Friday, December 06, 2013

GOP/Conservative Groups Plan US-wide Assault on Education, Health and Public Sector

David Koch
The hypocrisy of Republicans and self-professed Bible worshiping conservatives continues to soar to new levels.  As The Guardian reports, plans are underway for a 34 state campaign to "release residents from government dependency," which of course, really means that the poor and those without health care will be cast into the gutter to hopefully die while education spending is gutted.  Helping to fund this effort to bring back the worse aspects of the Gilded Age are not surprisingly the greed driven billionaire Koch brothers.   Shockingly, another major supporter is food giant Kraft and multinational drugs company GlaxoSmithKline (yes, the boyfriend and I will be changing our shopping patterns).  The article also highlights the pressing need to halt the political activities of alleged charities that are nothing more than funding funnels Here are story highlights:for the far right. 

Conservative groups across the US are planning a co-ordinated assault against public sector rights and services in the key areas of education, healthcare, income tax, workers' compensation and the environment, documents obtained by the Guardian reveal.

The strategy for the state-level organisations, which describe themselves as "free-market thinktanks", includes proposals from six different states for cuts in public sector pensions, campaigns to reduce the wages of government workers and eliminate income taxes, school voucher schemes to counter public education, opposition to Medicaid, and a campaign against regional efforts to combat greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

The policy goals are contained in a set of funding proposals obtained by the Guardian. . . . The documents contain 40 funding proposals from 34 states, providing a blueprint for the conservative agenda in 2014.

In partnership with the Texas Observer and the Portland Press Herald in Maine, the Guardian is publishing SPN's summary of all the proposals to give readers and news outlets full and fair access to state-by-state conservative plans that could have significant impact throughout the US, and to allow the public to reach its own conclusions about whether these activities comply with the spirit of non-profit tax-exempt charities.Details of the co-ordinated approach come amid growing federal scrutiny of the political activities of tax-exempt charities.

Most of the "thinktanks" involved in the proposals gathered by the State Policy Network are constituted as 501(c)(3) charities that are exempt from tax by the Internal Revenue Service. Though the groups are not involved in election campaigns, they are subject to strict restrictions on the amount of lobbying they are allowed to perform. Several of the grant bids contained in the Guardian documents propose the launch of "media campaigns" aimed at changing state laws and policies, or refer to "advancing model legislation" and "candidate briefings", in ways that arguably cross the line into lobbying.

The documents also cast light on the nexus of funding arrangements behind radical rightwing campaigns. The State Policy Network (SPN) has members in each of the 50 states and an annual warchest of $83m drawn from major corporate donors that include the energy tycoons the Koch brothers, the tobacco company Philip Morris, food giant Kraft and the multinational drugs company GlaxoSmithKline.

The proposals in the grant bids contained in the Guardian documents go beyond a commitment to free enterprise, however. They include:

"reforms" to public employee pensions raised by SPN thinktanks in Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania;
• tax elimination or reduction schemes in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Maryland, Nebraska and New York;
an education voucher system to promote private and home schooling in Florida;
• campaigns against worker and union rights in Delaware and Nevada;
• opposition to Medicaid in Georgia, North Carolina and Utah.

Medicaid is the target of a grant proposal coming from the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), an influential thinktank funded largely by rightwing foundations and corporations including the energy tycoons the Koch brothers, tobacco company Altria and the telecoms giant Verizon. The Texas Observer has investigated the contents of the document and points out that in its request for $40,000 from Searle, TPPF claims credit for blocking Medicaid expansion in the state.
The article is lengthy, so read the entire piece.

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