ALEC attacks pay hikes for America’s hardest hit, most vulnerable families


by Brian Washington

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The wealthy corporate funders who make up the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the right wing state politicians who love getting wined and dined by them are reportedly joining forces again to rob the “little guy”—working Americans.

According to recent news reports, ALEC is launching a campaign to block minimum wage increases in several cities across the country through legislation or litigation. The strategy was hatched in December at ALEC’s Washington, D.C. meeting, which involved three days of backroom dealing between wealthy business tycoons like billionaires Charles and David Koch, also known as the Koch brothers, and state politicians like the ones caught on tape last year in Arizona being given the VIP treatment by ALEC lobbyists at a high-priced restaurant.

The Guardian reported the story last month and did a good job of laying out how ALEC courts politicians at the state level to do its bidding to bolster the top of the nation’s income scale, the 1-percent:

It (ALEC) acts as a form of dating service, bringing together large corporations—such as the oil empire of the right wing tycoons the Koch brothers—with state legislators who can introduce new legislation, sometimes copied whole-cloth, that is favorable to such businesses.

ALEC also has a sister-group, the American City County Exchange (ACCE), which is carrying out ALEC’s mission at the city and county levels.

According to The Guardian, those in attendance at the December meeting stated they are losing the minimum wage argument and they appear to be right. A recent national poll shows that six out of 10 Americans—more than half—want a higher minimum wage.

Minimum wage campaigns have proven successful in places like Seattle, where voters approved a $15 minimum wage. A similar hike has also been granted in San Francisco. Chicago has introduced a $13 minimum wage while the cities of Los Angeles and San Diego plan on phasing in approved wage increases. Wage hikes have been approved in red states as well, including South Dakota and Arkansas.

Meanwhile, WalMart, which used to be a member of ALEC, has also agreed to raise its base rate to $9 an hour for about 40 percent of its employees. This after the company was on the receiving end of a huge round of public criticism for its notoriously low wages.

However, to counter this momentum, ALEC has what it calls the Living Wage Mandate Preemption Act, model legislation with deceptive and seemingly-innocuous language written by ALEC and its corporate sponsors. ALEC will use its power and influence to get the bill approved by state legislatures nationwide.

In addition, The Guardian is also reporting that ALEC members are being encouraged to bring lawsuits to stop local governments from introducing pay increases. ALEC wants small business owners to be the face of its kill-the-minimum-wage campaign and want them say that minimum wage hikes threaten their businesses and establishments.

Click here to get more information about ALEC, public education, and the issues that impact families and communities.

Reader Comments

  1. Minimum wage rates are understandable & agreeable on certain levels. However, what we really should be fighting for first is a mandatory minimum wage for every person with a 4 year college degree or higher. We have many college graduates who have difficulty paying back exorbitant student loans because they are not hired at a reasonable pay rate that they have earned and deserve. Why should someone who went to college be earning the same pay as someone who didn’t?

  2. Minimum wage jobs have nothing to do with supporting a family, welfare, or supporting education. Minimum wage jobs are meant to allow kids and other part time workers the opportunity to make a few dollars in order to have the ability to either save some money for a future purchase, or purchase something they do not need but want to have. If a parent is working at a minimum wage job trying to support a family, they need to examine why and how they have gotten themselves into such a position and work to improve their educational background and circumstances so they are not dependent upon minimum wage jobs. Those who support allowing illegal aliens to stay in this country are abetting the continuation of low paying jobs. If this country continues to allow illegals to stay here, those people will continue to perform essentially what are unskilled jobs for very low pay (and often untaxed and unregulated), resulting in legitimate jobs being filled by legitimate workers at low pay rates. The continuation of whining about low paying jobs sounds like an Elizabeth Warren cocktail party where everyone pretends that turning the USA into a socialist state would cure all ills: while the party goers sip champagne and secretly covet the idea they wish they were richer than they already are.

    America is opportunity, not handouts. Those who are successful have no obligation to support people who do not demonstrate the effort and desire to improve themselves. Their real obligation is to promote self reliance and commitment to self improvement, not more efficient ways for the government to hand out money.

  3. Through the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, global corporations and state politicians vote behind closed doors to try to rewrite state laws that govern our rights. These so-called “model bills” reach into almost every area of American life and often are directly beneficial to huge corporations…not to small business and especially not for us….ALEC and its law-breaking, corrupt ogres should be run out of the USA. They are a disease that can’t be cured…

  4. We may assume that Republicans just don’t get it. I have arrived at a different conclusion about Republicans. And that is: they definitely do get it. They know going in, exactly what their policies are going to do.

    They advocate for policy that will shrink and imbalance the economy, cost jobs, depress wages, create deficits, and slow economic growth, while making the very rich a lot richer, the poor, and middle class workers a lot worse off, and ultimately, leave the largest banks, retailers, and manufactures with more of the market share, more control over wages, more deregulation, and lower corporate taxes. And they accomplish all this, with a simplistic little lie; “It’s not us, it’s the government.”

    This disingenuous narrative, which none of the Governors presiding over their states initiated, was created, on a National basis, for right wing politicians across the nation by so called Conservative Think Tanks like ALEC with the help of advertising, polling specialists, and professional wordsmiths like Frank Luntz. It is an opportunistic narrative based on the theorem; “Never let a crisis created by our slavish devotion to the mega rich go to waste.” And since the great recession, it has been a narrative that has served them well, and brought them political power beyond their wildest dreams. It has given them license to carry out their deepest, most ardent agendas in plain sight of the public, and the press, and has left the economists who call them out, either relegated to the pages of wonky investor magazines, filing reports to government agencies, or drowned out by sheer political purchase power in their dissemination of their message. These economists are cast in the same light as other “free market haters,” who would contradict their narrative. Scientists and educators alike are all labeled as socialist malcontents, “Trying to divide the Country along imaginary lines of race, and class.” Their claim, “Businesses are suffering under the same heavy yoke of “out of control government taxing and spending as everyone. And, if we just concentrate all our efforts on reducing the size of government, and weaning some people’s unnecessary dependence on it, we could be that Country our Forefathers always meant us to be.”

    What a divisive crock! But as someone once said, “Never tell a small lie, they won’t believe it!” When the numbers come in, and they will come in, and they refute the narrative, they’ll double down; claim budgets and taxes, just haven’t been cut enough, and that we’ve been obstructed by the devotees of big government- enemies of Liberty and Freedom, by Communists, by the trade unions, and other powerful forces on the Left that work to keep people addicted to government welfare instead of jobs. You know; the jobs they traded to sweatshops in exchange for higher Wall Street yields. Or perhaps they’ll push the old, “It’s the Kenyan born President’s fault who doesn’t actually love America the way “we” love America. Then, the lower the job numbers, the higher the deficits, and the bigger the failures of their corporate profit protecting policies become, they can just be used as deceptive props for their new sales pitch, and the Ponzi scheme to stay the course continues, ad infinitum.

    So the question is not whether or not this will all fall apart; Ponzi Schemes always do. The question is; when it does, how many regular working Americans will be terribly harmed by it all? I suspect, mainly because of the increased influence of money on the entire political process, and the rapidity with which a global economy is able to transfer huge sums of wealth, and millions of jobs across the planet, the damage here could be quite severe indeed. Will it be for certain? I couldn’t hazard a guess. How about you? And how bad do you believe it will need to get?

  5. State governments and the federal government can increase minimum wage now to a level that matches the economy from the time period of about 15 years ago, or those governmental bodies can continue to pay for state and federal services such as aid to dependent children or food stamps. Why have our taxes increased for these special services instead of just having corporations finally pay their fair share? Corporate taxes have declined to the point of where their taxes currently match what they paid in the 1950s. Guess who picked up the slack–local and state residents in our state taxes. When will we start holding corporations accountable for their fair share? Using the excuse that the “small business person” can’t handle it is an EXCUSE. The data show that most of the businesses are actually NOT SMALL–but instead large. Pay your fair share businesses!

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