, ALEC created a “Forum” where state (members) and federal (alumni) lawmakers could interact and work to advance ALEC’s conservative, free market, pro-corporate initiatives and legislation at the Congressional level.
Federal Forum Task Force
With success brought about at the federal level through their Alumni Forum ALEC created an actual tenth “Task Force” in 2005. This TF was officially co-chaired by two ALEC alumni: one Senator and one House member. Their duties are to advance the initiatives presented at the state level directly to the U.S. Congress and to lobby in both Houses on behalf of these issues. They have successfully brought about the enactment of federal laws through this TF utilizing ALEC‘s numerous alumni and lobbying.
Influencing and Corrupting the Federal Judiciary
Free trips for state and federal judges with pro-corporate seminars given by think tanks, corporate executives and associates is discussed with links, facts and names involved. Influence upon and associations with key SCOTUS Justices are divulged. Research reveals more than five hundred judges have willingly taken these excursions and attended the pro-corporate seminars.

Anyone wishing more information or have information they would like to share about ALEC/Koch, please contact us via info@vltp.net.