A new report from the corporate lobby would be laughable if it wasn’t being taken seriously by media outlets.
Called, “Rich States, Poor States,” the report is authored by conservative economist Arthur Laffer and sponsored by ALEC, the pseudo-nonprofit that writes and passes laws on behalf of corporations.
It ranks Utah, a state that had a GDP of $105.7 billion in 2007, first in economic outlook. California, with a GDP of $1.8 trillion in the same year, is ranked 47th. Is it a coincidence that Utah is one of the most conservative states in the union and California is quite the opposite?
For example, it’s no surprise, given the nature of its model bills, that ALEC’s report favors states offering low taxes and minimal government regulation. Whether or not those things create a strong economic climate, they are certainly favored by corporations. And red states — surprise, surprise — greatly outrank their blue brethren: of the ten states on which ALEC bestowed the honor of greatest economic outlook, all but Virginia have a Republican governor and a Republican-controlled legislature. (The Virginia Senate is split equally among Democrats and Republicans.) Eight of the report’s lowest-ranking states are governed by Democrats.
Some in the press are eating all this up. A recent Louisiana headline reads: “State-By-State Economic Report Shows a Lackluster Louisiana,” followed by an article that treats the state’s economic ranking as emanating from a disinterested authority. (Louisiana came in at #28 on ALEC’s list — the first time it hasn’t placed in the top 25.) North Dakota’s Jamestown Sun, claiming that “the assessment of North Dakota’s business friendly economy is being made again and again by independent out-of-state analysts,” cites ALEC as offering the latest of these “independent” analyses. Maryland’s WUSA9 essentially endorses “Rich States, Poor States” in a short “Your Money” report, pointing to ALEC’s recent “bad report card for Maryland – especially for your tax credit.” And then there’s Utah’s Deseret News, which exclusively interviews supporters of “Rich States, Poor States” – without once mentioning any of the report’s very vocal critics. (Utah, remember, is number one.)