Sunday, July 31, 2011

Congress needs to deal with tax dodgers

Orginal Link:

By Chuck Collins

If the companies that offshore their profits and design tax scams paid their fair share, we might not have a budget crisis.

Like a pack of men in suits mud wrestling, Washington’s budget battle would be entertaining to watch if we the people weren’t about to get hurt. The zeal of Republican lawmakers and their compliant counterparts in the Democratic Party to slash spending on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other essential programs will lower the quality of life and take a toll on public health.

Off to the side of the mud pit, however, is a $1 trillion idea that would support patriotic U.S. businesses, discourage job exports and restore fairness to our tax system. It’s an idea that already commands wide public support. It deserves broad bipartisan political support, too.

In the past two weeks, congressional leaders led by Democrats Carl Levin of Michigan in the Senate and Lloyd Doggett of Texas in the House have introduced an updated “Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act.” Their proposal would shut down the offshore tax loopholes that encourage corporate tax dodging.

Over the last year, we’ve learned that dozens of profitable and prominent U.S. companies pay either no or very low corporate income taxes. These include Verizon, General Electric, Boeing, and Amazon. One of their common gimmicks is to shift profits to subsidiaries in low-tax or no-tax countries like the Cayman Islands. They pretend corporate profits pile up “offshore” while their losses accrue in the United States, reducing or eliminating their obligation to Uncle Sam.

Yet these companies use our infrastructure, hire workers trained in our schools, and depend on the U.S. court system to protect their property. Our military defends their assets, yet they are not paying their share of the bill.

Corporate tax dodging hurts Main Street firms that are forced to compete on an unlevel playing field. “Why should we be subsidizing U.S. multinationals that use offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes?” asked Frank Knapp, CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce.

The Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act would end tax games that are costly, harmful to domestic U.S. businesses and workers, and blatantly unfair to those of us who pay our fair share of taxes.

The offshore system has spawned a huge tax-dodging industry. Its teams of lawyers and accountants add nothing to the efficiency of markets or products. Instead of making a better widget, companies invest in designing a better tax scam. Reports about General Electric’s storied tax dodging dramatize the ways that modern multinationals view their tax departments as profit centers.

The federal budget concerns and a growing public awareness of corporate tax avoidance promises to focus greater attention on this proposal than past years.

As leaders in Congress debate how to wring out $2 trillion to $4 trillion in deficit reductions over the next decade, this legislation should be at the top of the bipartisan list. The Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act would generate an estimated $100 billion in revenues every year. That’s $1 trillion over the next decade.

Lawmakers should also reject calls, currently being debated in Congress, for a tax holiday for corporate tax dodgers. A coalition of global companies, including Google, Apple, and Pfizer, have stashed an estimated $1.2 trillion in profits offshore. They want to “repatriate” their profits at drastically reduced tax rates.

Congress should oppose a “tax holiday” for tax dodgers. Instead of rewarding fiscally irresponsible behavior, lawmakers should fix the cause of the problem and outlaw tax haven abuse.

No More Budget Cuts Without Tax Fairness

Original Link:

By Chuck Collins

10 years on, the Bush tax cuts are a disaster—and we’re contemplating more tax breaks for the wealthy. How can we stop the madness?

GOP candidate Tim Pawlenty observed the 10th anniversary of the Bush-era tax cuts by proposing $2 trillion in additional tax cuts, primarily for millionaires and global corporations.

Have we learned nothing?

A decade since their passage, its clear that the Bush tax were a $2.5 trillion mistake that put us on the road to fiscal instability.

At the time they were passed, Congressional budget analysts projected a $5.6 trillion surplus over these last ten years. But even after the rosy projections turned to red ink, the tax cut bonanza continued. As a result, Congress engaged in a “decade of magical tax cut thinking,” responding to the deep economic challenges of the last ten years with a one-point program: cut taxes for the wealthy and expand tax loopholes for global corporations.

Public opinion polls reveal that over 72 percent of the public favors increasing taxes on millionaires and closing tax loopholes before further budget cuts.

In 2001, Bob McIntyre of the group Citizens for Tax Justice argued that the tax cuts were a bad idea—that they were overly tilted to benefit the rich—and would eventually lead to deficits. Last week, in the face of massive deficits and deep cuts to crucial programs, CTJ released a report projecting that another ten-year extension of the Bush tax cuts would cost $5.5 trillion.

“There are some in Congress who believe that the best way to deal with the struggling economy right now is to extend the tax cuts and see if they work the second time around,” said McIntyre. “They didn’t work the first time, and they aren’t going to work the second time.”

A report from the Economic Policy Institute points out that the Bush tax cuts cost over $2.5 trillion over the last decade. An estimated 38 percent of those tax cuts—almost $1 trillion—went to households in the richest 1 percent, those with incomes over $645,000. Tax cut beneficiaries include some of the highest paid CEOs in America.

Bleak Moment or Emerging Movement?

At first glance, the prospects for shifting this anti-tax environment appear bleak. GOP presidential candidates and Congressional leaders are beating the same drum: “We’re broke,” “Deficits Kill Jobs,” “Must Cut Taxes…”

Behind the headlines, however, public attitudes are shifting. A growing number of citizens are taking on the fundamental unfairness of the current tax system. They see how growing inequality is destroying the middle class and contributing to economic instability.

Citizens want a responsive government that includes retirement security, environmental protection, healthy communities, and the wide range of public services that we enjoy.

Historically, public attitudes about taxing the wealthy have been somewhat ambivalent. In the abstract, many U.S. voters are reflexively anti-government and anti-tax. But when it comes down to the concrete ways we use tax revenues, citizens want a responsive government that includes retirement security, environmental protection, healthy communities, and the wide range of public services that we enjoy.

As states and the federal government make deep budget cuts, the things people appreciate about government will start to deteriorate or go away: the bus will be late, the state park closed, the school art department gone, the police unavailable.

Though GOP congressional leaders talk austerity and imply that the only solution to budget deficits are spending cuts, a strong majority of people in the U.S. want to put raising taxes on the table.

Public opinion polls reveal that over 72 percent of the public favors increasing taxes on millionaires and closing tax loopholes before further budget cuts. And support for progressive taxes will only increase as the impact of budget cuts further degrades the quality of life, public services, and infrastructure in our localities.

Revelations that huge corporations and the wealthy are paying historically low tax rates are fueling this public attitude shift. Recent IRS data reveals that the richest 400 U.S. taxpayers have seen their effective tax rates fall to their lowest levels since prior to the 1930s Great Depression. The cover story in Business Week during April’s tax season was “The Billionaires Guide to Paying No Taxes.” And reports that General Electric pays no federal taxes—and that other companies including Verizon, Federal Express, Boeing and bail-out recipient Bank of America pay no or ridiculously low taxes—touch a deep nerve.

The grassroots US Uncut movement has emerged to draw attention to the powerful juxtaposition between budget cuts and corporate tax dodging. As a result, the public conversation is shifting. A year ago, the Tea Party narrative dominated April 2010 tax day. This year, however, the news on Tax Day focused on millionaire and corporate tax deadbeats.

The 10th anniversary of the Bush tax cuts focused new attention on the irresponsibility of further tax cuts. Grassroots groups convened actions and press events around the country to dramatize the link between the tax cuts and local budget cuts that worsen unemployment.

Wisconsin: The First Stop in An American Uprising?

Activists are coalescing around a number of revenue proposals that could raise trillions of dollars over the next ten years. One initiative is the Fairness in Taxation Act, introduced by Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. Her legislation would add additional tax rates for millionaires, generating $74 billion a year. In an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune, Rep. Schakowsky writes, “Middle-class and low-income families didn't create these budget deficits or reap economic rewards over the last generation. So our nation's plan to get our fiscal house in order should not sacrifice the vitality of our middle class and our commitments to address poverty.”

An organized group of 200 millionaire business leaders added their voices to the debate. The Patriotic Millionaires, organized by the Agenda Project and Wealth for the Common Good, released a video message to Congressional leaders to increase taxes on millionaires. “It is self-defeating to pursue these tax policies, and it is inconsistent with our values as Americans,” said Dennis Mehiel, Chairman of US Corrugated at a press conference on the tenth anniversary. “We need to throw out the Bush tax cuts in a hurry and begin the process of restoring some fiscal sanity to the country’s budget.”

Business leaders are also speaking up about troubling economic implications created when global corporations use offshore tax shelters to dodge taxes. Paul Egerman, founder of eScription, wrote in the Madison Capital Times, “it is myopic to require domestic enterprises to compete on an unlevel playing field against another company based not on product quality and services, but on accounting gymnastics.” A new business coalition is backing the Stop Tax Haven Abuse legislation that will be reintroduced later this June.

“It is myopic to require domestic enterprises to compete on an unlevel playing field based not on product quality and services, but on accounting gymnastics.”
-Paul Egerman, eScription

Opposition is also building against the idea, lobbied for by companies like Google, Apple, Pfizer, and Oracle, of a “tax holiday” for corporations that have shifted more than $1 trillion in profits to offshore tax havens—a move that would cost the U.S. Treasury $80 billion. Business for Shared Prosperity is circulating a business sign-on letter to Congress calling on them to “reject demands by U.S. multinationals for a tax holiday to “repatriate” the funds they shifted offshore to avoid paying taxes.” Last week, US Uncut began to challenge Apple Computer for its role in lobbying Congress for a “tax holiday” for corporations that have moved over $1 trillion in corporate profits to offshore tax havens.

The message of these emerging movements is getting louder: No more budget cuts until millionaires and corporate tax dodgers pay their fair share.

America Doesn't Need a Tax-Dodging Industry

Original Link:

By Chuck Collins

If the companies that offshore their profits and design tax scams paid their fair share, we might not have a budget crisis.

Like a pack of men in suits mud wrestling, Washington's budget battle would be entertaining to watch if we the people weren't about to get hurt.

The zeal of Republican lawmakers and their compliant counterparts in the Democratic Party to slash spending on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other essential programs will lower the quality of life in our communities and take a toll on public health.

Off to the side of the mud pit, however, is a $1 trillion dollar idea that would support patriotic U.S. businesses, discourage job exports, and restore fairness to our tax system. It's an idea that already commands widespread public support. It deserves broad bipartisan political support too.

In the last two weeks, congressional leaders, led by Democrats Carl Levin of Michigan in the Senate and Lloyd Doggett of Texas in the House, have introduced an updated version of the "Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act." Their proposal would shut down the offshore tax loopholes that encourage corporate tax dodging.

Over the last year, we've learned that there are dozens of profitable and prominent U.S. companies that pay either no or very low corporate income taxes. These include Verizon, General Electric, Boeing, and Amazon. One of these companies' common gimmicks is to shift profits to subsidiaries in low-tax or no-tax countries like the Cayman Islands. They pretend corporate profits pile up "offshore" while their losses accrue in the United States, reducing or eliminating their company's obligation to Uncle Sam.

Yet these same companies use our public infrastructure, hire workers trained in our schools, and depend on the U.S. court system to protect their property. Our military defends their assets, yet they're not paying their share of the bill. In wartime, the unequal sacrifice and tax shenanigans of these companies are very unseemly.

Corporate tax dodging hurts Main Street firms that are forced to compete on an unlevel playing field. "Why should we be subsidizing U.S. multinationals that use offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes?" asked Frank Knapp, CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce at a press conference where the legislation was introduced.

The Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act would end tax games that are costly, harmful to domestic U.S. businesses and workers, and blatantly unfair to those of us who pay our fair share of taxes. These same offshore systems facilitate criminal activity, from drug money laundering to terrorist financing networks. Smugglers, drug cartels, and even terrorist networks like al-Qaeda thrive in secret offshore jurisdictions where individuals can hide or obscure the beneficial ownership of bank accounts and corporations to avoid any reporting or government oversight.

The offshore system has spawned a huge tax-dodging industry. Its teams of lawyers and accountants add nothing to the efficiency of markets or products. Instead of making a better widget, companies invest in designing a better tax scam. Reports about General Electric's storied tax dodging dramatize the ways that modern multinationals view their tax accounting departments as profit centers.

The combination of federal budget concerns and a growing public awareness of corporate tax avoidance promises to focus greater attention on this proposal than past years.

As leaders in Congress debate how to wring out $2 trillion to $4 trillion in deficit reductions over the next decade, this legislation should be at the top of the bipartisan list. The Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act would generate an estimated $100 billion in revenues every year. That's $1 trillion over the next decade.

Lawmakers should also reject calls, currently being debated in Congress, for a tax holiday for corporate tax dodgers. A coalition of global companies, including Google, Apple, and drug giant Pfizer, have stashed an estimated $1.2 trillion in profits offshore. They want to repatriate their profits at drastically reduced tax rates.

Congress should vigorously oppose a "tax holiday" for these tax dodgers. Instead of rewarding fiscally irresponsible behavior, lawmakers should fix the root cause of the problem and outlaw tax haven abuse.

CEOs to workers: More for me, less for you

Original Link:

By Holly Sklar

Big company CEOs got a 23 percent raise last year and corporate profits are at record highs. But the minimum wage has less buying power now than in 1956 - the year Elvis Presley first topped the charts, videotape was breakthrough technology and the Dow closed above 500 for the very first time.

It's no accident wages are down while corporate profits are up. As JPMorgan's July 11 "Eye on the Market" newsletter put it, "Reductions in wages and benefits explain the majority of the net improvement in (profit) margins... US labor compensation is now at a 50-year low relative to both company sales and US GDP."

The minimum wage sets the floor under wages, and that floor is sinking. The 1956 minimum wage was $8.30, adjusted for inflation.

Today's minimum wage is $7.25 - just $15,080 annually.

CEOs make more in a few hours than minimum wage workers who care for children, the ill and the elderly make in a year. Median CEO pay was $10.8 million last year among 200 big companies measured by Equilar.

The $15,080 minimum wage workers have for rent, groceries, transportation, medicine and everything else for the year doesn't even buy 2 pounds of the imported caviar featured in the Forbes Cost of Living Extremely Well Index.

The last increase in the minimum wage to $7.25 on July 24, 2009, was so little so late it left workers 30 percent below the minimum wage peak of $10.38 in 1968 - $21,590 annually - in 2011 dollars.

Today's retail clerks, health aides, child care workers, restaurant workers, security guards and other minimum wage workers have $6,500 less in annual buying power than their 1968 counterparts.

That doesn't help our corner stores, our communities or our national economy. It hurts.

We didn't have to go backwards. U.S. income grew $11,684 on average between 1969 and 2008, the year Wall Street drove our economy off a cliff. But there was nothing average about the actual income distribution. Every dime of income growth went to the top 10 percent. Income for the bottom 90 percent declined.

Compare that to the period between 1917 (when the data began) and 1968. Income growth averaged $26,574. The top 10 percent got 31 percent of that growth. The bottom 90 percent got 69 percent.

You can't have a strong middle class or a strong economy if the bottom 90 percent gets none of the nation's income growth.

If the minimum wage had stayed above the $10.38 value it had in 1968, it would have put upward pressure - rather than downward pressure - on the average worker wage. Wal-Mart and McDonald's, our nation's largest employers, couldn't routinely pay $7.25 or a little above.

McDonald's wages would be more like In-N-Out Burger, which has an entry wage of $10 plus good benefits and beats McDonald's and other fast food chains in the new Consumer Reports ratings for food, service, value and speed. Wal-Mart's wages would be closer to Costco, which pays starting wages of $11, has the lowest employee turnover in retail, doesn't need to spend money on advertising and outperforms Wal-Mart.

The 2010 American Values Survey found that 67 percent of Americans supported increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.

Critics routinely oppose minimum wage increases in good times and bad, claiming wrongly they will increase unemployment. The most rigorous studies of the impact of actual minimum wage increases, including two studies published recently in the journal Industrial Relations and the Review of Economics and Statistics, show they do not cause job losses - whether during periods of economic growth or recession.

In the words of John Shepley, co-owner of Emory Knoll Farms in Maryland and a member of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage: "The notion that raising the minimum wage will kill jobs is just bunk. People at the lower end of earnings tend to spend 100 percent of their after-tax income. They put it right back into local businesses buying food, clothing, car repairs and other necessities. ... When the minimum wage is too low it not only impoverishes productive workers, it weakens the key consumer demand at the heart of our local economy."

It's time to stop stuffing the penthouse of the economy with gold and rebuild the crumbling foundation.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Unnecessary Austerity, Unnecessary Shutdown

Original Link:

By Chuck Collins, Alison Goldberg, Scott Klinger, Sam Pizzigati

Reversing tax giveaways to the super-rich and the nation's largest corporations could raise $4 trillion within a decade and avert possible government closures.

"We're broke."

Or so claim governors and lawmakers all over the country. Our states and our nation can no longer afford, their plaint goes, the programs and services that Americans expect government to provide. We must do with less. We need "austerity."

But we're not broke. Not even close. The United States of America is awash in wealth. Our corporations are holding record trillions in cash. And overall individual wealth in the United States, the Credit Suisse Research Institute reported this past fall, has risen 23 percent since the year 2000, to $236,213 per American adult.

We have, these indicators of overall wealth suggest, survived the Great Recession quite nicely. So how can average families — and the national, state, and local governments that exist to serve them — be doing so poorly? Why do "deficits" dominate our political discourse? What explains the red-ink hurricane now pounding government budgets at every level?

This Tax Day report identifies two prime drivers behind our current budget "squeeze."

One, we have indeed become wealthier than ever. But our wealth has become incredibly more concentrated at our economic summit. U.S. income is cascading disproportionately to the top.

Two, we are taxing the dollars that go to our ever-richer rich — and the corporations they own — at levels far below the tax rates that America levied just a few decades ago. We have, in effect, shifted our tax burden off the shoulders of those most able to bear it and away from those who disproportionately benefit from government investments the most.

These two factors — more dollars at the top, significantly lower taxes on these dollars — have unleashed a fiscal nightmare. Can we wake up in time to avoid the crippling austerity that so many of our political leaders insist we must accept?

This report offers both an analysis of our current predicament and a series of proposals that can help open our eyes to a far more equitable — and brighter — future.

Key Tax Facts

• 15,753: The number of households in 1961 with $1 million in taxable income (adjusted for inflation).
• 361,000: The number of households in 2011 estimated to have $1 million in taxable income.
• 43.1: Percent of total reported income that Americans earning $1 million paid in taxes in 1961 (adjusted for 2011 dollars)
• 23.1: Percent of total reported income that Americans earning $1 million are likely to pay in taxes in 2011, estimated from latest IRS data.
• 47.4: Percent of profits corporations paid in taxes in 1961.
• 11.1: Percent of profits corporations paid in taxes in 2011.

No Ideal Republican/Tea Party, Bought and Paid for By the Libertarian Party, Could Care Less About A Compromise

Original Link:


Even the Debt Ceiling Proposal, Cut, Cap, Balance you hear Eric Cantor and Republicans brag about is also the one and same Cut, Cap, Balance Pledge they took with FreedomWorks, which by the way originated from and had its name changed from ‘Citizen for a Sound Economy’ the group created and founded by Libertarian David H. Koch and Charles G. Koch. (Koch Brothers Founders of FreedomWorks, the Group Responsible for New Cut, Cap, Balance Pledge Republicans are Signing) ,a earlier blog. Instead of doing what is right for the country this is more about how to please Libertarians like the Koch Brothers and Grover Norquist, and not a Republican Party willing to compromise on anything. In all these talk about the debt ceiling, your Republicans running for President have gone missing on this topic in-spite the fact the debt ceiling is now the concern of your average citizen. For many years Republicans and Democrats have raised the debt ceiling and it went unnoticed by most. There was none of the grand standing and brick wall we have today. Americans should take that as a forewarning to come, especially when you know from your Federal and State elected Republicans in office have become a Party of Puppets with only a few puppet masters pulling the strings. And as good puppets your Republican leaders across the country federal, state, and local have signed pledges to both the Libertarian Koch brothers, Libertarian Grover Norquist, or groups created by Libertarians. The power, influence and direction from the Libertarian Party does not stop or begin just with a pledge. This has been years in the making and after President Obama took office it seems the Koch Brothers and Norquist were determine to make sure Republicans didn’t lose another election. Who else besides but Republicans were going to push the Libertarian Agenda.

Who do you think created the Tea Party? Well it certainly wasn’t the Republicans. The Tea Party was created by the Libertarian Party with the Koch Brothers leading and funding this movement.

There in the middle you will find the Republican/Conservative/GOP Party between Libertarian and the Tea Party.
It seems when you turn on the TV it’s always someone saying ‘Well the Two Parties need to do more to compromise. We need to stop muddying the facts and dealing with the truth that it isn’t more than one Party that is holding up raising the Debt Ceiling, it’s only one. Let’s be honest with ourselves more Americans could accept a proposal that balance cuts and raising taxes, especially on the rich and big business. President Obama said it best we need to pay our fair share. John Boehner, the Libertarians/Tea Party/Republicans have this distorted belief they can balanced this country on all those living Pay Check to Check. When I say Libertarian I refer to Libertarian Grover Norquist and Libertarian Koch Brothers who have a hand in everything running the Republican Party. The American People just want to be able to live in a country committed to uplifting all its citizens and not the very rich. Who ever heard of uplifting the Rich? But than Republicans seem to victimize the rich and big corporations. All this muddying the water and claiming two parties are the cause of all the trouble around debt ceiling make it easier for Republicans to pull these games.

Libertarians, Republicans/Conservative/GOP, and Tea Party are really one in the same but they will tell you different. Trust me they are one in the same, you may have a libertarian Governor but ran as a Republican. For example in the state of South Carolina there are no card identifications saying what Party you and Former Governor of South Carolina is often called a Libertarian. Even former Lt. Governor Andre Bauer, who ran for governor as a Republican in 2010 has been called a libertarian. Libertarian issues and Republicans like Tea Party issues and point of views in general very close at being the same. Libertarians may say the Republicans and the Democrats are doing this and that in Washington, but the reality is Libertarians are really involved in donating money and being a Think Tank to the Republican Party. But that’s not to say Libertarians don’t have dealing with someone who is a Democrat, it’s just they are trying to get you to see the Libertarian view-point.

I have no problem saying Libertarian, Republicans, and Tea Party are one in the same myself they all run for political office as a member of the GOP or Republican, it just maybe each group is maybe more extreme than the other. Perhaps that was the plan of Libertarian Grover Norquist and how the Koch Brothers, to create all these organizations across the country and create all these companies from telecommunications (Koch Brothers) and institutes like the Cato institute such as or become an enforcer like Grover Norquist for throwing their power and influence around Washington during the days of the K Street Gangs, getting Republicans hired as Lobbyists. So for the lack of people who find themselves as Libertarians they make up for it big by buying out Republicans and creating various things that Republicans that continuously turn to time and time again.

Yes the Republicans have created for themselves some powerful organizations, Leadership PACs, but if you look at Joe Wilson of South Carolina while he may own more than PACs His Pacs or any of your people in Congress PACs don’t compare to the amount of donations and the many Pacs, political organization Pacs, the Different company the Koch Brothers own that have Pacs.

Probably one of the Republicans biggest organization with the most influence would seem to be the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which by the way they should not have that much power but they do. They train or coach corporations and state Legislatures on the Conservative Agendas and how to get it passed in their states. ALEC itself help pushed the Voter ID bills many states are pushing and have adopted. AlEC also was a strong contributor in writing the Arizona Controversial Immigration Bill that many Republicans are pushing in their own state.

But of course one of the biggest contributor to ALEC would be Libertarian, Forbe list Billionaires the Koch Brothers. Many have also say much of the agenda pushed by ALEC is the same thing the Koch Brothers are pushing.

The Nation has written an article involving the Koch connection you may find interesting: “ALEC Exposed: The Koch Connection”
“No one knows how much the Kochs have given ALEC in total, but the amount likely exceeds $1 million—not including a half-million loaned to ALEC when the group was floundering. ALEC gave the Kochs its Adam Smith Free Enterprise Award, and Koch Industries has been one of the select members of ALEC’s corporate board for almost twenty years. The company’s top lobbyist was once ALEC’s chairman. As a result, the Kochs have shaped legislation touching every state in the country. Like ideological venture capitalists, the Kochs have used ALEC as a way to invest in radical ideas and fertilize them with tons of cash.”

I also talked about the power of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in a recent blog called “Grover Norquist Power Extends Beyond Americans For Tax Reform, A Brief look at Who is Really Running Your State Legislature and Training Private Companies To Get What they Want”

Every once a while I am reminded how John Boehner in 2010 created a website on tax payers money seeking what they wanted for Congress do. Sure I can understand hearing what the public have to say but clearly Republicans didn’t have clue of their plans were for the country they were running in the 2010 election just to be running. So knowone should be surprise Libertarians are able to take advantage of this.

While John Boehner is in the House gathering votes this evening this morning freshman House Republican, as reported by the AP Press, Joe Walsh of Illinois told the CBS’s “The Early Show” that to many people are focused on the August 2 Deadline, and we shouldn’t commit ourselves too a deadline. Rep. Joe maybe a Freshmen House Republican but I’m pretty sure he has spent enough of an adult life on hear earth, that we have to pay our bills and provided there is usually a due date. He should tell that to the banks for the many people who lost their homes or they are prevented from owning their own home because they couldn’t pay their bills at that due date. Rep. Joe Walsh is considered a Tea Party favorite and thinks the plan doesn’t go far enough.

Interesting thing though when you read into a politicians words and actions and don’t believe in Deadlines how that plays out in life. In another interview with CNN, Tea Party Favorite Wash told CNN, “Thank God congressmen like me were here. Imagine – step back and imagine – if Republicans hadn’t taken over Congress, this city would have raised the debt limit who knows how much.”
CNN reported today that Walsh’s ex-wife Laura Walsh Rep. Joe Walsh has a big debt of his own in the matter of $117,437 in child support. Currently and not surprising that Walsh’s Ex-wife has filed a lawsuit for Child support.

How do you represent the people if you can’t pay for your children.

The AP Press also reported that later today that majority of the 87 freshmen Republican members of the House were on board with the Boehner’s plan.

Hold up on the Vote so far tonight:
But while those are the Freshmen, maybe some of the Veterans are having problems with the Boehner’s plan. Perhaps their constituents have flooded their office but after months of debates they now see the Boehner plan leans heavenly on those that don’t have much to raise the trillions and trillions of dollars needed to raise the debt. People have called this plan and the previous budget of Paul Ryan as playing a great burden on the middle-income and low-income. It shouldn’t have taken months and a few days right before the August 2 deadline to realize this, but that is where we are at as John Boehner this even is still going around to get the votes.

In the midst of all this you have Republican Leaders at one time in history would not have given so obstinate that some compromise could not be work out. This appears to be a culmination over the years of Libertarian’s power and money influence being helped by their investments and Creating the Tea Party that brings us to this point in history. Yes we forget, by the libertarian Party Created the Tea Party and the Libertarian Party runs the Republican Party. Know one I guess except the leadership in the Tea Party know that the Libertarians such as the Koch brothers created them, and they are very far from being an real Grass Root campaign.

Whether by a lack ideals or just greed of money the Republican leadership around the country has been pretty much bought and Paid for.

No wonder we have so much Grid lock in Washington we got to many Political Parties so-call running things in the Republican Party for actual Republicans to bother with compromising with Democrats.

In a modern United States we have Grid locks before but nothing like this where we are gridlocked from one key issue to the next and the American people are getting thrown under the bus to protect the wealthy.

ALEC & Koch's Agenda becomes clearer - as do connections to them...

Original Link:

By Bob Sloan

More privatization in the news and no matter what is being privatized one or more of ALEC's "special friend" corporate members stand to profit from such efforts. In addition we have the Koch's now discovered influencing education provided in our public universities. My my, them folks are certainly working overtime on their agenda, now aren't they?

Last week there was a report from Florida that Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation had "endowed" $1.5 million to a public university - Florida State University. Of course this endowment had a purpose. Charles and David Koch always have a purpose when offering up their money is concerned. One of their many interests is Conservative economics and that is where their efforts are centered regarding the money given to USF. They provided that small sum to the University in exchange for being allowed to approve those applying to teach economics at the college.

So far, the article reports, Koch has declined to approve 60% of those selected by University officials for positions in the Economics Department.

"A foundation bankrolled by Libertarian businessman Charles G. Koch has pledged $1.5 million for positions in Florida State University's economics department. In return, his representatives get to screen and sign off on any hires for a new program promoting "political economy and free enterprise."
"Koch wasted little time in asserting his influence. In 2009, he denied 60 percent of the faculty’s suggestions to fill the positions in the new programs, called the Study of Political Economy and Free Enterprise (SPEFE) and Excellence in Economics Education (EEE). The hires that were made were agreed upon by Koch and the department’s faculty."
reports this article from the St. Petersburg Times.
The above article no sooner hit the newsstands and another came out exposing additional "endowments" provided to Universities and Colleges from Koch's coffers. Alternet reported: "6 Universities With Far-Right Academic Centers Funded by Koch Industries" in this article dated May 12th. They report the following universities with ties to Koch money:

1 - West Virginia University - $480,000
2 - Brown University - $419,254
3 - Troy University - $3.6 million
4 - Utah State University - $700,000
Additionally it mentions George Mason University and the Koch ties to it through the Mercatus Center. Charles Koch is a Mercatus Center Board member.
Now a less informed person might think this kind of philanthropy on behalf of the Koch brothers or their family foundations is a good thing. However, as the articles I've linked to warn us, the Koch's only fund those activities that benefit them. In the case of the endowments to the Universities they are funding activities that have to do with economics, global warming and other EPA related issues. Their purpose is obviously intended to influence educational programs referencing these important issues. They hope by such influence to assist in "teaching" today's students about economics and environmental issues from the conservative far right POV.

Some might also question: what all of this Koch funding of colleges and public Universities has in common with prison privatization and prison industries? Believe it or not - some will and some won't - the same set of characters, players and legislators are also involved in profiting from prison privatization and associated industries using inmate labor. It's bad enough that the corporations and ALEC are involved in expanding criminal laws to increase arrests and thus incarceration, but the fact that they have a willing partner in the U.S. Department of Justice is despicable. Yes, the DOJ is involved in furthering the goals, profits and agendas of ALEC, Koch Industries, Corrections Corporation of America and Geo Group - in regards to imprisonment and profiting from that imprisonment.

Here is a piece of the 7 minute NCIA/DOJ video I've finally managed to record and include in a diary for readers to watch so they can fully understand the seriousness of this profiteering. The full video including the credits linking to the NCIA/BJA/DOJ is found here.

If you noticed early in the full video, a woman describes the work as that "which American workers no longer want to do" and throughout this propaganda film, there is little mention of "training" or actual benefits to the inmate - rather the focus is on reducing costs and increasing profits for the targeted companies shown this film. This is simply more of the agenda put forth by ALEC in their Public Safety "Model Legislations" Privatization and Prison Industries Acts.

The pursuit of profits for ALEC member's CCA and Geo, from imprisonment drove ALEC to conspire on the writing and presenting SB 1070 legislation first in Arizona and now in more than 20 other states. Since the 2010 election cycle they have worked to expand prison privatization in Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio, Maine, Michigan and several other Republican held states. This is similar to the initiatives of ALEC and Koch Industries discrediting global warming and other important EPA claims. They believe if they say it often enough, people will begin to believe their rhetoric...or if not that, the arguments will become so complex and confusing to the public they'll lose interest in the discussion.

This has been their goal and modus operandi since the 1980's and took the form of the Eric Heubeck "Treatise" I have written about over the past couple of months now. Here are just a couple of excerpts from this document:

"New Traditionalists Must Concentrate on Students and Young Adults
"The new movement will inevitably be geared toward children and young adults, especially their education. We will accomplish the goal of retaking our country only when large numbers of young people are educated outside of the indoctrinating environment of many public and private schools, universities, and of course, the popular culture. At this point in their lives, many of their ideas are still in the formative stage, the more so the younger they are. Furthermore, young adults (of college age and above) should be given a large role in the organization of the New Traditionalist movement, as many older people, because of work and family life, simply do not have the time to devote to reading, discussion, and action (and all three are equally important). They also often lack the necessary energy, enthusiasm, and idealism that is prevalent in youth. However, retirees could also make a valuable contribution to the movement.

"College students must be a key audience for our movement, since they are free of excessive time commitments and they find themselves in an environment that (theoretically) encourages activism and exposure to new ideas. We should consider creating alternative fraternities where traditionalists can live, interact with each other, learn from each other, socialize with each other. New Traditionalist fraternities can help replicate lifestyles from the past--emulate "civilized" behavior from the past--by discussing traditionalist ideas, literature, and art, and then acting based on what has been learned. Members of the fraternities and collegiate study groups should build each other up in every possible way: in terms of public speaking skills, debating skills, physical fitness, intellect, manners, aesthetic sense. It is imperative that our ideas be lived and not merely discussed.

"A basic problem is that most bright, creative, dynamic, energetic young people with leadership skills become leftists, and this is why most student leaders--who eventually become the leaders of society--tend to be leftists. New Traditionalist fraternities and collegiate study groups can help reverse that tendency."

Does anyone else see the comparison between this indoctrination and what occurred in Europe in the 30's? I get a sense of "Youth Corp" when reading this. Of course from the philosophical plan, we can readily understand the goal of "investing" money in our public universities by the Koch's many foundations. We are clearly shown that it has nothing to do with philanthropy, rather it has everything to do with furthering their collective Conservative agenda through indoctrinating our youth from their earliest exposure to education through the collegiate level.
It is no longer sufficient for those espousing their personal views that are divergent from the mainstream's through private educational programs. In those instances ALEC and Koch would be preaching to the choir, so to speak. No, they have decided it's time to infect our public education with their rhetoric and agenda to recruit more of our youth to their cause.

Here is more from the "Treatise":

"There will be three main stages in the unfolding of this movement. The first stage will be devoted to the development of a highly motivated elite able to coordinate future activities. The second stage will be devoted to the development of institutions designed to make an impact on the wider elite and a relatively small minority of the masses. The third stage will involve changing the overall character of American popular culture.
"It must be emphasized that this new movement will not be "disengaged" from the wider society, only "differently engaged." We are, quite simply, replacing political activism with cultural activism as the center of our focus. And while the visibility of the new movement will be less pronounced than the existing (political) conservative movement in the short term, the seeds that we now sow will have dramatic repercussions over the long term. We have the capacity to fundamentally transform the face of American culture in the 21st century by following a different path, one built on the aggressive dissemination of our cultural values, rather than the idle hope that enough of our cultural values still remain in the body of the American people to carry us on to a few more isolated electoral victories.

"Our movement will be entirely destructive, and entirely constructive. We will not try to reform the existing institutions. We only intend to weaken them, and eventually destroy them. We will endeavor to knock our opponents off-balance and unsettle them at every opportunity. All of our constructive energies will be dedicated to the creation of our own institutions.

"We must create a countervailing force that is just as adept as the Left at intimidating people and institutions that are used as tools of left-wing activism but are not ideologically committed, such as Hollywood celebrities, multinational corporations, and university administrators. We must be feared, so that they will think twice before opening their mouths. They must understand that there is some sort of cost involved in taking a "controversial" stand--although positions cannot honestly be labeled "controversial" if conservatives are unable to mount a meaningful opposition. Perhaps once we are able to mount such an opposition, we will be able to take some of the trendiness out of leftist cultural activism, because lukewarm advocates of leftist causes will be forced to actually get their hands dirty. Support of leftist causes will no longer be the path of least resistance."

Now we can begin to understand that our current events are driven and coordinated by this cabal with ALEC at it's core. Collective bargaining, Union-Busting, Right to Work legislation, school voucher programs, expanding of privatized prisons and prison industries. This collective has sought to downplay global warming, carbon emissions and fought against election reforms, social programs, Medicare, Social Security and also importantly, abortion.

By legislating the slashing of public funding for education - nationwide - they have made it necessary for school authorities to seek funding elsewhere to make up the loss in state appropriations. When University officials go looking for funding...there stands David and Charles Koch and their huge conglomerate of think tanks, PAC's and foundations, holding out their checkbooks and flashing crooked and sinister grins. Collectively they should be seen as the Potter character in "It's A Wonderful Life ."

I think it's time the U.S. Department of Education begins to take a hard look at the funding being provided to our public colleges and universities. At their site they provide information on "improper payments" and provide a form to fill out for reporting fraud, abuse or waste involving funding and have an Office of Inspector General. I would think this is something that should be followed up with the DOE looking into the payments/endowments made to collegiate institutions by the likes of Charles and David Koch, their foundations or affiliated think tanks. The strings attached to such "endowments" allowing them to influence the hiring or retention of instructors and further requiring the reading of controversial material should be investigated and found too controlling:

"A separate grant from BB&T funds a course on ethics and economics in which Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged is required reading. The novel, which depicts society's collapse in the wake of government encroachment on free enterprise, was recently made into a movie marketed to tea party members."
As the article on this reported, BB&T has joined with Koch to help raise $6.6 million for graduate "fellowships." I truly believe that in instances where private companies, corporations or individuals are shown to be providing money to public educational institutions in exchange for the hiring of personnel that will advance a particular personal and "theoretical" belief over what is generally held by the mainstream public, there should be a thorough investigation. Any attempt to introduce a minority opinion "theory" as fact by controlling the dissemination of materials and educational training of college students, is a dangerous and troubling act.
We see similar activities - involving the Kochs and other Conservatives - regarding global warming and other topics that today present a danger to industrial companies. They are always looking for ways to lessen that danger by making it appear that the danger is somehow fabricated and thus not a danger at all. They do this to keep their profits flowing the way they like, without having to be made to install expensive equipment and use recommended technologies to lessen the impact upon our planet and our health. At the center of these pursuits are billions of $'s. These people are willing to endanger our entire world population to keep more and more money coming their way - at our expense. Creating an atmosphere in higher education facilities to nurture views in opposition to those held by the majority, helps Koch and their comrades to keep the argument alive and forestall forcing them to accept responsibility for their manufacturing and refining that is endangering us all.


It isn't just CCA and Geo Group and their profiting from incarceration. No, there are millions of investors realizing some form or amount of profit from privatization and prison industries. Here is a link to an article identifying the top "shareholders" in both CCA and Geo. (Note: Vanguard is still listed in the top 10 investors in Geo Group). In addition those invested in Aramark, Keefe Commissary and the hundreds of other corporations involved in prison services, are profiting - I've named them several times in previous diaries.

When you now hear Conservatives talking the talk and walking the walk, you know it is scripted and they are parroting everything they hear from Fox News outlets. Leading Conservatives now use FOX to disseminate their initiatives and instructions from the "elite" mentioned in the treatise to the "masses" identified in the same document.

There are a couple of prestigious law firms involved in all this crap. I know you've read my diaries about Greenberg Traurig. This law firm is in the midst of all this prison privatization, economic “endowments” to universities and other manipulations. In the article about the universities linked to above, notice the involvement of BB&T bank. That is the banking firm that ATL Industry's owner in Atlanta, Ga. Used to finance his properties and equipment used in the prison industry at PRIDE’s food processing plant in Florida. When PRIDE and ATL began litigation, Greenberg Traurig was found to also represent BB&T Bank, and used their relationship with both PRIDE and BB&T jointly to take all property and assets from the ATL owner, in order to deny him funding to litigate against PRIDE. So in this one article we have further proof that Koch, BB&T, Greenberg and the other players are all affiliated – on U.S. prison privatization, prison industry operations and economic issues.

Assisting them on the issues of economics are ALEC's Board of Scholars Laffer and Moore with their twisted economic research (funded by Koch money) attempting to provide legitimacy to the Conservative agenda using such tools as the "Laffer Curve":

"The Laffer curve and supply-side economics inspired Reaganomics and the Kemp-Roth Tax Cut of 1981. Supply-side advocates of tax cuts claimed that lower tax rates would generate more tax revenue because the United States government's marginal income tax rates prior to the legislation were on the right-hand side of the curve. As a successful actor, Reagan himself had been subject to marginal tax rates as high as 90% during World War II. During the Reagan presidency, the top marginal rate of tax in the US fell from 70% to 31%, while revenue continued to increase during his tenure.[11] However tax cuts compounded by increases in government spending caused the national debt to rise, obscuring the effects of the Laffer curve. According to the CBO historical tables, income taxes as a percentage of GDP declined from 9.4% in 1981 to a range of 7.8% to 8.4% through 1989."
This "Curve" is touted by the Koch's Heritage Foundation.
And all of this started with the founding of ALEC in the mid 1970's. For more than 40 years now, Koch, Laffer and other "scholars" serving Koch and ALEC's interests have pushed us in the direction they want us to go as a society. We see the continued pursuits of their philosophy and intent with the current political events attacking labor, supporting more privatization and imprisonment in many states today - keep the "Treatise" in mind...

Obviously Snyder, Walker, Kasich, Daniels, LePage and Scott in Florida are all influenced by corporate interests through ALEC. In Florida Governor Scott pickedHayden Dempsey from Greenberg Traurig to serve as his Special Counsel. Greenberg lobbied for Koch Industries, and assisted Sarah Palin since she came upon the political scene, and Greenberg Traurig represents PRIDE Enterprises (FL. Prison Industry Corporation) – you get the picture. Is Greenberg Traurig connected to CCA and represent their interests in private prison operations - immigrations - juveniles? Sure. How about a connection between Greenberg Traurig and Geo Group? Again, yep! And they were involved in the Cornell Corrections and Geo Group merger.

Guess that's enough for now. I am trying to keep the names and issues before the DK Readers so they have an opportunity to understand exactly how ALEC and their satellite corporate and legislative members operate, what the agenda is and how that agenda impacts upon each of us as taxpayers.

The students at the Rally against ALEC in Cincinnati last month got it. They know their education is on the line - as is the funding for that college education. They represent the best hope left to us as a society combating this Conservative war waged against us by such a devious and formidable cabal. Let's hope their efforts - combined with ours - will prevail.

Is the Shadowy World of ALEC and the Koch Brothers Leading the GOP's Charge to Suppress the Youth Vote?

Original Link:

By Bill Berkowitz

Nearly forty years after a Constitutional Amendment giving 18-21 year-olds the right to vote, Republican legislators across the country are trying to disenfranchise youth under the subterfuge of combatting "voter fraud." However, as Christina Francisco-McGuire recently pointed out at, instances of *voter fraud "are so rare that one is more likely to be struck by lightening." Amongst the legislation being pushed in various states are photo id requirements, the abandonment of election-day registration, and the redefining of student residency requirements.

"The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative organization linked to corporate and right-wing donors, including the billionaire Koch Brothers, [see "Smart ALEC: Dragging the Secretive Conservative Organization Out of the Shadows"] has drafted and distributed model legislation, obtained by Campus Progress, that appears to be the inspiration for bills proposed by state legislators this year and promoted by Tea Party activists, bills that would limit access of young people to vote," Tobin Van Ostern reported in Campus Progress in early March ("Conservative Corporate Advocacy Group ALEC Behind Voter Disenfranchisement Efforts").

Van Ostern wrote: "According to research by the Fair Elections Legal Network (FELN) and Campus Progress, in the past six years, seven states have enacted laws that disenfranchise students or make it more difficult for them to vote. This year, 18 additional states are considering similar laws, while other states are proposing voter ID laws that would depress turnout among other groups of voters -- particularly those who traditionally lean left.

"These requirements run the gamut from requiring in-state driver's licenses, to banning school IDs, to prohibiting first-time voters - essentially every college-aged voter - from voting by absentee ballot. All together, these barriers create new logistical and financial barriers for many people attempting to vote."

Van Ostern's investigation found that "Many of the state proposals appear to stem from model legislation known as the Voter ID Act (also known as Photo ID) that was developed by the American Legislative Exchange Council.

"In a 2009 public report, ALEC described Voter ID legislation as "proactive" and offered up examples of states successfully passing the legislation as providing 'a helpful guide' for other states to follow."

When Campus Progress tried to get copies of ALEC's model legislation, it was rebuffed by the organization. Van Ostern pointed out that "ALEC spokesperson Raegan Weber emailed, 'Model legislation is a privilege of membership and therefore we don't provide this publicly'" According to Van Ostern, this is "a somewhat unusual practice by a non-profit public policy group organized under the Internal Revenue Service code as a 501(c)(3) charitable or educational group; most such organizations make public most fruits of their labors, rather than concealing it from people who aren't members."

In a story headlined "N.H. bill intended to block youth vote" (The University of Tennessee's The Daily Beacon, March 29, 2011), Elliott Devore pointed out that the goal of New Hampshire's House Bill 176 "is to alter the eligibility of voter registration within the state by changing the definition of domicile".

Rep. Gregory Sorg, who introduced the New Hampshire bill, said that students were "transient inmates ... with a dearth of experience and a plethora of the easy self-confidence that only ignorance and inexperience can produce." He added that the bill will end "unfair domination of local elections by students."

Devore reported that William O'Brien, the Republican New Hampshire state house speaker, "was quoted in reference to college students at a recent Tea Party event saying, 'voting as a liberal. That's what kids do. ... Students lack 'life experience,' and they just vote their feelings.'"

"Forty years ago this week," Real Clear Politics' Carl M. Cannon reported on March 25th, "the House of Representatives, on an overwhelming bipartisan vote, sent a proposed constitutional amendment to the states to lower the voting age in this country to 18. ... Two weeks earlier, the Senate passed it 94-0; and the measure that became the 26th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified by the states in record time.

"By Independence Day, it was the law of the land, and at a July 5, 1971 White House signing ceremony, President Nixon gazed on a sea of handpicked young faces and proclaimed, 'The reason I believe that your generation, the 11 million new voters, will do so much for America at home is that you will infuse into this nation some idealism, some courage, some stamina, some high moral purpose that this country always needs.'"

The battle for the youth vote had begun.

Youth generally favor Democrats

Cannon pointed out that while Republicans swept to victory in 2010, "Democratic candidates outpolled Republicans among under-30 voters by 16 percentage points in 2010. This was half the margin it had been two years ago - and turnout among young voters was lower."

ABC News reported last week that according to a new poll released at the end of March by Harvard University's Institute of Politics, located at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, "President Obama's job approval rating among an important voting bloc -- 18-29 year-olds -- rose to 55 percent, a six percentage point uptick since last October."

According to the Institute's Press Release, "The President's job approval rating among students on four-year college campuses - now 60% - increased even more (nine percentage points) over the same period."

Many political observers believe that it was the youth vote that turned the tide for Barack Obama in November 2008. In its report on the Harvard poll Politico pointed out that, "in 2008, nearly 70 percent of voters ages 29 and younger voted for Obama - the highest share of youth votes ever won by a candidate, according to exit polls."

However, according to the analysis of Arizona State University assistant professor of political science, Matthew Hindman, writing in The Arizona Republic a few days after the election, "In one sense, young voters were less important than some predicted. The anticipated 'wave' of youth voting was mostly submerged in the election's general tide of high participation. Youth turnout rose but at a rate only slightly faster than that of other age groups."

Nevertheless, Hindman noted that, "amidst all the other stirring Election Day images, it was surprising to see thousands of Pennsylvania college students standing in line to cast their ballots as soon as the polls opened at 7 a.m."

It doesn't take a political scientist to recognize that if young voters were to turn out in great numbers - for any election - it is highly likely there will be a favorable outcome for Democratic Party candidates. Hindman pointed out that, "if younger voters continue to turn out at this rate, it is terrible news for the Republican Party. The youngest voters are markedly more left-leaning than the Generation Xers who preceded them. They are certainly more liberal than their own parents."

In light of this, what is the best most way for the Republican Party to deal with the youth vote? Will it try to appeal to young voters? Will they call a Time Out on the social issues - abortion, gay rights - time-honored issues that have alienated youth from the GOP?

Or, will the GOP dig its heels in and develop mechanisms that will suppress the youth vote, making it much more difficult for youth everywhere to exercise their franchise, and calling into question the residency of students at colleges across the nation?

The Harvard poll also found - to probably no one's shock or awe - that "online tools" such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs and You Tube "make more of an impact than in-person advocacy (16%) when advocating for a political position."

"As the 2012 presidential primary and caucus season draws closer, young people will again have the opportunity to greatly impact the race for the White House," said Harvard's Institute of Politics Director Trey Grayson. "Political campaigns which incorporate an effective youth outreach strategy will have a strong advantage in the 2012 cycle."

"What's been proven in 2008 and in the events in the Middle East of late, is that young adults can make the difference when inspired," said John Della Volpe, Director of Polling for the Institute of Politics. "And before inspiration happens, it's important to understand how Millennials communicate - providing this perspective is what we aim to do every semester with our national research project."

The poll found:
•Job approval ratings have risen for President Obama, especially among college youth.
•Economy remains the top national issue of concern and source of anxiety among 18 to 29 year olds.
•Facebook adoption continues to rise, outpaces Twitter by more than three-to-one.
•Social media tools viewed as having a greater political impact than in-person advocacy.
•Nearly twice as many Millennials view community service as "honorable" compared to running for office.
•Millennials are not optimistic about the United States' role in the world.
•America's 18 to 29 year olds look first to major national newspapers - followed by "Facebook Friend" statuses - to track 2012 presidential campaign.

"The drive to amend the constitution and thus enfranchise young adults 18-21 was, a priori, an expression of faith in the political system," Les Francis, a veteran Democratic consultant told Real Clear Politics' Carl M. Cannon. "And it came at precisely the same time that much media and political attention was being paid to those who were either working outside the system or who were, in fact, trying to undo or overturn the system."

In 1971, after years of young people maintaining, that if they were old enough to die for their country in Vietnam, they were old enough to vote, a Constitutional Amendment was passed that lowered the voting age. Can anyone imagine the Republican Party supporting that Constitutional Amendment today?

Grover Norquist Rules The GOP Without Ever Being Elected! More Tyranny On The Right!

Original Link:

By Jillian Barclay

If You Want To Be A Winner In The GOP, You Take The Oath! The Tax Purity Pledge!

05/23/2011 If you want to run for office as a Republican candidate and you want to win, you must take an oath and swear to Grover Norquist that you will never, ever, ever raise taxes. Defy Norquist and you will be denied an elected post. Go back on your oath and the consequences are swift and harsh: you will lose your position. When asked what happens to someone who goes back on his word and violates the pledge, Norquist says, "Ask George H. Walker Bush how his second term was?" Who is this dictator that can single-handedly decide winners and losers? Where did he come from? Why does he have so much power?

The answers to these questions are more than complicated. Like everything with the modern GOP, Norquist has more tentacles than an octopus and he is clearly the self-annointed and appointed ruler of the Republican party today. His past is full of scandal and corruption, yet with the exposure of each and every scandal, Norquist only continues to increase his power base. Most people in America have never even heard of him. Those that have usually know very little about him.

Grover Norquist was born in October of 1956. He is a native of Pennsylvania and his father was vice-President of Polaroid. Norquist went to Harvard where he graduated with a BA, as well as an MBA. His first entry into the world of politics came when he was barely a teenager and young Grover offered his services as a volunteer for Richard Nixon's 1968 Presidential campaign. From there, Norquist's early career included work as both an a economist and speech writer for the Chamber of Commerce. Today, he is the President of Americans For Tax Reform, a group he founded in 1985. He serves on many boards of many conservative groups, including the NRA and the Nixon Center. He also co- founded the Islamic Free Market Institute.

According to the website of Americans For Tax Reform, Norquist currently has more than 1100 signers of his Tax Protection Pledge on the state level. On the federal level, his site boasts that as of 2009, 172 members of the House and 34 members of the Senate had signed, including Democrats Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. Although latest figures have not been published, most believe that every single Republican in the House and Senate right now, with the exceptions of Olympia Snowe of Maine and Dick Lugar of Indiana have signed 'The Norquist Pledge'. Not only does Norquist recruit candidates on the state and local level, he is always working behind the scenes to find what he considers appropriate candidates on the federal level.

Norquist's philosophy of government is simply stated. "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."

Norquist believes in tax cuts and deregulation, so much so that the only two things that the federal government should be a part of are the miltary and police protection. That means that Norquist is against:
•government involvement in education
•environmental controls or regulation
•Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid
•regulations or consumer protection that control any aspect of business or banking
•the CDC, the Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration

The list could go on and on. Government agency? You name it; Norquist wants it gone! Norquist has been instrumental in most, if not all of the GOP efforts to 'starve the beast' of government. The theory is so basic that it does not require a degree in economics. The more and more you cut taxes, the fewer and fewer government programs you can offer. No revenue comes in and it then follows that there is no revenue to spend. Period! Norquist was directly instrumental in the design of the the Bush tax cuts. Norquist NEVER intended that they be temporary. The Bush tax cuts were to be the beginning. More and more tax cuts were and are planned. The economy does not matter, the global status does not change anything. The goal is to cut and cut and cut.

Mr. Norquist was the co-author of Newt Gingrich's Contract with America which was precipitated upon the goals of conservative America: shrink government, decrease taxes and regulation, promote entrepreneurial activity, and at the same time, get rid of any public assistance programs and greatly limit tort protection. During Norquist's tenure at the Chamber of Commerce, he learned the power of binding together and promoting a huge network of conservative business owners. Norquist knew that if conservative people were put into key positions, they would have access to change public policy, with or without public support.

The Scandals Or Why Isn't Norquist In Prison?

Grover Norquist has been a player during many scandals. The first controversy that he was involved in was weapon sales to the Contras during the Iran-Contra scandal. While Oliver North went to prison, Norquist went free. Every single scandal, Norquist seemed to have a 'Get Out of Jail Free' card.
•"Casino" Jack Abramoff and Grover Norquist were friends for years. Norquist managed Abramoff's early campaign to become chairman of the College Republican National Committee. Norquist was directly implicated in the funneling of money for Abramoff during the gambling scandal that sent Abramoff and dozens of others to prison. Norquist did not go to prison.
•The K Street Project Lobbying scandal had Norquist's name all over it. After the elections of 1994 in which the GOP overwhelmingly took control of Congress, Norquist and his buddies, Ralph Reed and Jack Abramoff, along with Tom Delay, pressured lobbying firms to hire key Republican party members. They also designed spread sheets and dossiers, showing political contributions and then bartered access to politicians. The more money donated, the more access. The less money, the less access. The 'pay to play' game became illegal after this scheme was unearthed. Tom Delay went to prison, Abramoff went to prison, Reed barely escaped prison and Norquist came away again unscathed. Reed, once disgraced, has since come back as the head and founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, which is eerily similar in its goals to every other conservative organization. On a side note, Rick Santorum was also a player in the K Street scandal. He was, by most accounts, the Senate liason who met with the lobbyists every week and 'scheduled' access to his Senate colleagues in the pay to play scandal.
•Most recently and even in the not so distant past, Norquist has been accused by some conservatives of being a supporter and money launderer for Islamic terrorist groups. His one time partner and the co-founder of Americans For Tax Reform, Kahled Saffuri, previously worked for Abdurahman Alamoudi at the American Muslim Council. It was with $20,000 from Alamoudi, that Norquist founded the Islamic Free Market Institute. While that sounds innocuous enough, just a few years after that, Alamoudi was arrested with well over a quarter of a million dollars given to him by Moammar Gaddafi (Libya) to finance the support of jihad. Alamoudi is serving a 23 year prison sentence. Alamoudi was so well-placed that it was he who helped establish and approve certain Muslim chaplains in the military. Many, both conservative and liberal, have questioned not only Norquist's ties to Alamoudi, but Alamoudi's ties to the Department of Defense. For more information about Norquist's partner, Saffuri, link to:
•Norquist has been most vocally criticized by Frank Gaffney, the extreme right wing head of the Center For Security Policy. Gaffney's sanity has often been questioned, but he has been consistent in his distrust of Grover Norquist and even goes so far as to label him a 'Muslim extremist'. Most recently, Norquist was slammed at his own CPAC event, for being a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood by the more well-respected conservative, David Horowitz. The battle is being waged by conservatives on the one side, who believe that Norquist is a sympathizer and funnels money and influence to Hamas, and those on the other side, who believe that Horowitz and Gaffney are simply paranoid.
•Most recently, Senator Tom Coburn, (R), from Oklahoma is waging a war with Norquist. Norquist has called Coburn out for violating the pledge and Coburn has fired back, saying in his defense, "...which pledge is the most important? Is it the pledge to uphold your oath to the Constitution of the United States or a pledge from a special interest group who claims to speak for all of American conservatives when, in fact, they don't." Perhaps Coburn should ask one-term President George H W Bush how well his second term worked out. Maybe Coburn doesn't realize that Norquist has stated that Coburn will face harsh consequences for his violation of the purity pledge. Perhaps, Coburn is not aware that Norquist has over 100 thousand big time corporate donors, just ready to do his bidding. Coburn, on April 25th bumped it up a notch and said, "Norquist is chief cleric of Sharia tax law". Norquist has stated that "Coburn lied to get elected!" The war is heating up. This is going to be a good one to watch!

Norquist Is The Most Powerful Man Not Sitting In The White House!

Lawrence O'Donnell, MSNBC host of the Last Word calls Grover Norquist "the most powerful man in America that does not sit in the White House." O'Donnell may be correct. Norquist has ties to countless corporations, including tobacco and big oil, lobbyists, and most of the conservative think tanks in the country. The ever-powerful Koch brothers are supporters. Norquist is the self-appointed managing director of the hard core right and he takes his position seriously.

If you have never heard of him, it is time to get acquainted. This man has influenced EVERY Republican legislator beginning with President Reagan. Go easy! Start with Wikipedia and go from there. The articles are endless, perhaps because his power is endless. He is the GOP king maker, but he is the real king! The ruler of the Republican party! And don't forget! The road to any GOP-controlled White House is conditioned upon a signature on a 'pledge' to the king,

The Pledge

Taxpayer Protection Pledge

I,________________, pledge to the taxpayers of the (____district of the) state of ________________and to the American people that I will: ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal tax rate for individuals and business; and TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.


They are not allowed to vote "YES"! Even if their constituents disagree, they are bound by their oath to Norquist first and foremost. That oath is primary. Even primary to their oath to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States.

Norquist Helped To Launder Money For Abramoff!
•Washington Tax-Cut Advocate Grover Norquist Aided Abramoff

•Grover Norquist | Right Wing Watch

•CPAC, Islam & Norquist Americanpatriotcommission Blog

•Nonprofit Groups Funneled Money For Abramoff -
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Billionaires' front groups attack workers, public schools, and young voters

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By Jim Hightower

In January, a small group of Indiana schoolteachers encountered their governor, Mitch Daniels, in a hallway of the state capitol. They were part of an outpouring of Hoosiers who had come to Indianapolis that day to protest Daniels' almost-gleeful political attack on the pay and even the worthiness of public employees. Having the chance, this scrappy group dared to confront his eminence. Why, they asked, was he demonizing and so drastically under-cutting those who educate Indiana's children?

"You teachers are all making too much money," the governor snapped. He then lectured them with a prepackaged factoid: "You are all making 22 percent more than the taxpayers who are paying your salaries."

Hmmm, too much? Let's see--classroom teachers in Indiana earn a middle-class paycheck that averages $47,255 a year for handling a daily workload that would break the back (and haughtiness) of any pompous and pampered governor. Yet they are being belittled and their compensation is being slashed by this peacock of a public employee who sucks up more than twice what teachers get in annual salary, plus gold-plated benefits, assorted perks of office, and a barn full of personal staffers to help him make it through his day. Someone needs to buy Mitch a mirror.

Daniels is one of a flock of far right-wing governors who seem to have flown out of the same dark political hellhole in the past couple of years. Now ruling from the highest roosts of power in more than a dozen states, all of them are pushing vituperative measures designed to disempower and downsize not only public employees and unions, but also the entire workaday majority of their states --the middle class itself. Among other assaults, they are canceling collective bargaining contracts, suppressing union rights, arbitrarily eliminating hundreds of thousands of both public and private-sector jobs, turning over schools and other public functions to low-paying corporations, doing away with minimum wage protections, and cutting unemployment benefits and worker pensions (while simultaneously giving new tax cuts to corporations and millionaires).

Curiously, the governors all seem to have the same playbook. Not only are their agendas alike and the content of their proposals remarkably similar, but they're also parroting the same scripted rationale for their extremist actions: "The sky is falling on our Great State of [Blank], but luckily I was elected by the good voters of [Blank] to do the people's will, so I am taking these bold steps to balance [Blank's] budget."

What a crock! First, none of them campaigned on what they're now doing. Second, poll after poll shows that the public supports the workers, not the megalomaniacal governors. And, third, gutting the fundamental workplace rights of wage earners has nothing to do with balancing budgets.

Indeed, if a budgetary fix was really their goal, the governors could easily achieve it by setting up dunking tanks on their capitol grounds, putting their own ample butts on the dunking boards, and charging a dollar a pop for anyone wanting to dunk them. The lines would stretch for miles, and budget deficits could be quickly wiped out, one dunk at a time.

Goons in Gucci's

So where does this sudden, multi-state offensive against the hard-won rights, protections, and democratic power of America's wage earners come from? From the top--from a relative handful of arrogantly rich, right-wing families and corporate chieftains who have long been dedicated to disarming labor, repealing the New Deal, and returning America to the glory days when robber barons ruled. These particular moneyed elites have not idly dreamed of going back to the future, they've been investing hundreds of millions of dollars during the past four decades to assemble a shadowy network of hired political thugs to get them there.

[HISTORICAL FLASHBACK: In the fierce labor wars of the last century, industrial barons employed Pinkertons and other goons to bloody the heads of laborers or simply gun down those struggling for a share of economic and political power. It was brutal, but organized workers persevered and eventually gained a share of economic and political power. From their sweat and blood, America's middle class flowered.]

Today, the bands of nouveau corporate royalists (with coats of arms bearing such names as Coors, DeVos, Koch, Scaife, and Walton) are determined to take back those middle-class gains of yesteryear. They are working to achieve this through a coordinated, long-term campaign to (1) crush the ability of working people to unionize, (2) bust America's middle-class wage structure, (3) eliminate job security, and (4) emasculate government as a force capable of controlling corporate avarice and arrogance.

These latter-day royalists are employing a more sophisticated thuggery than brute force (though don't think they wouldn't resort to it). Instead, their goons are more likely to be in Gucci's than brogans, using dollars and computers rather than clubs and guns. They have been recruiting, financing, training, deploying, and coordinating thousands of political operatives to work through hundreds of front groups, law firms, think tanks, PACs, lobbying offices, media and PR consortiums, faux academic centers, astroturf campaigns, and--of course--compliant politicians.

Among the compliant is our covey of hyperactive governors, all carrying basically the same anti-worker, anti-democratic policy ideas. Their unified agenda wasn't produced by telepathy or freakish happenstance, but by AFC, ALEC, IFL, SPN,* and other obscure organizational acronyms unknown to 99 percent of Americans. But Daniels of Indiana, Walker of Wisconsin, Kasich of Ohio, Scott of Florida, and the rest of the covey have these organizations on speed dial. Behind the non-descript acronyms are aggressive and insidious right-wing wonk shops that have been set up and richly financed by the corporatists to prepare and hand-deliver pro-corporate programs to compliant governors and key legislators. Once delivered, the organizations work (usually clandestinely) to get the programs enacted. Let's peek inside a couple of these acronyms.


Forget children, AFC is an astroturf organization spreading the gospel of public education privatization. It is a creature of Michigan's multi-billionaire DeVos family--daddy Richard founded Amway, ranks 62nd among the richest Americans, and owns the Orlando Magic basketball team.

AFC is ramrodded by Betsy DeVos, whose right-wing bona fides are rock solid. Raised in the wealthy, ueber-conservative Prince family (her brother is Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater, the infamous private war corporation), she married Dick (son of Richard) and has been a major donor/fundraiser for the GOP, for religious-right political groups, and for a national web of school privatizers. Also, she and the larger DeVos klan are longtime co-conspirators in and co-funders of the Koch brothers' plutocratic political network. [Bonus tidbit: The DeVoses reportedly helped finance the Citizens United case that the Supreme Court used last year to unleash secret, unlimited corporate money on our elections.] Betsy is unabashed about using the family's vast fortune for, as she puts it, "buying influence" in government. In 1997 she bluntly declared, "We expect a return on our investment."

Eradication of public schools is her passion, and AFC is her machine. It's essentially a front group that funnels big money from a cadre of like-minded rich people into other front groups across the country. In turn, these groups funnel AFC's money into local privatization campaigns. Last year, for example, just one political action committee registered by AFC in Indiana amassed $4.6 million from only 13 donors--none from Indiana. The list included Alice and Jim Walton (two billionaire Walmart heirs), a trio of super-rich global speculators (who, interestingly, say they base their risky gambles on poker strategies), a multi-millionaire operator of a national chain of for-profit charter schools, and Betsy herself. Very little of the money stayed in Indiana--more than $4 million was flung out to pro- privatization front groups and candidates running campaigns in Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Wisconsin. This shell game is repeated in campaigns around the country, with the same core group of gabillionaires putting up the cash.

While you are not likely to have heard of Betsy DeVos, chances are she and her deep-pocket cohorts are behind efforts to privatize schools right where you live. By running money through their maze of shell organizations, they keep their own identities secret. Voters in the six states that got cash last year from the Indiana PAC, for example, might see that a group with the sweet-sounding name of the American Federation for Children is running campaign ads and funding candidates in their area--but there's no disclosure that Amway, Walmart, a trio of poker-guided speculators, and a charter school profiteer are the real source of the effort to undermine their public school system

In campaign after campaign, the 'local' demand for privatization turns out to be little more than AFC money creating the illusion of grassroots support (in fact, the steady infusion of millions of dollars from DeVos, the Waltons, et al. is often the only thing propping up many of the so-called 'school choice' organizations at the local, state, and national levels). AFC will gush money into state initiatives, legislative lobbying campaigns, and political races, especially in the crucial couple of weeks before a vote. The money buys glossy (and often nastily negative) media, creating the impression that there's a groundswell for taking public schools private. "Flooding the zone" is the phrase that AFC's cynical political operatives use to describe this astroturf tactic. Polls consistently show strong public opposition to using tax dollars to fund private and parochial schools, but a little thing like that doesn't deter DeVos and her tiny band of rich ideologues. Through their stealth campaigns, they have helped elect governors who are on board their corporatization crusade. In April, for example, Gov. Mitch Daniels rammed a sweeping, DeVos-backed voucher bill into law. This radical movement is out to eradicate public education (one group funded by DeVos, Koch, and company even calls itself the Alliance for the Separation of School and State, proudly proclaiming that it supports "ending gov- ernment involvement in education").

The vast majority of America's 310 million people adamantly supports public education, but DeVos intends to overwhelm those millions with her millions of dollars, strategically using untraceable money to pervert public policy to her will, one campaign at a time. Last year she launched the AFC Action Fund to focus on state legislative races across the country, with the intention of surreptitiously stacking legislatures with school privatizers.


"With nearly 2,000 members" explains a brochure of this secretive organization, "ALEC is the nation's largest nonpartisan, individual membership association of state legislators." Maybe your very own local lawmaker is one of them--but you won't get that information from ALEC, which hides its list of legislators from public view.

Nonpartisan? Its website lists 22 legislators from around the country who serve as board members and officers of this tax-exempt legislative service organization. All are Republican. In fact, only token numbers of Democrats are allowed in the club, and all inductees are individually vetted to make sure they will adhere to ALEC's corporate dogma.

Which brings us to the organization's pose as an association of legislators. The "exchange" in ALEC's name is not between lawmakers, but between lawmakers and such behind-the-scenes powers as Altria, AT&T, Bayer, Coca-Cola, ExxonMobil, GlaxoSmithKline, Intuit, Johnson & Johnson, Koch Industries, Kraft Foods, Peabody Energy, Pfizer, Reynolds American, State Farm Insurance, UPS, and Walmart. These giants form ALEC's "private enterprise board," and they are among the self-interested corporations that put up its money and shape its agenda.

State reps pay only a token $50 a year to be members of ALEC, while at least 82 percent of the $6 million yearly budget comes from corporations (ALEC demurely refuses to name its donors, much less report how much each gives, nor will it disclose how it spends the money).

What do corporations get for their tax-deductible donations? A greased skid for sliding their wish list into the laws of multiple states. ALEC is something of a speed dating service. It holds three national conferences a year, plus convening issue-specific policy sessions in 20 to 30 state capitols annually. These are cozy sessions that conveniently gather groups of legislators to meet in private with corporate executives. The two groups schmooze together and develop bills to help extend corporate power over workers, consumers, environmentalists, and others--then the lawmakers go back home to pass the corporations' bills.

ALEC is the ultimate back room for corporate-legislative collusion. Its promotional brochure describes it as a dynamic partnership "that will define the American political landscape of the 21st century."

That's no empty threat. ALEC's tête-à-têtes result in about 1,000 bills being introduced across America every legislative session, and an ALEC official proudly adds, "We usually pass about 200 bills a year." And what pieces of work they are! For example:
•Even before Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker took office this January, ALEC agents were handing him model bills for clubbing teachers and other public employees. Pushing ALEC's attack from inside the legislature were Wisconsin state Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, the rancorous, union-busting majority leader who was ALEC's state chairman last year, and state Rep. Robin Vos, the house budget slasher who heads ALEC's state organization this year. Likewise, governors in Indiana, Maine, Michigan, and Ohio have backed anti-union legislation this year that closely resembles ALEC's 'model' bills.
•In 2009, ALEC drew up the Voter ID Act to ban university students from using their college-issued ID's as proof of residency for voting. Seven states have adopted this model law, which is intended to bar eligible students from the voting booth. These kids must be disenfranchised, New Hampshire's house speaker bluntly said in February, because they're "voting liberal, voting their feelings, with no life experience." This model bill has been introduced in 18 other states this year in a rather obvious ploy to hold down the student vote in the 2012 presidential election.
•Arizona's infamous anti-Latino immigration law was crafted at an ALEC conference. The state senate leader who sponsored the bill was in the meeting, as was an eager executive from Corrections Corporation of America, the private prison operation that stands to get a nice business boost from Arizona's law.
•Numerous state bills have been filed to kill, dilute, or withdraw from Obama's universal healthcare reform. Many bear remarkably similar wording, perhaps because they were drawn from a special report churned out by the 'nonpartisan' ALEC, entitled "The State Legislators Guide to Repealing ObamaCare."
•One of ALEC's specialties is developing state laws to stop citizens from interfering with corporate whim. For example, when various communities began outlawing the use of genetically altered seeds in their area, ALEC rushed out a model bill to remove local control of seeds--11 states have passed it. Also with such climate-change deniers as Koch and Exxon funding ALEC and sitting on its board, you can guess why this corporate policy front has produced more than 800 draft measures against regulating global warming emissions--and, at least six states are considering bills nearly identical to ALEC's draft resolution for "state withdrawal from regional climate initiatives."

The big lie

Something unconscionable is at work here, something that is shameful, unworthy of our people, and directly contradictory to our country's founding ideals. The richest, most powerful, most privileged people in our land--in cahoots with a horde of the least principled, most venal political opportunists in civic life-- are intentionally savaging the well-being of America's majority and aggressively suppressing the democratic rights that make America America. And for what? Solely for themselves, for the aggrandizement of their own wealth and power.

To pull off this grand political larceny, the narcissistic right has manufactured a huge lie that has largely been accepted as truth not only by the GOP and tea partiers, but also by the mass media, nearly all of the mainline pundit class, and too many fraidy-cat Democratic leaders, including the one in the oval office. The lie is that extreme budgetary measures (they call them "coura- geous") simply must be imposed now, this instant, in order to slay the looming deficit monster that is gorging itself on government spending at all levels.

"In the name of your grandbabies," they cry, "teachers must be fired, rights smothered, pensions abrogated, Medicare tossed aside, little kids cut off from Head Start, and the bright promise of America's shared prosperity dimmed. We have no choice but to slash and burn."

No choice? One hedge fund hustler pocketed $2.4 million last year. Not for the year--$2.4 million AN HOUR. Yet he and his ilk pay a much lower tax rate than you and I do. In recent years, huge corporations like GE, ExxonMobil, and Bank of America have pocketed billions of dollars in profit, yet paid not a dime in federal income taxes. Indeed, far from paying taxes, these three have even been handed millions of dollars in "refunds" from our public treasury in some of their profitable years. Sliding through loopholes created by their lobbyists, two-thirds of corporations in the US pay no income taxes to help cover the priceless benefits they get from our national government.

America does not face a deficit crisis--we face a multi-billion dollar annual tax dodge by the most elite of moneyed elites. The money our society needs is right there--in the coffers of flagrantly rich Fortune 500 corporations and Wall Street banks, in the personal accounts of absurdly wealthy CEOs and fast-buck speculators. America is hardly a poor country. It's the richest in the history of the world, and it ought to have the very best public education program in the world, the most advanced infrastructure network, and the finest system of health care for all.

Yet our 'leaders' only talk of what they can't do, of what must be cut, of how the middle class and the poor must sacrifice, of how Americans must adapt to the new normal of diminished expectations and shriveled democratic power. The ugly truth is that these despicable governors and lawmakers are willingly trashing teachers and butchering our public budgets simply to spare the privileged and plutocratic few from paying what they owe to sustain a just, democratic, and truly prosperous society. This is ridiculous. Let's tax the super-rich! We the People must join together, stand up, push back, and shift the focus in this fight from hardworking teachers to these disgusting deadbeats and their political puppets.

*AFC: American Federation for Children; ALEC: American Legislative Exchange Council; IFL: Institute for Liberty; SPN: State Policy Network.