Reprinted with permission by People for the American Way
Major players working to stop women’s economic freedom measures
American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
As People For the American Way wrote in a report on ALEC, the organization “is a one-stop shop for corporations looking to identify friendly state legislators and work with them to get special-interest legislation introduced.” Corporations pay dues to the organization and earn the privilege of meeting with state legislatures and presenting them with corporate-friendly model legislation.
ALEC bills that have spread across conservative state legislatures have included voter ID restrictions, favorable tax cuts for the wealthy, attempts to undercut the Affordable Care Act, and so-called “right to work” laws that are meant to weaken labor unions. ALEC has also been behind the push, discussed in this report, to pass state “preemption” laws preventing localities from enacting their own paid sick leave and minimum wage standards.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a behemoth lobbying group that, while claiming to represent the interests of American businesses as a whole, is sometimes at odds with its local chapters as well as its individual members.
The Chamber is one of the largest spenders in U.S. elections. In the 2014 election cycle, the group spent more than $35 million in independent expenditures, mostly on behalf of Republican candidates. Already in 2016, the Chamber has spent $13 million in independent expenditures — again, mostly on behalf of Republicans. The Chamber also spends an enormous amount of money lobbying Congress and federal agencies, $124 million in 2014 and $84 million in 2015.
While the Chamber says it represents members ranging “from mom-and-pop shops and local chambers to leading industry associations and large corporations,” in reality much of its funding comes from large corporate interests and political groups. An Open Secrets analysis has found multimillion dollar contributions to the Chamber from Freedom Partners, the main group through which the billionaire Koch brothers funnel their considerable political spending, and Crossroads GPS, a political group started by former George W. Bush strategist Karl Rove. In fact, half of the money that the Chamber took in in 2012 came from just 64 large donors.
The Chamber is an ever-present force in efforts to stop paid family leave and paid sick leave and raising the minimum wage, all of which it lists as among its 2016 policy priorities. The group also opposes the Paycheck Fairness Act and it opposed the bill undoing the Supreme Court decision in the Ledbetter case.
National Restaurant Association (NRA)
Known as “the other NRA,” the National Restaurant Association is a lobbying Group funded by some of the largest U.S. restaurant chains that has worked to fight restaurant regulations including menu labeling requirements and guidelines on marketing junk food to kids. The Restaurant Association has been a leading opponent of minimum wage hikes across the country, along with opposing paid sick leave legislation and working to limit the scope of the Affordable Care Act. In one extreme example, the group spent $100,000 to defeat a paid sick leave ballot measure in Denver. The Restaurant Association has worked with ALEC to push for state “preemption” laws that prevent municipalities from enacting their own minimum wage and paid sick leave laws.
So far this year, the Restaurant Association has spent $1.5 on federal lobbying and its PAC has contributed $400,000 to federal candidates, 87 percent of it to Republicans. This is on top of hefty contributions from some of the association’s largest members.
National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB)
While the NFIB describes itself as “the voice of small business”, it has received millions of dollars “in secret contributions from groups associated with Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers” according to the Huffington Post, and uses the vast majority of its political spending to back Republican candidates.
As Mother Jones noted in 2012, “few among the legions of small business owners that [NFIB] represents will benefit from its lobbying,” which has skewed toward the priorities of the ultra-rich, including opposing tax hikes on the wealthy. NFIB has fought to stop drinking water protections and climate change action and was the lead plaintiff in NFIB v. Sebelius, a major challenge to the Affordable Care Act. The NFIB has used its status as the supposed “voice of small business” to oppose paid family leave and sick leave policies and minimum wage increases.
* Supporting documentation of all data can be found in PFAW’s original report
by IDD Staff