The Finest Money Can Buy
January 21, 2011 12:14 PM   Subscribe

'The new Republican leaders in the House have received millions of dollars in fresh contributions from banks, health insurers and other major business interests, which are pressing for broad reversals of Democratic policies that affect corporations, according to disclosure records and interviews.''Much of that money flowed to the GOP chairmen overseeing banking, energy and other key committees, who will play a central role in setting the House agenda over the next two years. The impetus behind such largess is simple: Many companies and industry groups hope that House Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio) and other Republicans will succeed in rolling back Democratic policies they find objectionable, including environmental and Wall Street regulations.'

'GOP lawmakers took their first step in that direction Wednesday by voting to repeal President Obama's health-care reform law. Major health-care firms and their employees gave Republican leaders at least $5 million over the past two years, including well over $2 million to Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.), according to a Washington Post analysis of contribution data.'

'Banking, insurance and investment firms gave millions more to lawmakers heading finance-related committees, including Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (Mich.), Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.) and Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (Ky.). Financial Services Chairman Spencer Bachus (Ala.) - who will oversee attempts to undo Obama's Wall Street reforms - received more than $1.2 million from the banking sector, accounting for the vast majority of his total contributions in 2010, records show.

The pattern is similar for other key House panels. Rep. Fred Upton (Mich.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, received more than $400,000 from the energy and mining industries, a leap of nearly 50 percent from 2008. Major contributors included employees of DTE Energy, CMS Energy and the Edison Electric Institute, which represents utilities, records show.'
posted by VikingSword (79 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
I always thought it was "largesse," but you seem to be correct.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:15 PM on January 21, 2011


In other news, the sun rose in the east this morning.

If the healthcare repeal act was called "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act", I can't wait to hear the names of the next bills that are bought and paid for by big business.

Boehner and Cantor can choke on a bag of dicks.
posted by birdherder at 12:21 PM on January 21, 2011 [9 favorites]


That's politics, baby.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:24 PM on January 21, 2011


This is my shocked face. :-O

No wait, that's my o-face. This is my shocked face. :-0
posted by yeti at 12:24 PM on January 21, 2011 [14 favorites]


. Rep. Fred Upton (Mich.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, received more than $400,000 from the energy and mining industries, a leap of nearly 50 percent from 2008.

i live in his district and i should point out that there's not much mining in it - it'd be nice to have someone who represented us instead of people who don't even live here
posted by pyramid termite at 12:28 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


look at those assholes.
posted by empath at 12:29 PM on January 21, 2011


In related news:
House Gop Votes To Keep Government Health Care For Self, Repeal Health Reform For Everyone Else.

Freshmen Republicans Vote To Hide Government Health Care For Self.

House Republicans Explain Why They Won’t Give Up Their Own Government-Sponsored Health Care.
posted by ericb at 12:32 PM on January 21, 2011 [24 favorites]


The opposition should just start calling them bribes, and bring them up as such in every discussion.

Of course, it'd help if the opposition wasn't taking similar bribes...
posted by slater at 12:34 PM on January 21, 2011 [22 favorites]


Imagine if that money went to the government instead of government officials. You might could do something with that for people who really need it.

Oh wait, I forgot, the government is incompetent and wasteful with money. It's not the people in government who are wasteful, it's the inchoate, nebulous concept of government that physically does the actual wasting.
posted by Eideteker at 12:37 PM on January 21, 2011 [15 favorites]


You are a business run society. Good luck!
posted by memebake at 12:37 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Donations for political parties should be illegal. They inherently bias success to those with more money, not better policies.
posted by dougrayrankin at 12:39 PM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


This doesn't bother me because it is good to know that when I grow up and become a rich corporation my voice will be heard.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:41 PM on January 21, 2011 [20 favorites]


We need an FPP to tell us this? It sounds pretty much like Republicans' normal mode of operation.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:50 PM on January 21, 2011


I know you get this a lot, but this struck me as especially eponysterical:

look at those assholes. posted by empath at 3:29 PM
posted by ibmcginty at 12:50 PM on January 21, 2011


look at those assholes.

Wrong thread... oh, wait, sorry, my bad.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:52 PM on January 21, 2011


>: "
If the healthcare repeal act was called "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act", I can't wait to hear the names of the next bills that are bought and paid for by big business.
"

Unlike the showboating inherent in things like the Real Americans Repealing the Socialist Illegal Job-Killing Health Care, Killing It Dead Bang! Bang! Act, the bills and regulation reversals and sweetheart deals that are truly bought and paid for will be hidden in quietly and superficially innocuous things, as amendments to things like, I don't know, "Feeding Our Nation's Precious Children Act Which Is Opposed Only By Monsters Act" which will have broad bipartisan support, and will probably be passed really late on Fridays on the off-chance that the nation's not obsessed with some celebrity going into or coming out of rehab that week.
posted by Drastic at 12:53 PM on January 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


The opposition should just start calling them bribes, and bring them up as such in every discussion.

Of course, it'd help if the opposition wasn't taking similar bribes...


The opposition does, and doesn't get offered bribes. The Democrats, of course, are in no significant sense the opposition to the Republican Party.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:54 PM on January 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


This is about as surprising as it is depressing.
posted by ob at 12:55 PM on January 21, 2011


ob, I think you meant, this is about as unsurprising as it is depressing.
posted by bearwife at 12:56 PM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


I agree with the "oh surprise" sentiment but at the same time I think it helps them when people say "oh it isn't surprising". Because if something like this is posted to a yawn, then people who aren't in the know think it isn't a big deal. But it really is. But collective yawns just normalize the behavior, and people aren't called out for being, as Empath puts it, for being major assholes.

Kind of like, "well if it was such a bad thing they did, how come there isn't a bunch of outrage? Why isn't anybody yelling it from the rooftops?"

This is the same problem I have with the daily show, which I love and think is the most amazing show in the history of television. It still conditions you to laugh and accept the absurd things that happen.

The most game-changing and awesome thing the daily show could do for this next election cycle would be to switch it up. For a week or two, report the blatant lies, the double-statements, the untruths, show the video footage that contradicts the statements. But do it all as a straight news broadcast. No audience. Not a drop of laughter.

Bet people would get pissed then and have to turn the outrage into actual action. Otherwise, you just laugh and go on about your day.
posted by cashman at 12:58 PM on January 21, 2011 [23 favorites]


Oh yeah. Doh! Thanks for catching that.
posted by ob at 12:58 PM on January 21, 2011


Please keep the filibuster. Somebody needs to slow down these idiots if they ever get back in power.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:01 PM on January 21, 2011


Anyway, yeah it's fucking depressing.
posted by ob at 1:02 PM on January 21, 2011


These guys are getting right on it -- just a couple of weeks into the session and there's already five separate bills in Congress to repeal the estate tax.

Say what you want about the blatant corruption, this is excellent customer service.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:04 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I hope ya'll enjoyed your five minutes of progress. All done now, back to normal.
posted by tempythethird at 1:04 PM on January 21, 2011


Exactly - cashman has it, a million times. We are so inured to it, that we greet it with boredom. If all we have is boredom, then how is the new generation supposed to know that the status quo is evil? If it's merely yawn-inducing, then it's clearly not worth spending much energy on. That's how you normalize evil and allow it to keep on going and being the status quo.
posted by VikingSword at 1:05 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


We all enjoying our two-minutes hate then?

Seriously, who is surprised by this? It takes a lot of money to get elected to federal office. That may be a bad thing, sure, but it's hardly news.

Also, news flash! The only people with a lot of money are... people with a lot of money!

We done now?
posted by valkyryn at 1:08 PM on January 21, 2011


Thankfully, the particular bribe-taking, money-huffing, corporate stooge I choose on election day will totally put an end to this.
posted by Legomancer at 1:09 PM on January 21, 2011


Seriously, who is surprised by this? It takes a lot of money to get elected to federal office. That may be a bad thing, sure, but it's hardly news.

If we agree that it's "a bad thing", then maybe we should look for solutions, maybe we should even look into public financing of elections, then?
posted by VikingSword at 1:10 PM on January 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


I can't wait to hear the names of the next bills that are bought and paid for by big business

the "Asphinctersaysnay Act"
posted by Hoopo at 1:11 PM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, news flash! The only people with a lot of money are... people with a lot of money!

We done now?


The US Treasury has a lot of money, in fact they probably printed a couple million over just this two-minutes hate. But public financing of elections would "stifle" the "free speech" of the "people with a lot of money." And also "prevent" those "people" from "buying" legislation favorable to them. So, no, not done now.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:14 PM on January 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


Seriously, who is surprised by this? That may be a bad thing, sure, but it's hardly news. We done now? etc., etc.

Really, this kind of corrosive cynicism is quite destructive. Why should we be "done" with something, just because it's common knowledge? If it's bad, it's bad, regardless of how well known. I certainly am happy people weren't sitting around listening to the evils of slavery and saying "we've had slavery from the beginning of time; this is news? are we done yet?".

And if you think this is a minor matter, then remember, we are passing the laws that govern this country and determine its future. The country has been heading into the shitter the past 8 years or so, in no small measure due to the ability of corporate money to set priorities.
posted by VikingSword at 1:16 PM on January 21, 2011 [32 favorites]


The system works!
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:26 PM on January 21, 2011


Congratulations to all here who campaigned for this.
posted by Artw at 1:26 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


But public financing of elections would "stifle" the "free speech" of the "people with a lot of money." And also "prevent" those "people" from "buying" legislation favorable to them.

Money is speech. The Supreme Court says so.
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:27 PM on January 21, 2011


The new Republican leaders in the House have received millions of dollars in fresh contributions from banks, health insurers and other major business interests...

And this is shocking because ... ?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:29 PM on January 21, 2011


Honestly valkyryn, that "two minutes hate" crack is one of the dumbest things I've heard you say. 1984 was frightening because it illustrated state sponsored hating of irrelevant or even made-up things for purposes of mass manipulation. The "hating" here is mostly critiques of obvious hypocrisy. Maybe not original or particularly insightful, but certainly not false, and certainly not said nearly as often as you might expect in a culture with a free press such as ours, which a few days ago did devote statistically significant airtime to one astronomer claiming we need to add a thirteenth zodiac sign.

I've seen you say intelligent things elsewhere, but with stuff like this you just seem like you're beating the drum.
posted by JHarris at 1:31 PM on January 21, 2011 [10 favorites]


Honestly valkyryn, that "two minutes hate" crack is one of the dumbest things I've heard you say.

"Two minutes hate" is a standard piece of modern polemical shorthand, albeit a lazy one, and has really nothing to do with George Orwell, Eric Blair, Winston Smith, Julia, O'Brien, the Ministry of Love, or Room 101.
posted by blucevalo at 1:50 PM on January 21, 2011


It has been much longer than 2 minutes thank you very much.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 1:52 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's not a two minute hate, dude. This is:

"Fuck those lying, hypocritical, corrupt, unethical, unAmerican, money-grubbing, two-faced, douchebag, asshole, idiot, stupid, lame-brained, goddamn liars in republican party."

Now repeat 25 times.

There's your 2 minute hate.
posted by spitbull at 1:54 PM on January 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Two minutes hate" is a standard piece of modern polemical shorthand, albeit a lazy one, and has really nothing to do with George Orwell, Eric Blair, Winston Smith, Julia, O'Brien, the Ministry of Love, or Room 101.

1984 having as one of its primary themes the political power of language...
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:54 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's my point. The use of the term is lazy, incoherent, and completely abstracted from the original source material. As Orwell wrote,"Modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug."
posted by blucevalo at 1:57 PM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


That's politics fucking criminal, baby.

At least it should be. If I did this as a businessman, it would be called a kickback. Why is this any different?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:00 PM on January 21, 2011


Do we need to list all the democrats taking money from banks, etc? This kind of corruption is not unique to republicans or new.
posted by empath at 2:02 PM on January 21, 2011


Some of the theory seems to be that if the federal government gets rid of health care and other things that are meant to help and protect people, that the states will help and protect people instead. And that if the states decide not to, communities will. And if the communities won't, individuals will.

My question, I guess, is "why didn't the states, communities and individuals do it before?"

Obviously some states do (I live in Hawaii and our mandatory health care thing for employees is pretty fucking awesome), but if things worked at any of the micro-levels, there wouldn't need to be a macro-law.

Anyhow, sometimes certain Republicans come across as people who would force a mother to give birth so that they could immediately squash the baby with a printing press as it emerged from her uterus so that it wouldn't be a burden to the state.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:07 PM on January 21, 2011


Do we need to list all the democrats taking money from banks, etc? This kind of corruption is not unique to republicans or new.

That sounds like a softer way of saying "let's not get all het up about this".
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:07 PM on January 21, 2011


My question, I guess, is "why didn't the states, communities and individuals do it before?"

We instituted strong protections against the rougher edges of life in the 1930's specifically because we'd been confronted with the reality that individuals will not.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:08 PM on January 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the government passed some egregious bill. Lets say it was in the best interest of most people that it was removed. Now, some corporations, acting in both their own interest and our interest, pay to help get it repealed. How do we tell that situation from one where it meets their interest, but not the rest of us? Is it inherently not in our interest if it is in the corporations interest? The whole capitalist system is built on the idea that if we align our interests between business and society, the business will operate for the good of society because it is good for them.

By this, what is good for the corporations is also good for society. If that is not true, then the solution is not to stop corporations from influencing the government, it is to figure out WTF happened and why their interests no longer correlate with societies interest, because the problem is much deeper then who is paying who; without it the whole basis of our economic system will fail.
posted by Bovine Love at 2:16 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


That sounds like a softer way of saying "let's not get all het up about this".

There's no reason to get all het up about it now, if you weren't 6 months ago. Government has always been corrupt, and always will be. I don't think that petty corruption (in the sense of local businesses buying influence from local politicians to get local contracts) is a huge threat to democracy, either.

The K Street Project that the GOP had going a few years ago was a major problem, because it was about institutionalizing the corruption, but that was eventually broken up.

Moreover, the house can't really do anything to damaging with a Democratic senate and executive.

I just don't see anything unusual happening here to get all up in arms about. If you think these people aren't acting in your best interests, the remedy is to vote them out.
posted by empath at 2:18 PM on January 21, 2011


If that is not true, then the solution is not to stop corporations from influencing the government, it is to figure out WTF happened and why their interests no longer correlate with societies interest, because the problem is much deeper then who is paying who; without it the whole basis of our economic system will fail.

I agree with this. There is a real problem with the way corporations are treated in the American system (corporate personhood). As long as that exists, this kind of corruption is going to continue. It has nothing to do with parties.
posted by empath at 2:20 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


We all enjoying our two-minutes hate then?

If you want a picture of the future, imagine grubby fingers grabbing dead presidents' faces— forever.
posted by pyramid termite at 2:26 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do we need to list all the democrats taking money from banks, etc?

Yes. We do.
posted by anewc2 at 3:31 PM on January 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


at what fucking point are we just going to create "A People's Congress" to counter the corporate Congress we are given a "devil you know or devil you don't" option ever 2-6 years?
posted by any major dude at 4:41 PM on January 21, 2011


If there's some way to prevent the "Peoples' Congress" from immediately having the exact same problems as our current Congress, any major dude, then why don't we just apply that to our existing governmental system? (And if not, then what's the point?)
posted by hattifattener at 4:51 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's only expensive to run for office because of advertising, specifically TV.

What does an election look like without TV advertising? It would be interesting.
posted by dglynn at 5:22 PM on January 21, 2011


There's no reason to get all het up about it now, if you weren't 6 months ago. Government has always been corrupt, and always will be.

Personally, I was a bit het up about it six months ago. Citizens United raised my worry level in particular... it's simply a practical observation to acknowledge the influence of money, really, but I think it's possible that with that decision we've crossed an event horizon of sorts and we're no longer able to decrease its influence.

And there are other signs in the zeitgeist that I find troubling. The lack of political will to regulate oil drilling more closely even in the direct aftermath of the recent gulf disaster. The lack of political will to regulate banking and finance more closely in the direct aftermath of the recent financial crisis. "Lack of political will" is probably putting it mildly, actually, since there were and are people who have been essentially vociferously defending BP and our banking/finance system. The mantra of private entities as the source of solutions and public institutions as the source of problems seems strangely as strong as ever even in the aftermath of these high-impact and high-visibility failures.

So, yeah. I've been worried for more than a few weeks.
posted by weston at 6:13 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


There is a real problem with the way corporations are treated in the American system (corporate personhood). As long as that exists, this kind of corruption is going to continue. It has nothing to do with parties.

And which party stacked the Supreme Court that allowed that travesty?
posted by jeffen at 6:19 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


And which party stacked the Supreme Court that allowed that travesty?

The Republicans?

In 1886?
posted by empath at 6:44 PM on January 21, 2011


The Republicans?

In 1886?


Good to know they've always been there to help the big guy.
posted by jeffen at 6:46 PM on January 21, 2011


Good to know they've always been there to help the big guy.

Yeah, Lincoln was a complete bastard that way.
posted by empath at 7:05 PM on January 21, 2011


Ouch.
posted by jeffen at 7:55 PM on January 21, 2011


Really, this kind of corrosive cynicism is quite destructive. Etc.

If you say so. I think this kind of reflexive, partisan doublethink is pretty destructive myself.

The country has only been headed in a bad direction for eight years? That recently, huh? And it's mostly been due to the influence of corporate money on politics? Now there's one of the dumbest things I've heard in a while. I mean, isn't this "flood" of corporate money supposed to be a new thing, kicked off by the Citizens United? Or wasn't that such a big deal after all. I can't remember, as the story seems to change to suit whatever reading is most damaging to the GOP.

Get it through your heads, people: there isn't a single thing being complained about in this post or in this thread which has not been the case for decades, if not centuries. U.S. Grant's administration saw actual cases of blatant, self-conscious market manipulation leading to stock market crashes, congressional pay-raise scandals, an attorney general bribed to not prosecute cases, the whole nine yards. Actual, per se corruption. Plato was worried about this shit. So deciding that this kind of rather attenuated corruption is suddenly newsworthy isn't a long-view, measured response to an acute problem, it's a short-view, politically-motivated response to a chronic problem, which completely ignores the fact that every single member of Congress, with no exceptions of which I am aware, is, by these standards, on the take. Harry Reid? Gambling interests, law firms, and banks. Nancy Pelosi? Health insurers, law firms, and organized labor. Where's the indictment there? Hell, Obama pulled in about twenty-five million from the financial sector, right before hiring Geithner for the Treasury.

So my response to this post is entirely cynical. The OP isn't actually interested in controlling the influence of money on politics, he's interested in bashing the GOP. And, I mean, fair enough, but trying to take some kind of moral high ground here is just hypocritical, especially as it completely ignores the historical trends which might maybe explain the situation better than the "Republicans are evil!" meme he wants to perpetrate. This sort of thing is incredibly effective at permitting inclined persons to vent their spleen for a few minutes, hence the "two-minutes' hate" crack, but I can't say that it's even intended to do anything about the actual problems beyond providing said persons with an opportunity to hate on Republicans.

If that's what gets your rocks off, hey, it's your party, but don't expect me to play ball.
posted by valkyryn at 4:27 AM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you say so. I think this kind of reflexive, partisan doublethink is pretty destructive myself.

it's a factual account of what corporate interests are donating to republicans - you can snark and say that it's been going on for decades - but if it wasn't for stories like these, you would never have been able to make that statement with any confidence - you wouldn't be able to tell us that the other side does it, that u s grant's administration did it, that obama did it ...

now we see the corporate interests pushing their money and influence on the g o p side - look, if you want to know what's going on, you follow the money and this is what this article is doing

you're not just arguing for cynicism, which i find understandable - you're arguing for apathy, withdrawal and ignorance when you suggest it shouldn't be talked about

a two minute hate is better than spending a lifetime with your head up your ass
posted by pyramid termite at 5:13 AM on January 22, 2011


it's a factual account of what corporate interests are donating to republicans

Uh huh. And if you think that's all people are really interested in here, there's a bridge in Brooklyn that's for sale. I don't even see this as being fundamentally serving as a factual account of anything, not primarily anyway. If that were it, we'd be talking about something other than how much we all hate the Republican Party. Corporate money? Feh. Labor unions have contributed way more to politicians than corporations over the last fifty years, which is pretty damned ironic considering that organized labor only represents a small fraction of the American workforce.

I mean, look at the list. Fourteen of the top ten donors since 1989 contribute overwhelmingly to Democrats, eleven of them are unions, one's the plaintiff's bar, one's Goldman Sachs (which does give money to Republicans, just not as much), and one is the Democrats' own fundraising arm. Of the rest of the top twenty, four are on the fence and two lean Republican while still contributing money to both parties. Only nine of the top fifty and less than a third of the top 140 even lean Republican. The 2010 numbers are even more lopsided.

In short: this isn't actually about facts as facts. Nothing ever is, when it comes right down to it. No, this is about finding yet another reason for not liking the Republican Party. Again, fair enough, but it isn't a particularly good or timely reason for doing so, considering, you know, the rest of the facts.

Which leads me to observe that your assertion:

a two minute hate is better than spending a lifetime with your head up your ass

suggests a puzzling assumption that there is a difference between those two things.
posted by valkyryn at 9:33 AM on January 22, 2011


In short: this isn't actually about facts as facts. Nothing ever is, when it comes right down to it.

nihilism is boring
posted by pyramid termite at 10:23 AM on January 22, 2011


Ain't it though?
posted by valkyryn at 10:27 AM on January 22, 2011


Support a Constitutional Amendment: Corporations Are Not People
"We're asking every state legislator in the country to back adopting resolutions supporting the only remedy we have left to correct the Supreme Court's awful Citizens United decision: a constitutional amendment clarifying that corporations are not people.

It will take a long term campaign but a constitutional amendment is the only way to permanently undo the ruling.

Citizens United has already has a huge impact on our democracy. In 2010 spending on elections topped $4 billion, by far the most ever spent on a midterm election and even matching the total spent in the 2008 presidential election.

We've amended our Constitution before in moments when we needed to make fundamental changes to how our country works. Right now is one of those moments because giving corporations the full First Amendment rights of people is threatening the integrity of our democratic process."
posted by ericb at 11:07 AM on January 22, 2011


The OP isn't actually interested in controlling the influence of money on politics, he's interested in bashing the GOP.

Is that the OP's motivation? The title of the fucking Washington Post article is after all: "Corporate contributions have surged for new Republican leaders in House."
posted by ericb at 11:11 AM on January 22, 2011


If that's what gets your rocks off, hey, it's your party, but don't expect me to play ball.

So, why are you participating in this thread?
posted by ericb at 11:13 AM on January 22, 2011


The whole capitalist system is built on the idea that if we align our interests between business and society, the business will operate for the good of society because it is good for them. By this, what is good for the corporations is also good for society. If that is not true, then the solution is not to stop corporations from influencing the government, it is to figure out WTF happened and why their interests no longer correlate with societies interest, because the problem is much deeper then who is paying who; without it the whole basis of our economic system will fail.

there was a debate about this yday between robert reich and some guy from the AEI...

note reich's recent posts on American Competitiveness, and the President's New Relationship with American Business (cf. endogenizing ideology) & The Real Economic Lesson China Could Teach Us:
China has a national economic strategy designed to make it, and its people, the economic powerhouse of the future. They're intent on learning as much as they can from us... The United States doesn't have a national economic strategy. Instead, we have global corporations that happen to be headquartered here. Their goal is to maximize profits, wherever they can make the most money... the prosperity of America's big businesses has become disconnected from the prosperity of most Americans... China is eating our lunch. Why? It has a national economic strategy designed to create more and better jobs. We have global corporations designed to make money for shareholders.
also btw, since defence and medicare are off limits, wait til they start gutting liberal sacred cows like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Legal Services Corporation, USAID, Amtrak, etc.

meanwhile: "The fight against healthcare isn't just about an attack on supposedly socialist medicine, it's part and parcel of a decades-in-the-making conservative legal assault on the role that government has been playing in the United States since at least the New Deal."

oh and re: orwell...
In outward appearance [Barcelona] was a town in which the wealthy classes had practically ceased to exist... [E]veryone wore rough working class clothes... All this was queer and moving. There was much in it that I did not understand, in some ways I did not even like it, but I recognized it immediately as a state of affairs worth fighting for... There was no unemployment... you saw very few conspicuously destitute people, and no beggars... Above all, there was a belief in the revolution and the future, a feeling of having suddenly emerged into an era of equality and freedom. Human beings were trying to behave as human beings and not as cogs in the capitalist machines. In the barbers' shops were anarchist notices... solemnly explaining that barbers were no longer slaves...
posted by kliuless at 11:19 AM on January 22, 2011


Following the Activity One Year After Citizens United
This Friday marks the one-year anniversary of the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision. We here at Sunlight recognize that if Congress and the Supreme Court are going to make it difficult to follow the money, then we're going to have to follow the action. Now is the time for modern-day lobbying disclosure. We need to fix the current regulations and mandate the tracking of lobbying activities in real-time, online.

We've seen creative new techniques in the way election money is spent -- and hidden -- by outside groups. We've seen the legislative effort to respond to the decision fail in the Senate. And we've seen lobbying continue on as it always has been, albeit with less hindrances.

As a result of the Citizens United decision, lobbyists now have a powerful new means of persuasion -- the ability to spend corporate money against a member of Congress without any accountability. We need real-time online reporting of lobbying contacts by anyone who lobbies to counter this new radical power lobbyists have to influence public policy through the very real threat of unlimited campaign ads.

Now, a lobbyist can approach a member of Congress and -- by implication or outright threat -- let the member know this said lobbyist can direct millions of dollars into a barrage of ads either supporting or opposing the reelection of that member. Making matters worse, because disclosure rules are so weak, it is possible for lobbyists to do this with no visible paper trail disclosing his or his client's involvement in placing those ads. When the public learns about these new "powers," their opinion of lobbyists is likely to plummet even further. Lobbyists already ranked last in Gallup's 2010 annual poll on professions' honesty and ethics -- below car salespeople.

To follow and neutralize this new influence, Sunlight is stepping up its push for real lobbying disclosure -- the real-time, online disclosure that works at the same pace as money in politics. Our proposal is explained here, and we urge you to go to PublicMarkup.org to comment on a draft lobbying disclosure bill we just posted. Our hope is that by airing the bill publicly and crowdsourcing its review, we can hone an even better proposal, and build support inside and outside Congress for real-time, online lobbying disclosure.

... Our award-winning Sunlight Live platform will continue to showcase money in politics and lobbying activities disclosures along with live events, adding essential context to public events. Our Influence Explorer site is getting more and more vital data, creating an expanding picture of how and where money is flowing, and from whom. And our new OpenGovernment.org site (which we just launched in collaboration with the Participatory Politics Foundation) is bringing the same kinds of data to state legislatures, which are also strongly affected by the Citizens United decision. And soon, you will be able to research state-based lobby expenditure data thanks to the hard work of the National Institute on Money and Politics.
posted by ericb at 11:20 AM on January 22, 2011


Year After Ruling: Right Gloats, Left Vows Fight
The first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was marked Friday in classically Washington fashion — with protests, press conferences, dueling panel discussions and talk of a new effort by liberal groups to expose some of the conservative nonprofit groups that took advantage of the ruling to spend millions of dollars on political ads.

Supporters of the decision did a low-key victory lap, praising it in panels, press releases and a slickly produced video featuring majestic orchestral music playing over clips of news footage from the GOP’s landslide midterm election victories interspersed with endorsements from, among others, super lawyer Ted Olson, who argued the case and in the video called it “maybe the most important case in history.”

In fact, a year after the court handed down its sweeping 5-4 decision in Citizens United v. FEC, the ruling’s full impact still isn’t entirely clear despite impassioned responses from liberals who decry it for empowering corporations to buy elections and conservatives who praise it as a triumph of free speech.

But the rhetoric and tactics in the continuing battle over Citizens United have shifted, particularly in the two-and-a-half months since Election Day.

Republicans, who once downplayed its potential impact or presented it as equally helpful to Democrats, increasingly acknowledge that it has been a major boon to them. And Democrats are privately conceding likely defeat in their legislative efforts to blunt the ruling, and are now concentrating on planning their own groups to both compete with — and investigate — conservative groups such as American Crossroads that sprouted during the 2010 campaign. [more...]
posted by ericb at 11:26 AM on January 22, 2011


Opinion: Citizens United 1 Year Later -- Unleash the Corruption.
posted by ericb at 11:28 AM on January 22, 2011


Public Advocate De Blasio Releases Report On Impact Of Citizens United In 2010 Elections
" -- Citizens United spending represented 15 percent of total political spending.

-- Citizens United spending was responsible for over $85 Million in all U.S. Senate races.

-- New anonymous spending allowed by Citizens United represented 30 percent of all spending by outside groups.

-- Anonymous donations funded over $40 Million in the 10 most costly U.S. Senate races.

-- Anonymous spending groups created by Citizens United spent 20 percent more on negative advertisements than groups required to disclose."
posted by ericb at 11:33 AM on January 22, 2011


New Survey Finds Four in Five Americans Support a Constitutional Amendment to Overturn the Supreme Court's Decision in Citizens United.
posted by ericb at 11:35 AM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Getting money out of politics is not a partisan issue. I see no advantage in a Democrat being in the pocket of Wall Street predatory corporations versus Republican. Many Democrats, especially from NY, have infamously been in the corner of those corporations.

This article happens to focus on the GOP, because it is they who control the new Congress and it is timely in the wake of the recent SCOTUS decision. There is also the political dimension of the GOP opposition to the Obama/Demo agenda, and it's interesting to see how much that opposition aligns with the flow of money, so it's becoming hard not to notice how the politics and money are in a feedback loop here.

Sure, it's an old problem. But it's what's happening right now before our very eyes and in a very acute form, and I cannot fathom why we should be indifferent to it based on "it's old news". Cancer is old news. And so are many other evils. Are we going to let it kill us, because it has such an old pedigree?
posted by VikingSword at 11:39 AM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is a good point that corruption and how to lessen it's influence is as old as Plato, and even older. Plato was in fact deeply worried, in the Republic he constructs a government where those with more power have less material wealth. He often appeals to the idea of negative benefit: wherein the good or just man rules not because of any honor or material gain but from preventing the great harms to himself and others that will occur if a man less capable, less just rules in his stead.

James Madison's famous quote: "If all men were angels there would be no need for laws much less for government"

Beyond understanding human nature we must also understand how we interact within large, complex systems. The way we organize and interact can either encourage or discourage corruption, bias, short-term gain, etc. "Checks and Balances" were of course an early attempt at preventing or retarding the seemingly natural process of corruption and decadence. Again, the founding fathers didn't exactly believe their constitution would be immune to this natural process, there are many quotes about how citizens of a Democracy must be vigilant, remain educated, informed, active.

Ultimately, I suspect, whatever safe guard is institutionalized will itself become corrupted, a conundrum whose solution I feel can only be pointed to as I would point toward a meta-physic, or spiritual appeal to our better natures (which is no different from the founding fathers). We must become like house keepers and janitors, ever active with the broom and dustbin, shining windows so they are clear, and willing to mop the floors and clean the bathrooms of our nation after a truly awful/awesome party passes.
posted by Shit Parade at 12:27 PM on January 22, 2011


"If all men were angels there would be no need for laws much less for government"

If all men were devils there would be no need for laws much less government either.

New Survey Finds Four in Five Americans Support a Constitutional Amendment to Overturn the Supreme Court's Decision in Citizens United.

I am reminded.
posted by mrgrimm at 7:39 AM on January 24, 2011


Wall Street firms earn high profits with Uncle Sam's backing: Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and other Wall Street giants that played roles in the subprime mortgage debacle are reporting huge profits and awarding hefty bonuses again even as the government remains on the hook for tens of billions of dollars of their debt.
posted by homunculus at 10:18 AM on January 25, 2011


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