Per Washington Post reporter Anita Kumar, it appears that Virginia House Speaker Bill Howell (R) has valiantly leaped to the defense of far-right-wing corporate front group ALEC (the “American Legislative Exchange Council”), after ProgressVA ripped ALEC's laughable "report card" " marking Virginia’s progress in instituting pro-corporate economic policies." Great, huh? Nice to see which side Howell's on, although it's not surprising. As Anita Kumar notes, Howell actually used to chair ALEC, the source for reams of horrendous legislation (including, as ProgressVA notes, “‘Kill at Will’ laws like the one at the center of the Trayvon Martin shooting”). No wonder Howell leaps to ALEC’s defense. Plus, the guy's a corporate tool in general (here’s a listing of the contributions he's received over the years from corporate America). Go figure.
UPDATE 1:19 pm: I just added video of Speaker Howell insulting ProgressVA Executive Director Anna Scholl for apparently not being smart enough to understand anything but “little enough words.” Anna retorts, “I’m a smart girl actually, I went to the University of Virginia…I think words with multiple syllables would be just fine for me!“
UPDATE #2: See the Tweet below from Julian Walker of the Virginian-Pilot. Great job by Julian, who was all over this story from the git-go.
Also, great job by DPVA and its tracker for getting this video – thank you!!
ALEC Releases Report Card Marking VA’s Success Instituting Anti-Middle Class Policies
Meanwhile, corporations flee organization designed to increase their bottom lines
Richmond, VA—Under fire for pushing national campaigns make it harder for millions of Americans to vote and institute “Kill at Will” laws like the one at the center of the Trayvon Martin shooting, multiple corporations have fled the American Legislative Exchange Council. Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Intuit, Kraft Foods and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation determined membership in the corporate front group and bill factory was no longer good for their bottom lines. That exodus did not stop Speaker William Howell, a member of ALEC’s Board of Directors, from joining the organization this morning to tout a report marking Virginia’s progress in instituting pro-corporate economic policies.
“It’s not surprising that a corporate front group that has carelessly pushed legislation to make it harder for millions of Virginians to vote and establish “Kill at Will” laws across the country would completely disregard policies to secure the middle class,” said Anna Scholl, Executive Director of ProgressVA. “These rankings are nothing more than a report card for ALEC’s anti-middle class agenda. Now even corporate members are backing away from ALEC’s agenda of low minimum wages, fewer high paying jobs and millionaires not paying their fair share. Its too bad Speaker Howell won’t do the same.”
Contrary to the criteria assembled for ALEC by infamous trickle-down economist Arthur Laffer,economists have noted that state policies like a fair minimum wage, progressive tax systems, and the right of private businesses to enter into a contract with their employees do not hinder, but rather help state economies become more prosperous for all.
ALEC’s “Rich States, Poor States” report is riddled with inconsistencies and methodological errors. For example:
- ALEC lionizes Texas’ economic policies, encouraging states to “be more like Texas.” The report fails to note that from 2007-2011, 100% of Texas' job growth was in the public sector, with the private sector shrinking. This evidence contradicts ALEC’s claim that Texas’ economic policies are spurring private sector growth.
- ALEC’s measures are contradictory. “Rich States, Poor States” celebrates Nevada’s population growth and attributes it to a low income tax and right-to-work status. However, according to the Bureau for Labor Statistics, Nevada had the country’s highest unemployment rate in 2011.
- In a massive methodological oversight, ALEC emphasizes population growth as an indication of economic success while failing to control for factors that affect migration patterns, including weather and cost of living, making any corollaries drawn between population growth and economic policies useless.
- “Rich States, Poor States” makes no effort to evaluate the quality of a state’s public services. While good schools, adequate police protection, and an efficient transportation network are universally acknowledged as key factors in determining a desirable place to live, none of these items is considered to make a state more or less competitive according to ALEC.
A January report by ProgressVA revealed that over 50 bills drawn from ALEC sources have been introduced in the Virginia General Assembly. Virginia taxpayers have spent over $230,000 to subsidize legislators’ participation. Last week, ProgressVA called on Virginia ALEC members to join major corporations in quitting the organization. Virginia legislative ALEC members include:
- Speaker William Howell, Member, ALEC Board of Directors
- Senator Stephen Martin, State Co-Chairman
- Delegate John Cosgrove, State Co-Chairman
- Senator Tommy Norment, Member, ALEC Telecommunications and Technology Task Force
- Delegate Barbara Comstock, Alternate, ALEC Telecommunications and Technology Task Force
- Delegate David Albo, Member, ALEC Public Safety and Elections Task Force
For more information:
- ALEC Exposed: Who is writing Virginia's laws? – www.progressva.org/alec
- PRESS RELEASE: Corporate sponsors quit ALEC; ProgressVA urges Virginia legislators to do the same – http://www.progressva.org/news/corporate_sponsors_quit_alec_progressva_urges_virginia_legislators_to_do_the_same.html
- PRESS RELEASE: Advocacy groups launch petition drive urging companies to quit ALEC – http://www.progressva.org/news/advocacy_groups_launch_petition_drive_urging_companies_to_quit_alec.html