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Parliament of Whores

Home | Satire on U.S. Political Scene | Government Shame Record under Bush and Obama | Congressional Hall of Shame | Supreme Court above The Code of Judicial Conduct--Clarence Thomas example | Votes Bought: Corporate Campaign Contributions | Corporate Political Power | CORPORATE WELFARE: Helping Companies Grab More | The Pork Barrel | Illegal workers cost us billions | Flooding the job market with immigration--jk | Pension Plans changes, an overview | WHY THE DEMOCRATS ARE LIKE THE REPUBLICANS--jk | Illegal workers and wages | IRAQ WAR CAUSED BY OIL--proof | HOW CONGRESS WORKS | $200 Billlion Housing Bail-out for Banks--Palast, 08 | SUV tax break | STATS ON CORPORATE CRIME | ELECTION FUNDING REFORM PASSED IN 6 STATES | KATRINA BUSH SHIT | WAR, Another Form of Corporate Welfare | The Iraq War Stimulates Our Economy | CONGRESS TRADES ON INSIDER INFORMATION | Another Election Stolen | Stolen election (Greg Palast, 6-06) | Right-wing Propaganda Machine--Brock & JK | Drug Lobby paid off with Medicare | Immigration Explosion | Constitutional Facade, pot ruling | OIL, war, hegemeny

Votes Bought: Corporate Campaign Contributions

court-vs-labor.jpg

 

From Public Citizen at http://www.citizen.org/congress/campaign/special_interest/articles.cfm?ID=6541, a site worthy of many visits—their library is excellent.

Killing Us Softly: Soft Money's Phenomenal Growth and Its Harm to the Public

Soft money – the unlimited contributions from wealthy special interests to political parties – has become the favorite tool of those seeking special favors from Congress. In 1990 there were virtually no soft money contributions. By the 1999-2000 election cycle, many powerful industries made more than half of their total campaign contributions in soft money, as they practically drove a Brinks’ truck full of huge contributions through the soft money loophole in our campaign finance law. These special interests increasingly prefer to contribute unlimited soft money to Republican and Democratic party committees because the committees are controlled by Congressional leaders and the president. It’s these leaders who help determine the final content of key bills and whether or not a bill is even considered for a vote.

Consider the following industries and special interests – which gave $77.5 million in soft money in 1999 and 2000 – the increasing percentage of their contributions in soft money, and the favors they’ve been winning from Congress and the Clinton administration.

 

Special Interest Soft Money Contributions as a Percentage of Total Contributions

Industry/Special Interest

2000

1992

Gambling

68%

33%

Airlines

63%

14%

Tobacco

62%

49%

Pharmaceutical Manufacturers

61%

26%

Telephone Utilities

56%

20%

Computers/Internet

52%

34%

Oil and Gas

45%

26%

NRA/Gun Rights

44%

0%

HMOs/Health Services

44%

17%

Forestry and Forestry Products

43%

7%

Average

54%

23%

Source: Center for Responsive Politics (www.opensecrets.org) data analyzed by Public Citizen.

Data lags about two months behind current date.

  • The gambling industry won a $316 million tax break in 1998, thanks largely to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), who slipped a pro-casino provision into an IRS Reform bill. Last year, Republican and Democratic leaders also blocked legislation that would have banned gambling on college sports. (Gambling industry soft money 1999-2000: $6.4 million)
  • In 1999, the airline industry, despite a record number of consumer complaints (delays rose 58 percent and canceled flights grew by 68 percent from 1995 to 1999 according to theTransportation Department’s inspector general), stymied a seemingly popular passenger bill of rights proposed by members of Congress. Instead, the airlines persuaded Congress to allow the industry to write its own voluntary guidelines for improved service. (Airline industry soft money 1999-2000: $4.1 million)
  • In June 1998, Lott and National Republican Senatorial Committee head Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) organized the votes to kill Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) tobacco control bill, which would have increased public health funds, enhanced the government’s authority to regulate nicotine and reduced youth smoking. McCain attributed the bill’s defeat in part to contributions the tobacco industry used as "protection" money. (Tobacco industry soft money 1999-2000: $5.0 million)
  • Last year the drug industry stopped Democratic proposals to provide prescription drug coverage through Medicare and persuaded GOP leaders to push a pro-industry bill that subsidizes insurance companies to offer drug benefits. (Drug industry soft money 1999-2000: $10.9 million)
  • AT&T contributed more soft money ($3.2 million) than any other company in the last election. Ma Bell – which has moved into cable TV in hopes of dominating the high-speed Internet market – wanted Congress to relax federal rules on cable TV ownership so it could hold onto cable monopolies it acquired. AT&T nearly succeeded in getting its legislative favors slipped into spending bills. But a blast of adverse publicity caused GOP House and Senate leaders to drop their stealth maneuvers late last year. (Telephone utilities soft money 1999-2000: $11.6 million)
  • Computer and Internet companies got three of their main wishes from Congress in 1999 and 2000: limited liability for Y2K defects, increased immigration visas for foreign high-tech workers, and normalized trade relations with China. (Computer and Internet industry soft money 1999-2000: $18.0 million)
  • The oil and gas industry has convinced Majority Leader Lott, other GOP leaders and President George W. Bush that the best way to slow rising gas prices would be to allow drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Congressional allies of the industry pushed for access to the ANWR last year, but were stopped by the Clinton administration. (Oil and gas industry soft money 1999-2000: $13.5 million)
  • In the last two years, the National Rifle Association and several smaller gun rights groups have thwarted marching moms and congressional proposals requiring safety locks on handguns and mandatory background checks for guns sold at gun shows. (NRA/gun rights groups soft money 1999-2000: $1.6 million)
  • In the last two years, HMOs and managed care companies have stalled a patients’ bill of rights that enjoyed strong bipartisan support in the House because the bill would allow patients to sue HMOs for denying them needed care. (HMO and managed care soft money 1999-2000: $2.8 million)
  • Timber companies have enjoyed a massive government subsidy. The U.S. Forest Service sells timber from national forests at bargain prices and has built 440,000 miles of logging roads in public forests to benefit private companies. (Federal auditors say the Forest Service lost $2 billion on timber sales between 1992 and 1997.) Last year, bills to reduce the federal subsidy were narrowly defeated in the House and the Senate. (Timber industry soft money 1999-2000: $3.5 million)

 

How the System Works (or doesn't work) and What to Do About It

  • Of the world's 100 largest economic entities, 51 are now corporations and 49 are countries. (see chart)
  • The world's top 200 corporations account for over a quarter of economic activity on the globe while employing less than one percent of its workforce. (source)
  • The richest 1 percent of Americans own 40 percent of the nation's household wealth (as of 1997). (source)
  • The assets of the world's 358 billionaires exceed the combined annual incomes of countries with 45 percent of the world's people. (source)
  • The average CEO in the U.S. made 42 times the average workers pay in 1980, 85 times in 1990 and 531 times in 2000. (source)
  • The courts have given corporations the basic Constitutional rights of persons, but workers lose those rights on entering the workplace.
  • The corporate share of taxes paid has fallen from 33 percent in the 1940's to 15 percent in the 1990's. Individuals' share of taxes has risen from 44 to 73 percent.
  • The World Trade Organization effectively gives corporations veto power over our U.S. environmental and labor laws, weakening your right to protect ourselves and our land by our legislation.

Corporations can't cast a ballot, but they do vote with their wallets. In the 1995-96 election cycle, corporations and corporate PACs contributed $147 million to candidates running for federal office. The United States is one of the few democracies where such donations are legal. The Supreme Court affirmed the right of corporations to pay for electoral campaigns in the 1978 case First National Bank v. Bellotti. Writing for the majority, Justice Lewis Powell explained that giving cash to influence the outcome of an election "is the type of speech indispensable to decision making in a democracy, and this is no less true because the speech comes from a corporation rather than an individual."

 

 

From Public Citizen, Congress Watch at  http://www.citizen.org/congress/campaign/issues/constitution/, a website worth many visits. 

 

 

Odd that money is considered free speech.  Every ruling has its verbal justifications—even when they must tread upon meaning and logic.  For the reconstruction of the plain meaning of the Bill of Rights.  Corporations simply aren’t people.   

 

There is also a violation of the conflict of interest principle.  The purpose of government is to maximize the well being of the people.  Funds are donated to influence actions.  To allow a group to far surpass others in the total amount of donations is to produce legislation favoring that group.  Big business is buying policy, and the rewards per investment have been substantial.  If this was permissible in courts, then it would be okay to give a judge who is deciding a case to accept “donations.”  The legislators and president sit as judges of corporate actions, and yet it is permissible for corporations to make donations. 

 

Constitutional Issues

More so than for most other fields of law, campaign finance law is subject to close review by the courts for constitutionality. Ever since the landmark 1976 Buckley decision, which in essence defined campaign money as "free speech," legislative and regulatory efforts to curtail the importance of money in politics routinely draw court challenges alleging infringement of First Amendment rights. Thus, it is critical for proponents of reform to be aware of the constitutional issues and recent court decisions involving money in politics when it comes to proposing campaign finance legislation and regulations.

 

The landmark decision of Buckley v. Valeo [424 U.S. 1 (1976)] has largely set the tone for judicial review of campaign finance laws, though subsequent decisions – including the pending case of McConnell v. FEC – have modified some of the constitutional constructs of the early decision. In order to grasp the court’s constitutional interpretations applicable to campaign finance law, it is necessary to begin with understanding the Buckley decision.

 

Congress approved a significant federal campaign finance law in 1971, known as the Federal Election Campaign Act, which was subsequently amended in 1972 and 1974 into an even stronger law, complete with spending ceilings and public financing. At the time, Senator James Buckley (R-NY) had joined with former Senator Eugene McCarthy (D-MN) and General Motors heir Stewart Mott to challenge the constitutionality of the new law. Secretary of Senate Francis Valeo joined with Common Cause and the League of Women Voters as defendants of the law. In the end, the court struck down several key elements of the law.

 

The central question addressed by the court was posed by Justice Potter Stewart: Is money speech and speech money? In other words, does money form the basis for candidates and committees to convey their ideas to the public? A majority of the court ruled that money as an expenditure is in essence free speech. Thus, the court opined that it is unconstitutional for the government to mandate limits on political expenditures. Candidates, committees, special interest groups and individuals have the constitutional right to spend all the money they wish for campaign advertisements.

 

However, the court added several important caveats. First, and most importantly, while money as an expenditure is tantamount to free speech and not subject to mandated limits, money as a contribution to others is equivalent to proxy speech—that is, money in the latter case simply serves to help enable someone else to speak on your behalf. As proxy speech, contributions are not entitled to the same constitutional protections as expenditures. The "quantity of the communication by the contributor does not increase perceptibly with the size of the contribution." In this instance, First Amendment considerations are outweighed by the potential for corruption or perceived corruption caused by large contributions. Thus, governments may mandate limits on contributions to candidates and committees.

 

A second important caveat in the Buckley decision is that while governments cannot mandate limits on candidate expenditures, governments may offer incentives to encourage candidates voluntarily to limit their expenditures. Under the FECA, for example, the federal government could offer public funds to candidates in a contractual exchange for the candidates to voluntarily limit spending. Finally, the court also upheld the disclosure provisions of the FECA, ruling that governments may require candidates and committees to publicly disclose their contributions and expenditures as a means to increase public confidence in the electoral process.

 

Immediately following the ruling, Congress went back to the drawing board and attempted to rewrite the Federal Election Campaign Act to accommodate the court’s objections. The FECA of 1976 proved to be a substantially weaker version of its 1974 counterpart. Spending ceilings became voluntary, and only applicable to those presidential candidates who accepted public financing. Special interest groups, committees and wealthy individuals could make unlimited "independent expenditures" for or against candidates. Subsequent amendments loosened the Act even further, allowing party committees, for example, to accept and spend unregulated funds for "party-building" activities. Known as the "soft money" loophole, this amendment was eventually expanded by Federal Election Commission regulations to allow wealthy individuals and groups and even corporations and labor unions to make unlimited contributions to party committees, thereby circumventing contribution source limits of the Tillman and Hatch Acts.

 

It took until the year 2002 for Congress to revisit the issue of campaign finance once again in a serious fashion. The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA) was the result, which reaffirmed the prohibition against soft money and redefined what constitutes a campaign advertisement subject to regulation.

 

Before the law ever took effect, 88 plaintiffs – ranging from the national and state political parties to the NRA to Sen. Mitch McConnell – filed lawsuits against BCRA on First Amendment grounds. The case is now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

 

 

If there lips are moving they are lying.  


The one thing you can be sure that they stand for, is to get elected.

 

If there lips are moving they are lying (said of politician)
 
 

To understand developments in our political system (both parties) one must understand the role of neoliberalism.  Any analysis which misses this connection is grossly inadequate.  (Neocons follow neoliberalism economic policies). 

 

We have an evil, evil system. Words such as imperialism, greed, corporate greed, neoliberalism, neoconservate, globalism, bought politicians, control of media are descriptive.   There are reasons why the labor movement has collapsed.  It is the politics of neoliberalism, an out growth of corporate greed.  Given how it opposes the public weal, we have devoted a section to expose just what neoliberalism is—a thing that the five corporations which own broadcasting will not do. 

 

THE BRINK OF ECONOMIC COLLAPSE

Things have gotten worse, the hole the neocons has dug is much deeper.  The economic stats are worse than bad:  the trend is toward greater disparity of wealth and on top of that the U.S. is loaded with debt and imbalance of trade.  The debt can through fiscal austerity can be paid off (as some of it was under Clinton), but the trade imbalance will only grow due to the dismantling of are industrial base and the setting up of free trade agreements such as NAFTA.   The current foreign debt is equaled to over 70% of GDP, a ratio unmatched by far among industrialized nations.  To find out what economics is called the dismal science and the role of neoliberalism.