Americans are fed up with big money dominating and corrupting the
political process. Voters are fed up; community organizations are fed
up; even most politicians locked in the endless fundraising chase are
fed up. As Joel Barkin, our Executive Director, wrote last week for New
Hampshire's Union Leader, "Now is the Time to Tackle Corruption in Government."
Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) has a truly bad idea. He wants the U.S. Senate to adopt a bill (S. 1955)
that would gut state insurance mandates and allow for price
discrimination by insurance companies -- all under the guise of
lowering the cost of health care (note -- it will not actually lower
the cost over the long-term). More importantly, the bill punts on the
fundamental question: how do we achieve health care for all Americans?
There's a piece of rhetoric out there that smart growth policies
increase housing costs, therefore driving working families out of urban
areas to the exurban fringe. Daniel Goldberg of Smart Growth America responds with this post
emphasizing that the real problem is that the principles of smart
growth -- ensuring that "development makes efficient use of land and
the roads, sewers, schools and other infrastructure we all pay for" --
have still only had minimal impact on suburban sprawl.
What makes this change in policy most striking is the dismal policy
of corporate subsidies that it is (still too slowly) replacing. The
community organization, Good Jobs First,
has been the premiere chronicler of tax subsidy boondoggles handed out
to corporations by state and local governments, corporate handouts that
do little to spur healthy growth and that usually leave public
treasuries too empty to address other public needs:
Every state and local official should be paying more attention to the
global trade talks at the World Trade Organization, since local power
to regulate services such as health care, mass transit and a range of
other public services are on the chopping block.
A good place to start in researching your local corporate-backed policy outfits is the State Policy Network;
pick your state on the linked map and you'll be able to see a list of
"free market" think tanks in your local area. While there is a lot of
overlap, you can also check out the map of state groups listed by Americans for Tax Reform.
While these facts are unlikely to change the minds of rightwing
legislators looking to hand out slices of the education spending pie to
their corporate sponsors, progressive legislators can use them to stand
up against the privatization agenda and push for the education reforms
that really help children learn:
Better early education, including guaranteeing free pre-K for all
More equitable funding for poorer districts in states
Smaller class sizes for all students
Professional development and better retention of teachers, especially in poorer districts
Accountability that is more than a mandate to "teach to the test"
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) recently issued its 2006 version of its "Report Card on American Education",
the organization's annual propaganda that public schools are failing
and that more resources for poorer schools won't make a difference.