How Corporations Own Congress

lobbyistsWith the November elections quickly approaching, the majority of Americans will be thinking one thing: “Who cares?” This apathy isn’t due to ignorance, as some accuse. Rather, working people’s disinterest in the two party system implies intelligence: millions of people understand that both the Democrats and Republicans will not represent their interests in Congress.

This begs the question: Whom does the two party system work for? The answer was recently given by the mainstream The New York Times, which gave us an insider’s peek on how corporations “lobby” (buy) congressmen. The article explains how giant corporations — from Wall-mart to weapons manufacturers — are planning on shifting their hiring practices for lobbyists, from Democratic to Republican ex-congressmen in preparation for the Republicans gaining seats in the upcoming November elections:

“Lobbyists, political consultants and recruiters all say that the going rate for Republicans — particularly current and former House staff members — has risen significantly in just the last few weeks, with salaries beginning at $300,000 and going as high as $1million for private sector [corporate lobbyist] positions.” (September 9, 2010)

Congressmen who have recently retired make the perfect lobbyists: they still have good friends in Congress, with many of these friends owing them political favors; they have connections to foreign Presidents and Kings; and they also have celebrity status that gives good PR to the corporations.

Often, these congressmen have done favors for the corporation that is now hiring them, meaning, that the corporations are rewarding the congressmen for services rendered while in office, offering them million dollar lobbyist jobs (or seats on the corporate board of directors) that requires little to no work.

The same New York Times article revealed that the pay for 13,000 lobbyists [!] currently bribing Congress is a combined $3.5 billion. It was also explained how some lobbying firms keep an equal amount of Democrats and Republicans on hand, so they can be prepared for any eventuality in the elections.

This phenomenon is more than a little un-democratic: when millions of people vote for a candidate, the outcomes are quickly manipulated and controlled before the election even happens.

Interestingly, the corporate-directed Wall Street Journal wrote a similar article in 2008, as the Democrats had begun to dominate politics in Washington:

“Washington’s $3 billion lobbying industry has begun shedding Republican staffers [politicians], snapping up Democratic operatives [politicians] and entire firms, a shift that started even before Tuesday’s ballots were counted and Democrat Barack Obama captured the presidency.”

This article was appropriately titled “Lobbyists Put Democrats Out Front as Winds Shift.”

The corporate money flows from party to party, so that the same goals are achieved: higher profits for corporations. The sums thrown at these politicians are mind boggling: the Associated Press reported that the corporate-orientated Chamber of Commerce spent “… nearly $190 million since Barack Obama became president in January 2009.”

These numbers explain the “deeper” differences between Democrats and Republicans — money. Each party is a machine that vies for power because this power carries with it vast sums of corporate money. The longer a party is in office and the more connections it makes, the more its net worth to corporations, the more that these rewards can be spread to the different layers of the party. There is indeed a real-life, nasty fight between the Republican and Democratic Parties to dominate this corporate money.

One “interest group” that ex-Congressmen don’t work for is labor unions. Unions spend millions of dollars to help get Democrats elected, and millions more is spent trying to get their ear while they’re in office.

But unions cannot out-spend the banks; and they can’t offer millionaire retirement packages to retired Senators. The corporate retirement plans of Congressmen prove where their minds are while in office, and whose interests are being looked after.

Unions cannot continue to pretend that the Democrats are their “friends.” Labor has very little to show for this dysfunctional, decades-long friendship: union membership continues to shrivel as do jobs, wages and benefits for workers – a losing strategy if ever there was one.

A “lesser of two evils” approach to politics equals evil politicians for labor, no matter who wins. In fact, the lesser-evil Democrats have become increasingly evil over the years, to the point where the party as a whole is more Conservative than the Nixon-era Republicans.

The point has been reached where — in various states — Democratic governors are being endorsed by unions after promising to attack the wages and benefits of public workers!

To get out of this vicious, dead-end cycle, unions could unite their strength to form coalitions that promote independent labor candidates: 100 percent funded by labor to govern 100 percent in the interest of working people. All other roads lead back to the corporate lobbyists.

Shamus Cooke

About Shamus Cooke

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org). He can be reached at shamuscook@yahoo.com

Comments

  1. Dear Progressive

    I have seen and had ENOUGH failure from the progressive side of politics. I want progressives to succeed. We cannot play nice with conservatives. I save my compassion for the poor, the working man and woman, the unemployed, the retired elderly and disabled and the disenfranchised.

    This failure comes from the REFUSAL to use consumer boycotts against conservatives and their friends by progressives suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. In fact I now refuse to help so called progressive organizations that will not boycott the friends of conservatives in order to put pressure on the conservatives to do as we demand.

    I do not have compassion for bull headed conservatives bent on ruining other people’s lives.

    The way we do not play nice involves what Gandhi would do, namely shun those and their friends who seek to ruin other people’s lives. I did not originate boycotts but I appear new in adapting the boycott to political and legislative outcomes.

    I have created a new liberal legislative political party: The Liberal Democratic Party of the United States.

    We do not raise money.

    We do not handle money.

    We do not break up your Party. You remain in your own chosen party for the purpose of elections but you also join mine for the purpose of getting needed legislation and political action.

    We tell you how not to spend your money and get legislation for
    not spending money with well known conservative contributors.

    It costs nothing to join this party but some of your day
    sending these emails and getting many others to send these emails.

    We can get progressive legislation with a new strategy.

    Please pass this email to your friends as soon as possible. Thank you.

    Instead of petitioning a corporate corrupted congress for legislation, petition the corporate friends of conservatives in both the GOPranos and the Democratic party for legislation and include a boycott threat in your email petitions as you see below. Spread the word please.

    You can find the full list of emails here

    http://www.hoflink.com/~dbaer/help-me-change-america1.htm

  2. They do what you want in the UK, they have more than two parties, one of which is named labor. I have not seen a POTUS who treated the unions as well as the current one between FDR and now. The saving of the unions of GE, GM, AIG, and both GSEs was a once in a liftime deal. The bond holders of GM get a penny on the dollar and the union gets 50 pennies on the dollar for stock, and all this while by law, the bonds holders are ahead of stock holders. Well, the hell with the law, this is a bale out, so we changed the rules in mid-air to help the unions. To think must less say that the current dems are more conservative than Nixon gop is funny, please give three reasons that is true.

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