Monday, January 21, 2013

This is what we're up against: ALEC, CEOs, phony tea parties

The broad, coordinated effort to plunder and silence working people is moving into full gear as Congress reconvenes and state legislatures get to work. Greedy, pampered CEOs are trying to take away our Social Security and Medicare in Congress. Billionaire-backed front groups are trying to take away our unions in the states.

The Center for Media and Democracy brings this alarming news about one billionaire-backed group, FreedomWorks:
The Tea Party-affiliated group FreedomWorks - the right-wing organization that helps connect "Tea Party" groups with talking points, rallies, and more - is gearing up to direct its sizeable war chest towards advancing anti-union initiatives in the states, supporting an agenda set by groups like David Koch's Americans for Prosperity and the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). This strongly suggests that the battle for the future of private and public sector unions in America is beginning a new phase of combat. 
This month, FreedomWorks announced "an aggressive grassroots, state-based campaign" for 2013 to "push back against domineering unions," among other plans. 
Michigan's No Rights At Work law, for example, is copied from ALEC, the corporate dating service that links state lawmakers with deep-pocketed donors and special-interest lobbyists.

As we've reported, FreedomWorks is a spinoff of the Benedict Arnold Koch brothers group, Citizens for a Strong Economy. FreedomWorks' former chief, Dick Armey, was ousted recently and has since been telling the news media how FreedomWorks is funded by rich donors. It exists just to exploit its supporters, he said. To help raise money, FreedomWorks pays Glenn Beck $1 million. 

Here's where FreedomWorks will be attacking, according to CMD.
Since the election, FreedomWorks has promoted a petition to "support Michigan Governor Rick Snyder" in his anti-union push, published multiple blogs attacking unions, and released a study purporting to show the benefits of "paycheck protection" legislation to defund unions in Pennsylvania. 
In a January 6 message to the FreedomWorks email list, (CEO Matt) Kibbe announced a new "Save the States" campaign and linked to a website where users could rank the issues FreedomWorks has identified as priorities - like Right to Work, Paycheck Protection, "school choice" (which is presented as an anti-union initiative), and reforming the supposedly "extravagant" pensions promised to unionized public sector employees. 
Four out of the five issues in the FreedomWorks "Save the States" campaign are tied to weakening unions, either directly or indirectly.
Things aren't looking much better in Washington, where a group of extremist CEOs and billionaires are trying to take away the retirement and health care benefits we work all our lives for. They're most interested in preserving their lucrative government contracts, but they chose to give themselves the misleading name "Fix the Debt." Our brothers and sisters at the AFL-CIO tell us "Fix the Debt" now has reinforcements:
As if we didn't already have enough on our plates (having to fend off attacks from the "Fix the Debt" CEOs), now there's another group of CEOs, the Business Roundtable, telling us we need to "modernize," a.k.a. cut, Social Security and Medicare benefits by raising the eligibility ages and reducing cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs). How helpful. 
Or as Richard Eskow points out at Campaign for America's Future:
...for the wealthy, pampered, and narcissistic CEOs of the Business Roundtable, sacrifice is always for someone else.
Eskow tears into the Business Roundtable like nobody's business, writing,
Rich CEOs have used every tax loophole in the book to add to their own wealth, have been bailed out directly or indirectly by the American taxpayer, and have rigged corporate governance so that they make far more than they’re worth. 
Now, to make sure the milk and honey keeps flowing their way, they want to cut Medicare and Social Security benefits for the beleaguered American majority. Sounds crazy, right? 
Meet the CEOs of the Business Roundtable.
Eskow turns the tables on pampered and narcissistic CEOs by pointing out THEY'RE the cause of any problem we might have with Social Security and Medicare:
Social Security’s in much better fiscal shape than most corporate benefit plans, and any long-term problems it may have are driven by a) greater wealth inequity than even the most conservative economists could have imagined in 1983; and b) massive unemployment brought on by Wall Street greed... 
As for Medicare, its cost problems are caused by for-profit health companies inflating medical costs. Think the Business Roundtable will mention that? Its members include the CEOs of Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis, Abbott Laboratories, the Tenet hospital system, Cardinal Health, ExpressScripts, CVS/Caremark and  WellPoint. 
Like hell it will. 
Our long-term deficits are driven by America’s runaway health care costs, which in turn are driven by our profit-driven system. It’s barely an exaggeration to say that if some of these companies and their competitors didn’t exist the Federal government might not have a deficit problem at all.
Read the whole thing here.