Sunday, September 23, 2018
Following the Money: Greasing the Political Machine
Of course, as I explained in numerous articles, Fascism is hard to define, especially when we use the outdated modes of a "Left/Right" model. It's a merger of State and Big Business. In theory, it's suppose to be a "equal partnership" but as a matter of practice, the State became dominant. Today's fascism differs in that the State has become more of a junior partner. Fascism also, as you should know by now, borrows from the history and traditions of its host country, which is why the Fascism of Italy was different from the Fascism of Spain or Hungary, or the Fascism of Romania or that of Germany or even Argentina. Nevertheless, overall, Fascism takes on a Right Wing tilt since its essentially nationalist, militaristic, and regressive. That is, it has a feudalistic quality to it.
The notion of America becoming "Socialist" or Communist is absurd. Why? Because under both systems there would be little to know capitalism. Do you think for one minute that the 1% are going to surrender their wealth and power, then you're either naive or serious out of touch with reality. Wall Street and the big banks or financial giants which dominate the economic landscape like JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, or Morgan Stanley are not going to agree to be absorbed by the government. It's just not going to happen, especially when they are part of the ruling Oligarchy.
Under Communism, there is no private enterprise while under Democratic Socialism. the State severely restricts corporate power. The Supreme Court's great error---upholding Citizens United which made corporations "people" (I refer to them as "Frankensteins") and uncapped the genie in the bottle by declaring the money was equitant to "free speech" and thus couldn't be restricted ensured that corporations would dominate politics openly. Of course, we mere flesh and blood types are still restricted in what we can donate. There's no way we can amass the kind of money that corporations donate.
So then, who are these political errand men and women who work at the behest of these corporate "Frankensteins"? Well, let's look at what industries they represent since that will give an idea at the who the power brokers are. Coming in the top spot is Legal Industries which often represent special issues or groups which typically have a very specific agenda. They donated on behalf of their employers $64, 577,411. Interestingly, 70% of this went to Democrats in Congress with Senator Claire McCaskell (D-MO) getting the highest percentage (these are all based on 2017/2018 election cycle figures) at $4.7 million dollars. Senator McCaskell sits on the Armed Services, Financial, and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (as a ranking member) committees. The second spot was various private trust funds and retired wealthy individuals. Together, they contributed just under $60 million dollars, with 54% going to Democrats; Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) got the single largest share though--$3.4 million. Cruz sits on the Armed Services, Judiciary, Rules and Administration, and Commerce, Science and Transportation committees.
As an aside, while not an "industry", the AARP, a senior's oriented advocacy group, falls into this group since it's comprised of these often well-to-do retirees . The group has approximately 37 million members, although those numbers have been declining. In 2010, AARP donated $27.9 million dollars to Congressional members. However, by 2014 that number had dropped to $8.9 million.
Health Professionals ponied up $34,528,421 with 51% going to Democrats. Senator Brown was the biggest recipient. The Health Professionals as an industry consists of medical doctors and surgeons, pharmacists, nutritionists, and psychiatrists. During the 2015/2016 election cycle, they gave $136 million to candidates and causes, which, while down from the 2012 total of $154 million, still was nearly three times what the top commercial banks gave.
While we're on the topic. Health Services and HMOs was ranked 30th on the list. They donated $8.9 million dollars, of which 51% went to Republicans. Nevertheless, our ole friend, Senator McCaskell was the financial winner. Hospital and Nursing Homes was 31st with $8.7 million dollars raised, and our other ole friend, Senator Brown getting the lion's share despite 56% of the money raised going to Democrats.
Next is the Insurance Industry. They pitched in $30,227,987 dollars (nice to see a part of your premiums being well spent isn't it?). 59% went to Republicans, but ole Sharrod Brown (D-OH) go the biggest piece of the pie . Eighth on the list was Liberal/Progressive and Democrat leaning groups. Though not quite an "industry" per se, they do act similar to one nevertheless. As you might guess, the GOP got none of the $26,793,098 raised. The biggest beneficiary was Doug Jones (D-AL). Senator Jones serves on the Special Committee for Aging, Committee for Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs committees.
By the way, the Republicans/Conservatives have one of these "industries" too. However, it's ranked in the 38th position. It raised from conservative groups $6,965,929, and yeah, all of it went to the GOP. Who was the biggest beneficiary? Why that would that Senator from the Lone Star State, Ted Cruz. You might also like to know that Republicans benefited the most by the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" mistake. In 2012, GOP and conservative groups raised and spent $65 million dollars, which pales compared to the $105 million they raised during the 2015/16 election cycle.
Lobbyists are in ninth place. The lobbyist industry represents businesses trade associations, and special issues as we've discussed. As a group, they've raised just a little under $20 million dollars with 55% going to the GOP and the remaining 44% to Democrats. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) got the most. He also did the best with our tenth spot industry, Pharmacy and Health Products. That group coughed up $16.5 million dollars. So what's so special about Senator Casey? He sits on the Finance, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and the Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry committees (he also sits on two of the same committees as Senator Brown).
By now, you have to be wondering about military contractors, gaming, commercial banking or the oil and gas industry. While most of these are included in other industries such as through as subsidiary or fall under lobbyist industry, they also contributed based on their prime industry. Defense Aerospace gave $9.3 million dollars, of which 58% went to Republicans while Defense Electronics gave $5.9 million dollars . 59% of that went to the GOP as well. Air Transport donated $9.1 million, of which Republicans got 63%. Casinos and Gaming Industry bet $5.3 million dollars, with 52% of that going to Democrats. The commercial banking industry deposited just under $15.4 in the hands of Legislatures; 65% of that going to Republican accounts. The Oil and Gas industry did slightly better at $15.9 million dollars with a whopping 84% going to Republicans.
Unions are in decline and have been for decades. They are in such bad shape, they've resorted to supporting illegal immigrants just to get new member dues. It seems to me they need friends on both sides of the aisle. I would go as far as to says unions need their own political party like every other industrialized country has. I've witnessed Democrats openly making fun of unions and disrespecting unions in general. They fail to use union products or even display the union "bug" on their campaign material, and yet unions endorse them, give them money, and supply volunteers. Once elected, they may or may not support union causes (usually the latter) whereas candidates who are active union members, who use union made products and have the union "bug" who happen to have an "R" or "I" behind their name barely get an audience. Personally, I think it's a grave mistake.
Lastly, there are a few other industries which bear mentioning. The Women's Issues "industry", which is a collection of various groups ranging from equal pay, abortion rights, women's education and voting, domestic abuse, and so forth) raised $12.9 million, and gave 90% of that to Democrats (with McCaskell getting the majority of it). The Pro-Israel "industry" (lobby really) came up with $8.5 million, and while the GOP has historically done the most for Israel, gave 72% to Democrats. Also falling under the category of an "industry", Human Rights groups raised just a little over $6 million; 87% of which went to Democrats, and finally, the Telecommunications Industry, which donated just over $9 million dollars. 53% of the going to Republicans.
Open Secrets: Top Interest Groups Giving to Members of Congress, 2018 Cycle
Top Lobbyists 2017: Hired Guns
Washington's top paid lobbyist firms and who's paying them