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Politics, Big Money and The Rich

19 Feb

There are many current delusions amongst progressives, for example; adding government mandates increases peoples freedoms, a government sponsored “employment caucus” will increase jobs, and that unemployment checks stimulate the economy, but one of my favorites is that the big money in politics is controlled by the Republicans. KOCH BROTHERS!!! As Open Secrets just revealed, the big money and special interests in politics is firmly in the control of Democrats. Of the top 20 political contributors going back to 1989, 13 of them favored the Democrats. And even more disturbing is that the second largest contributor, the public unions, are directly using tax payer money from negotiated contracts and pensions to support the Democrats. Contracts and pensions of which are driving many municipalities into bankruptcy. Here’s an example of how California is dealing with it, and we all know what Detroit had to do.  Legacy costs for public union pensions will continue to negatively impact cities and counties everywhere, especially as the baby boomers begin to retire. Scott Walker faced this in WI, dealt with it, overcame a recall effort and won reelection. Even that liberal icon, FDR opposed public unions for this very reason:

“All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters.” 

Public unions are a special interest that are increasingly becoming a weight on the American taxpayer, yet the Democrats continue to milk that slush fund as much as they can, unfortunately to the detriment of the American tax payer and citizen. Now don’t misunderstand my position here. I think there is a role for some public unions, but their collective bargaining rights need to be restricted simply because politicians can not be trusted to bargain with tax payer money in good faith. Private unions on the other hand negotiate over private money, so I have no problem there, but as we all witnessed in TN recently, many American workers are no longer wanting to be represented by union bosses that represent themselves and politicians more than they represent the average worker, as evidenced by the cozy relationship and large amounts of cash given to Democrats.

Finally, other contributors to make note of: The Evil Koch Bros at #59. And the US Postal Service Workers Union donated $17 million to Democrats despite being broke and having to be bailed out by tax payers. 

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24 Comments

Posted by on February 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

24 responses to “Politics, Big Money and The Rich

  1. rustybrown2012

    February 19, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Cluster,

    I won’t go into the egregious straw men you list as progressive delusions to open your post other than to say you should really talk to more progressives; most would disagree with your crude caricatures of them and it might be time for you to start dealing with reality rather than the liberal phantoms that reside in your your head. Rather, I’m curious about this statement of yours:

    And even more disturbing is that the second largest contributor, the public unions, are directly using tax payer money from negotiated contracts and pensions to support the Democrats.

    I know unions and Democrats are cozy but what’s your source for this claim?

     
    • Cluster

      February 19, 2014 at 2:40 pm

      I know unions and Democrats are cozy but what’s your source for this claim?

      It was linked right there in the article

      http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list.php

      Look, the delusion statement was a of course sarcastic, but you should know that is who I am.

       
      • rustybrown2012

        February 19, 2014 at 3:02 pm

        Cluster,

        Well, if that was sarcasm, I frankly found it hard to distinguish from your usual point of view. It seems to me that you often offer these lazy characterizations of liberals and then go to great lengths to try and defend them as true. But nevertheless, I’ve already looked at your link and found nothing there to support your claim that public unions are directly siphoning taxpayer dollars from pensions and contracts into Democratic coffers. Do you have a source for that very specific contention of yours, or should I update my list?

         
      • Cluster

        February 19, 2014 at 3:49 pm

        Who pays those public unions chief? And “siphoning” was not the word I used. That was your spin. I just mentioned that their union dues, which comes from tax payer money, was going to support Democrats in a big way. And in turn, Democrats reward them by expanding government and in turn government union jobs – it’s not a healthy cycle.

        And these are not lazy characterizations – many progressives have argued that unemployment checks stimulate the economy, that the health care mandate will give people more freedom, and that unemployment commissions help create jobs – that’s a fact Rusty.

         
      • rustybrown2012

        February 19, 2014 at 4:25 pm

        Cluster,

        Union dues come from union members, not from taxpayers. My use of the word “siphoning” is beside the point. Your specific claim was that public unions “are directly using tax payer money from negotiated contracts and pensions to support the Democrats.” I understand english and I take this to mean that unions are using money that is supposed to go to contracts and pensions for campaign finance, is that interpretation wrong?

        For the rest of it, a minute ago you said your characterizations were sarcastic, now you say they’re fact. Uh, right chief.

         
      • Cluster

        February 19, 2014 at 5:00 pm

        Those are facts, and I am being sarcastic about those facts, because it’s hard to believe delusion can exist on that level. And I don’t know how to dumb this down anymore – public employees are paid with tax payer money. When they pay their dues, from their tax payer based wages, those dues go to their unions, and then on to the Democrats via their contributions. And viola! Democrats expand government and the cycle repeats itself.

         
      • rustybrown2012

        February 19, 2014 at 5:36 pm

        public employees are paid with tax payer money. When they pay their dues, from their tax payer based wages, those dues go to their unions, and then on to the Democrats via their contributions.

        Well you certainly don’t have to dumb it down from there, what you just wrote is very clear, and a far cry from your original statement that’s in question. By your logic, any federal employee who decides to contribute to NAMBLA means that “tax payer money from negotiated pensions and contracts” is DIRECTLY (your word) being used to support NAMBLA. That’s a fair analogy and it’s clearly insane.

        Sorry, your original statement is pure horseshit, and your unwillingness to disavow it or admit you misspoke compels me to upgrade my list:

        Rusty’s Tally Of Facts Pulled From Cluster’s Ass

        Does every state have some level of government administered health care? Yes. Are those programs usually more effective than the federally administered programs? YES.(emphasis not mine) 2/7/14
        And even more disturbing is that the second largest contributor, the public unions, are directly using tax payer money from negotiated contracts and pensions to support the Democrats. 2/19/14

         
      • Cluster

        February 19, 2014 at 5:43 pm

        Look moron, you’ve gotta be the dumbest SOB I have ever come across. Google the solvency of state health care administered health care programs, then google the solvency of medicaid. I am not going to educate you anymore.

        And politicians negotiating with unions over tax payer money has become a big problem.

        I will tell you this amigo – you are neocon just of a different stripe, and since Mitch has decided to ban tiredoflibs, I am going to exercise my right and ban you very shortly.

         
      • rustybrown2012

        February 19, 2014 at 5:51 pm

        As a great philosopher once said: “I am not going to do your homework for you”. That’s a fair rebuttal to anyone expecting you to research and prove their own half-assed claims.

        And politicians negotiating with unions over tax payer money has become a big problem.

        That may be, but that’s not what you wrote.

        The tally stands at 2.

         
      • Cluster

        February 19, 2014 at 5:54 pm

        This is what I wrote:

        Public unions are a special interest that are increasingly becoming a weight on the American taxpayer, yet the Democrats continue to milk that slush fund as much as they can, unfortunately to the detriment of the American tax payer and citizen. Now don’t misunderstand my position here. I think there is a role for some public unions, but their collective bargaining rights need to be restricted simply because politicians can not be trusted to bargain with tax payer money in good faith.

        As I said, you are the dumbest SOB on the planet, and you will be banned when and if I feel like. Your very existence here lies with me.

         
      • rustybrown2012

        February 19, 2014 at 6:03 pm

        I don’t deny you wrote that. I just deny that it in no way supports your earlier claim of “And even more disturbing is that the second largest contributor, the public unions, are directly using tax payer money from negotiated contracts and pensions to support the Democrats.” …which is clearly bullshit.

        Don’t blame me for your inability to organize your own thoughts.

         
      • Cluster

        February 19, 2014 at 6:11 pm

        Wow Rusty, I even gave you the link that shows that state, county and municipal government unions are the second largest contributor since 1989, with 81% of their contributions going to Democrats.

        Maybe I will start my own game. No. Maybe i will just get rid of you.

         
  2. watsonthethird

    February 19, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    Cluster said:

    As Open Secrets just revealed, the big money and special interests in politics is firmly in the control of Democrats.

    I wonder if this is actually true. The first thing I would note is that the data is from 1989 to 2014. The rules of campaign finance have changed dramatically over that period of 25 years, the Citizens United case being one major Supreme Court decision that radically altered the rules of campaign financing.

    Second, the article Cluster linked to has some pretty significant caveats. For instance, it states:

    For example, this list does not include casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. He and his wife Miriam donated nearly $93 million in 2012 alone to conservative super PACs — enough to put him at No. 2 on this list. Similarly, the list excludes former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has donated more than $19 million in the past two years, largely to groups that support gun control. Neither Adelson nor Bloomberg — or the organizations they report as their employers — qualifies as a “heavy hitter” under our current definition.

    And this from the article (my emphasis added):

    It’s also important to note that we aren’t including donations to politically active dark money groups, like Americans for Prosperity, a group linked to the Koch brothers, or the liberal group Patriot Majority — because these groups hide their donors; see a list of top donors that we’ve been able to identify to such groups. We are working to revise this list to take into account the new realities of campaign finance created by the Citizens United decision, but as it currently stands, there are significant omissions.

    So I would like for Cluster to address the rationale for using this list to demonstrate that “the big money and special interests in politics is firmly in the control of Democrats,” especially when it doesn’t even include groups funded by the Koch Brothers, given that there are “significant omissions.”

    Using the link in the article titled “top donors that we’ve been able to identify to such groups,” we can see a list for the 2012 election cycle. The top four are Las Vegas Sands, Adelson Drug Clinic, Contran Corp and Perry Homes. These are all conservative organizations. For example, the Adelson Drug Clinic gave $47 million in 2011-2012 alone, 100% to Republicans, from its PAC and employees. Similarly, the list of PACs that it gave to is entirely conservative. This compares to the first article’s $97 million by ActBlue over a period of 25 years instead of the two years reported for Adelson Drug Clinic.

    Both Las Vegas Sands and Adelson Drug Clinic are controlled by Sheldon Adelson, a well-known conservative. According to buyingourfuture.org, Sheldon and his wife, Miriam, have given a combined $85 million in total contributions. Contran Corp is controlled by Harold Clark Simmons. Contran was very active in the 2012 presidential election, and as of March of that year had given almost $18 million to conservative super PACs, the election’s largest single contributor, spread among all the major Republican candidates.

    The fact that such donors are not included in your data would seem to make your premise suspect.

     
    • meursault1942

      February 20, 2014 at 8:47 am

      Yeah, those admissions alone make the list pretty suspect. Sheldon Adelson gives $93 million to conservatives in one year and somehow doesn’t make the list? That makes it hard to take this list seriously as some sort of proof that the Democrats are the ones controlled by “big money.” Hell, in the 2012 presidential cycle, we saw some Republicans go to an outright patronage model: Newt Gingrich was almost entirely financially supported by Adelson, while Foster Friess was Rick Santorum’s patron. Was there anything even remotely like that on the Democrats’ side? And that’s not even getting into, for example, how Art Pope has more or less bought the government of North Carolina (yet somehow doesn’t make the list of heavy hitters).

      The 1989-present timespan is perhaps useful for tracking longer-term trends–whose power is waning and whose is waxing on a year-by-year basis–but for the purposes of determining who is controlled by big money today, in the post-Citizens United world, that timespan is problematic to say the least. Perhaps the Airline Pilots Association was spending some cash in the early 1990s, but does anybody honestly believe it outspent the Kochs in 2012?

       
      • mitchethekid

        February 20, 2014 at 8:58 am

        Hard to do if the Kochs own the airlines. Hell, if they could they’d buy the air and sell it for premium. A classic example of what’s meant by captive customers.

         
  3. watsonthethird

    February 19, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    Another point to be made is that linking to an authoritative source and making claims that the source doesn’t actually support, is classic conservative methodology. It is exactly how Mark Noonan and Matt Margolis wrote their “worst president” book. They, and Cluster, failed to look any farther than was necessary to supposedly substantiate their pre-determined ideological position. Further, if you start googling around, you find that other conservative websites are spreading the same misinformation. It wouldn’t surprise me that this is also making the rounds of conservative talk radio.

     
    • Cluster

      February 20, 2014 at 4:59 am

      Predetermined ideological position? Combined with the word “their”. So do you envision this collection of evil, misinformed, miscreants working tirelessly to undermine the good intentions that you and other progressives have for this country? That’s funny actually.

      And Watson, I don’t know why you wouldn’t be proud of so much money being raised by your side of the aisle. Other Democrats openly gloated about it:

      http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1012/82909.html

      So why do you always have to be the contrarian? Why can’t you just come out and say, “damn right we raise a lot of money, because we need it to destroy evil people like you”. And you will have to speak with Open Secrets about spreading misinformation. It’s their data, not mine.

       
      • watsonthethird

        February 20, 2014 at 9:01 am

        Yes, their predetermined ideological position. You would have to explain your motivation for this posting, which is based on a faulty premise. As for Matt and Mark, their motivation is obvious. Your silly question about what I envision doesn’t merit comment.

        As for big money in politics, I think it subverts the democratic process. I don’t favor it regardless of whether it favors Democrats or Republicans. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court thinks otherwise; specifically, the conservative justices of the Supreme Court.

        But you know, Cluster, there is a movement to overrule the Supreme Court by amending the constitution: https://movetoamend.org. Maybe you would like to join the effort.

         
      • watsonthethird

        February 20, 2014 at 9:07 am

        And as for speaking with Open Secrets about spreading misinformation, I don’t have to. Their own article–the one you cited–makes it clear that the Open Secrets list is not a reliable source of information. To whit, Open Secrets itself says:

        We are working to revise this list to take into account the new realities of campaign finance created by the Citizens United decision, but as it currently stands, there are significant omissions.

        You are the one who is citing it as proof that those poor conservatives are getting dramatically outspent by liberals. You are the one spreading misinformation.

         
  4. watsonthethird

    February 19, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    Finally, there is the issue Cluster raised that the collective bargaining rights of public employee unions “need to be restricted.” He also implies that supports of public unions, and the unions themselves, give too much money in political contributions.

    So what are you suggesting, Cluster? Do you think public employee unions should be restricted in their political contributions? What is the legal basis for this? (Or is it just because you think such unions are bad for America?)

    The problem here is that the courts have already established that individuals and corporations can give essentially unlimited amounts of money for political purposes. The rationale is that placing limits restricts freedom of speech. Further, for this purpose the Supreme Court has determined that corporations can be treated like people. If that is the case, then it seems inconsistent to argue that limitations should be placed on unions, public employees or not.

     
    • Cluster

      February 20, 2014 at 5:08 am

      Well Watson, instead of questioning my position on collective bargaining amongst public unions, how about if you do a little research on the issue and show me where legacy pension costs of those negotiated contracts have helped strengthen municipalities financial positions, increased efficiencies of services, and has been an overall benefit to the tax payers of that area. I am not talking about some court decision, I am talking about real impact on peoples lives. Ever been to Detroit lately?

       
      • watsonthethird

        February 20, 2014 at 9:02 am

        You missed my point, Cluster. So let me ask you directly: Do you think unions in general, and public employee unions specifically, should be limited in the amount of political contributions they can make? If so, do you also think corporations should be limited in the same way? If not, why not?

         
    • Cluster

      February 20, 2014 at 5:46 am

       
  5. watsonthethird

    February 20, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Another example of the “significant omissions” of the Open Secrets article. Open Secrets says, “It’s also important to note that we aren’t including donations to politically active dark money groups, like Americans for Prosperity, a group linked to the Koch brothers, or the liberal group Patriot Majority — because these groups hide their donors.”

    Do you think that could misrepresent the amount of donations made by the Koch brothers?

    Americans For Prosperity is a non-profit foundation that the Koch brothers set up. It is one of the Koch brothers’ primary vehicles for political spending. As of election night 2012, AFP had disclosed that it spent over $36 million just on the 2012 election, almost all of it against President Obama.

    A more recent article in the Washington Post shows that the Koch brothers network raised $400 million just in 2012.

    The filings show that the network of politically active nonprofit groups backed by the Kochs and fellow donors in the 2012 elections financially outpaced other independent groups on the right and, on its own, matched the long-established national coalition of labor unions that serves as one of the biggest sources of support for Democrats.

    The resources and the breadth of the organization make it singular in American politics: an operation conducted outside the campaign finance system, employing an array of groups aimed at stopping what its financiers view as government overreach. Members of the coalition target different constituencies but together have mounted attacks on the new health-care law, federal spending and environmental regulations.

    As I said before, I don’t like big money spending in politics and I’d love to see it changed. But let’s not pretend that conservatives are getting outspent, and that the Koch brothers have only spent $18 million in the last 25 years. That’s simply not true and an absurd assertion.

     
 
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