Sunday, November 14, 2010

False equivalency watch: Union versus corporate spending

Written by Allison Kilkenny
October 28th, 2010 at 9:56 am

I overheard CNN’s John Roberts worrying his pretty, neatly-coiffed anchor head about the vast amount of cash being pumped into this election cycle from outside entities. He’s right to be concerned. So far, $4 billion has been spent on the midterms, which according to Open Secrets, is enough cash to “run the city of Pittsburgh for two years, [b]uy every resident of Topeka a nice used car, [o]r treat each and every American to a Big Mac and fries.”

Have I mentioned one in eight Americans is on food stamps? Mm’k.

But the strange part happened when Roberts appeared to draw a false equivalency between unions and corporate spending. He kept lumping the two sources together as though unions were spending just as much on the midterms as outside corporate influences. That’s all shades of wrong.

Election 2010 to Shatter Spending Records as Republicans Benefit from Late Cash Surge
This outside money, made considerably easier to raise and spend by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision primarily purchases television, radio and print advertisements. Sometimes, these messages promote a candidate.

But often, they attack politicos. And of this spending, about $176.5 million has come from non-party-committee conservative organizations, through Wednesday. That compares to $81.6 million from non-party-committee liberal organizations. In four U.S. Senate races, outside groups have spent more than the candidates themselves through mid-October.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($34 million), American Action Network ($22.1 million), the Karl Rove-backed American Crossroads ($19.9 million) and Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies ($16.2 million) and ranked one, two, three and four among outside organizations spending money on independent expenditures, electioneering communications and other political communication costs through Wednesday. All are overtly conservative organizations.

They’re followed in fifth and sixth place by two liberal labor unions – Service Employees International Union ($15.5 million) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees ($11.8 million).
So the outside corporate influences (Chamber, AAN, American Crossroads -which discloses its donors- and Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, which does not,) have thus far spent a total of some $92.2 million dollars on the midterm elections, while unions have spent $27.3 million, less than a third of corporate spending.

Certainly, $27.3 million isn’t chump change, but it’s important to keep these things in perspective. Outside corporate groups are spending way, way, way more than labor unions. Most importantly, while unions must disclose their donors, groups like Crossroads GPS can use virtually unlimited funds from anonymous sources for the sole purpose of undermining the public sector, which of course includes things like federal workers and unions.

This is the first election after the Citizens United ruling, and we’re beginning to see the effect of SCOTUS’s decision. Unfortunately, private business will always be able to outspend labor unions, which is partially why the labor movement has been diminishing over the past few decades. But now the process is really accelerating. Consider these figures from Open Secrets:

In 2006, the federal midterm election cost $2.85 billion, while in 2002, it cost $2.18 billion. The 1998 election cost just $1.61 billion. Races during the 2004 presidential election cycle are tallied at $4.14 billion – only a small fraction more than the predicted cost of the 2010 midterm cycle. The 2008 presidential election cycle, at nearly $5.3 billion, remains the most expensive overall.
Now we’re talking about $4 billion on a mid-term election, a large chunk of it from outside, sometimes anonymous, sources. There’s just no way small, individual donors can compete with that cash machine.

In a democracy, every vote is supposed to have equal weight. But in hyper-Capitalistic America, the rich can buy influence, and the rest of us get left behind. That’s what’s happening here. To frame it as “both unions and corporations” hijacking the democratic process is really misleading. By far, it is corporate spending which has corrupted the political system.


Joe Nuno said...

Attention: TJ
Tell Congress: Maintain Jobless Aid. Call TODAY
Join today’s national call-in to Congress (1-877-662-2889) and tell your senators the very first item on their agenda must be maintaining emergency unemployment insurance (UI) benefits program that is a lifeline for the millions and millions of long-term jobless workers.

If lawmakers don’t act by Nov. 30, 800,000 people who have not been able to find work in an economy where there are five job hunters for every open job will lose this critical help that keeps a roof over their heads and food on the table. By the end of the year, 2 million jobless will be without help and another 1 million a month will lose their benefits beginning next year.

Not only does it look like Congress will leave town this week for its long Thanksgiving break, but outrageously, Republican senators say that their first item of business is extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich that carries a $700 billion price tag.

Call 1-877-662-2889 and ask for your senator’s office and then tell the person who answers the phone:

Across America, unemployment is at record levels. Emergency benefits for workers who have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks are scheduled to expire Nov. 30. I urge you to renew them immediately!

Then log your calls here.

Long-term joblessness continues to be a crisis, with 6.2 million workers jobless for six months or more. Nearly 42 percent of unemployed workers have been jobless for 27 weeks or more.

Never before has Congress decided to cut off extended unemployment benefits when the jobless rate was so high, 9.6 percent. And not since the 1930s have so many unemployed job-seekers been out of work for so long.

Tell your senators we must maintain help for the long-term unemployed. Call 1-877-662-2889 now.

Joe Nuno said...

Mourning in America: Death of the Middle Class
The deficit commission report issued last week is another Saturday night special pressed to the temple of the American middle class.

“Turn over your money and your benefits or your country will die,” the report screams at workers. “You want your country to go bankrupt? No? Then you gotta delay retirement, get less from Social Security, pay more for health insurance and lose your precious few income tax breaks like the one that helps pay your mortgage while the banker is breathing down your neck right now.”

For 30 years, rich conservatives have successfully threatened the American middle class this way, ever since that rich, conservative Ronald Reagan converted the White House into a castle.

The result is a country with greater income inequality than during the age of corporate robber barons at the turn of the 20th century. It is a country whose 21st century robber barons, the richest 1 percent of Americans, take nearly one-quarter of all income and demand that politicians relieve them of their obligations. The rich—hedge fund owners who rake in billions, Wall Street banksters handed bonuses in the millions, CEOs paid eight-figure golden parachutes after they mess up—insist that politicians place government debt burdens on the middle class, the unemployed, the elderly, the struggling young, people whose income has stagnated for three decades.

click here for more

Joe Nuno said...

Attention: TJ

‘Absolute Insanity’ to Keep Bush Tax Cuts for Wealthy

Republicans on Capitol Hill want to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich, which are set to expire at the end of the year. President Obama and congressional Democrats want to extend the cuts for middle- and lower-income families, but not for persons making $250,000 or more.

The Bush tax cuts never came close to living up to the promise that they would create jobs—we actually lost private-sector jobs under the Bush administration. Extending the tax breaks for the wealthy also would add billions to the national deficit.

In a statement today, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said it is “absolutely insane” that in these tough economic times some people want to continue the “tax give-aways to millionaires while working families are losing their jobs, their benefits and their homes.”

We need to focus on creating jobs by giving tax breaks only to middle-class families and investing in rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and green technologies. Millionaires and Wall Street already had their party, which tanked our economy and left Main Street stuck paying the bill.

He urged the lame-duck session of Congress not to compromise on this issue.

The election is over and now it’s time for politicians to show courage and stand and fight on these issues for working families. Let the millionaires fend for themselves for a change.

TJ said...

Joe Nuno - your full of excrement and special interest propaganda.

You and yours exist to bend the politicians to your own interests at the expense of the taxpayer.

I don't care if you mopes don't publish my comments, as you have already been censoring. The truth is the truth.

I have a hard time believing the public hasn't come after you guys with ropes yet.

Either way, I have removed myself from the worst of union influenced puppet politicians - my property taxes are almost non-existent by design and my other taxes are tiny also.

My suggestion to fellow americans is reduce your exposure to union and .gov thugs -, rearrange your finances, get out of the cities and move to low population areas.

That 5-10K per yer your paying in property taxes is a waste - it is very easy to reduce your outflow to these thieves.

You will be much happier knowing you are not contributing to the delinquency of the unions and goverment.

Also, it doesn't look like you creeps are going to be able to use the .gov to screw fedex over, tough luck, huh?

Joe Nuno said...

Attention; TJ

irudedog said...

There is no reason to be so angry by calling people "excrement" tj. Most of the time when a person does this is because of their ignorance on a subject they really no nothing about!
Good bye tj.
Thanks for reading are blog.

Joe Nuno said...

Hey TJ,I hope you and your corporation world sleep well tonight buddy...
Health Care Giants Spent $86 Million in Effort to Kill Reform

by James Parks, Nov 19, 2010

We reported that Big Insurance funneled millions of dollars to the Chamber of Commerce to fight health care reform and millions more to try and water down the law once it was passed. Now Bloomberg Business News reporter Drew Armstrong has put a price tag on the effort to kill the bill. In an article earlier this week, Armstrong says tax records show big health insurers last year gave the Chamber $86.2 million that was used to oppose the health care overhaul law.

The Chamber is not required to disclose its donors, but unnamed sources told Bloomberg that the money came from America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), an industry trade group that represents companies like Cigna and UnitedHealth Group. AHIP’s donation accounted for 40 percent of all the money the Chamber received in 2009.

The money paid for advertisements, polling and grass roots events to drum up opposition to the bill that’s projected to provide coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans, a Chamber spokesman told Armstrong.

But the spending hasn’t stopped. Opponents of the overhaul have spent $108 million since then to advertise against it, the New York Times recently reported—six times more than supporters have spent.

Meanwhile, the big insurers continue to make outrageous profits. Six of the nation’s biggest private health insurance companies saw their profits increase by 22 percent over last year in the quarter that ended in September, according to a new analysis by Health Care for America Now (HCAN).

HCAN says the $3.4 billion in 2010 third-quarter profits for WellPoint Inc., UnitedHealth Group Inc., Aetna Inc., Humana Inc., Cigna Corp. and Coventry Health Care Inc. is tied to the companies spending a “smaller share of their premiums on medical care, purging unprofitable members and burdening consumers with higher cost-sharing limits.”