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Mega-Donors Are Now More Important Than Most Politicians

Mega-Donors Are Now More Important Than Most Politicians | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
In the post-McCutcheon world, the 0.1 percent are far more important than most candidates. The press needs to treat them that way and subject their views to scrutiny.

 

PETER BEINART APR 4 2014, 12:17 PM ET


Quick: Name a senator who served between the Civil War and World War I. Struggling? Now name a tycoon who bought senators during the same period. J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller ... it’s easier.

 

And for good reason. The tycoons mattered more. Gilded Age industrialists—who had amassed levels of wealth unseen in American history—frequently dominated the politicians who enjoyed putative power to write the laws. In 1896, when corporations could give directly to political candidates, pro-corporate Republican presidential candidate William McKinley raised $16 million to populist Democrat William Jennings Bryan’s $600,000. “All questions in a democracy,” declared McKinley’s campaign manager, Mark Hanna, are “questions of money.”  

 

The Roberts Court seems to agree. The astonishing concentration of wealth among America’s super-rich, combined with a Supreme Court determined to tear down the barriers between their millions and our elections, is once again shifting the balance of power between politicians and donors. You could see it during last weekend’s “Sheldon primary,” when four major presidential contenders flocked to Las Vegas to court one man. When Chris Christie, not known for backing down from a fight, used a phrase (“occupied territories”) that Adelson disliked, he quickly apologized. And with good reason. Adelson, who probably spent north of $100 million in the 2012 election, can single-handedly sustain a presidential candidacy, or wreck one. He’s certainly wields more influence over American politics than most members of the United States Senate.

 

Read more at

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/04/mega-donors-are-now-more-important-than-most-politicians/360192/

 



Via Coffee Party USA
Greg Russak's insight:

We need a Fourth Estate who actually does their job, and part of that job is MASSIVE AND UNRELENTING SCRUTINY of rich and powerful people whenever they choose to wield their wealth AS power over our public institutions and elected leaders.

 

"Big donors will likely fund all this publicity unpleasant. Most would rather shape public policy in private. But the press has an obligation to follow power, to explain how our political system actually works, not to hew to a civics-class fantasy that less and less resembles reality. Since the Roberts Court is dismantling the legal obstacles that prevent America’s 0.1 percent from purchasing politicians, the press should erect cultural obstacles in their place. Our best hope now is massive scrutiny, and, hopefully, some measure of shame."

 

Take action. Add your voice, and help move our political system back in our favor instead of those with lots of money.

 

http://unitedrepublic.actionkit.com/event/cosponsor/9815/

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Coffee Party USA's curator insight, April 5, 2014 11:46 AM

Absolutely. The press has an obligation, now more than ever, to expose Big Money and the power these people wield over our politicians and over us. (CP Curator, Greg R.)


"Big donors will likely fund all this publicity unpleasant. Most would rather shape public policy in private. But the press has an obligation to follow power, to explain how our political system actually works, not to hew to a civics-class fantasy that less and less resembles reality. Since the Roberts Court is dismantling the legal obstacles that prevent America’s 0.1 percent from purchasing politicians, the press should erect cultural obstacles in their place. Our best hope now is massive scrutiny, and, hopefully, some measure of shame."

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America's Richest Political Activists Pour Money Into SuperPACs

America's Richest Political Activists Pour Money Into SuperPACs | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
Hedge fund billionaires Thomas Steyer and Paul Singer are among those deploying their money to promote their issue agendas. Selected congressional candidates will receive political contributions.
Greg Russak's insight:

Thomas Steyer is a former-hedge-fund-manager-turned-tree-hugger. (For the record, I like him).


Give a listen to the source of this post and then listen to this one in which Steyer is interviewed: 

http://www.npr.org/2014/02/24/281916777/billionaire-tom-steyer-puts-his-money-toward-climate-issues

 

Do you want him pouring money into elections? Are you ready to add your name to the American Anti-Corruption Act yet to get all of the big money out of our politics?

 

http://unitedrepublic.actionkit.com/event/cosponsor/9815/

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The Increasingly Unequal States of America: Income Inequality by State, 1917 to 2011

The Increasingly Unequal States of America: Income Inequality by State, 1917 to 2011 | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it

The rise in inequality experienced in the United States in the past three-and-a-half decades is not just a story of those in the financial sector in the greater New York City metropolitan area reaping outsized rewards from speculation in financial markets. Rising inequality and increases in top 1 percent incomes affect every state.

by Estelle Sommeiller and Mark Price, Economic Policy Institute

Economic inequality is, at long last, commanding attention from policymakers, the media, and everyday citizens. There is growing recognition that we need an inclusive economy that works for everyone—not just for those at the top.


While there are plentiful data examining the fortunes of the top 1 percent at the national level, this report examines how the top 1 percent in each state have fared over 1917–2011, with an emphasis on trends over 1928–2011 (data for additional percentiles spanning 1917–2011 are available at go.epi.org/top-incomes). In so doing, this analysis finds that all 50 states have experienced widening income inequality in recent decades.


Read more: http://www.epi.org/publication/unequal-states/


Via Coffee Party USA
Greg Russak's insight:

Data doesn't lie.

 

Executive summary

Economic inequality is, at long last, commanding attention from policymakers, the media, and everyday citizens. There is growing recognition that we need an inclusive economy that works for everyone—not just for those at the top.

While there are plentiful data examining the fortunes of the top 1 percent at the national level, this report examines how the top 1 percent in each state have fared over 1917–2011, with an emphasis on trends over 1928–2011 (data for additional percentiles spanning 1917–2011 are available at go.epi.org/top-incomes). In so doing, this analysis finds that all 50 states have experienced widening income inequality in recent decades.

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Clara Dunphy's curator insight, June 27, 2014 11:50 AM

"In four states (Nevada, Wyoming, Michigan, and Alaska), only the top 1 percent experienced rising incomes between 1979 and 2007, and the average income of the bottom 99 percent fell."

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How to Make Americans Care About Money Corrupting Politics

How to Make Americans Care About Money Corrupting Politics | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
A walk across New Hampshire showed that citizens don't just hate the current system—they're willing to act. The trick is creating a true grassroots movement.
Greg Russak's insight:

LAWRENCE LESSIGJAN 31 2014, 10:41 AM ET


As we started the 185-mile trek from Dixville Notch to Nashua, there were certain things that I knew.

I knew that our system of government had become corrupt. That the system—not necessarily any individuals, but all the individuals together—had been contorted into a shape that makes it impossible for government to address even the most fundamental and important issues sensibly.

I knew this in the way that any academic knows anything: I had studied it, across history and in its current form. I had seen numbers that captured its contours. I had spoken to people who had participated in it, both now and before it had metastasized. I knew it and believed it, and believed passionately that we have to find a way to bring more people into a movement to end it.


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Outside Spending | OpenSecrets

Outside Spending | OpenSecrets | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
Outside groups spend millions during an election to influence voters' decisions with political advertising. Explore those expenditures here at OpenSecrets.org.
Greg Russak's insight:
Outside Spending

The term "outside spending" refers to political expenditures made by groups or individuals independently of, and not coordinated with, candidates' committees. Groups in this category range from conventional party committees to the more controversial super PACs and 501(c) "dark money" organizations.

 

---

 

I'm just going to keep asking until everyone does it.

 

Here's how you can help to get big and secret money out of politics: http://unitedrepublic.actionkit.com/event/cosponsor/9815/

 

If you have a better idea, let's hear it.

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How Liberals Killed The 'Grand Bargain'

How Liberals Killed The 'Grand Bargain' | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
They're already looking ahead to the next battle.
Greg Russak's insight:

 by BRETT LOGIURATO, FEB. 21, 2014, 9:21 AM

 

The "Grand Bargain" — the mythical agreement between Democrats and Republicans to cut entitlement spending — has died.

The cuts to Social Security that were included in President Barack Obama's budget last year were viewed as a necessary olive branch to Republicans at the time. Many Democrats in Washington, including the President, thought it should be on the table to strike a deal — the elusive "grand bargain" on the budget.

A year later, the paradigm has completely swung. Obama will drop the proposal from his budget this year. Led by Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), many Democrats now not only oppose the cuts, but also favor an expansion of Social Security benefits. 

"It is really amazing how much the conversation has shifted," one Senate Democratic aide told Business Insider.



Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/chained-cpi-social-security-progressives-obama-budget-2014-2#ixzz2u6FWXTZR

 

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Players Guide 2014

Players Guide 2014 | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
Greg Russak's insight:

Who are the people and groups behind the TV ads in the 2014 federal elections? Below is a list of organizations that have been active or are expected to be active in raising and spending money to influence voters in 2014. Click on the links to read profiles of each organization. The groups were selected based on the amounts they have spent, or say they plan to spend, or the media attention they have attracted. It is not a comprehensive list, and additional groups will be added as the campaign season unfolds.

 

Many of these groups may legally raise and spend unlimited amounts of money. They are known as super PACs and must register with the Federal Election Commission. Others may legally raise unlimited donations and avoid disclosing their donors. Those groups do not file with the FEC, but register rather with the IRS under Section 501(c).

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Let’s Get This Class War Started: Chris Hedges

Let’s Get This Class War Started: Chris Hedges | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
If we had paid attention to history we might understand the imperative of battling the rich.
- 2013/10/20
Greg Russak's insight:

I consider myself to be a Conscientious Capitalist. I believe most people in business are even if they don't call themselves that.

 

I define Conscientious Capitalists as people who know and understand that it is absolutely possible to have financial success without sacrificing our individual or collective ethics, morals, and integrity. I also include in this definition the principle that our economy is NOT a zero-sum game in which I can only win if I ensure that you lose.

What seems to be missing in today's version of a "free market" is what was missing in the last Gilded Age - compassion and restraint. Then as now, a small number of oligarchs in business and in government control and manipulate too much of our economy for their own personal gain.

 

What I think we need today are leaders who aren't beholden to Big Money and who, instead, will fight for and enforce laws that regulate and produce a more equitable distribution of the gains created by the working class. Yes, it is the working class that drives our economy. It is the working class who are the actual job creators. Our economy will never fully recover without a thriving and prosperous middle class.

 

It also requires and is fully capable of supporting real pathways for the poor to truly follow out of their poverty. One such path should be higher education that gets progressively cheaper the lower one's income until it eventually becomes free. Yes, free, and yes, it would be paid for by taxing the rich so that they will enjoy the benefits of having a well-educated workforce upon which to draw and which, today, they claim they want but can't find.

 

Chris Hedges doesn't mince words, and he may be too far left for some of you. He calls our oligarchs today a cancer in our democracy.

 

I think he's right. Today's oligarchs need to remind themselves about how we treat cancer. They also ought to think about what cancer eventually does to its host body if it can't be treated and subdued.

 

Either way, it doesn't end well for cancer.

 

"The blanket dissemination of the ideology of free market capitalism through the media and the purging, especially in academia, of critical voices have permitted our oligarchs to orchestrate the largest income inequality gap in the industrialized world. The top 1 percent in the United States own 40 percent of the nation’s wealth while the bottom 80 percent own only 7 percent, as Joseph E. Stiglitz wrote in “The Price of Inequality.” For every dollar that the wealthiest 0.1 percent amassed in 1980 they had an additional $3 in yearly income in 2008, David Cay Johnston explained in the article “9 Things the Rich Don’t Want You to Know About Taxes.” The bottom 90 percent, Johnson said, in the same period added only one cent. Half of the country is now classified as poor or low-income. The real value of the minimum wage has fallen by $2.77 since 1968. Oligarchs do not believe in self-sacrifice for the common good. They never have. They never will. They are the cancer of democracy." - Chris Hedges

 

If you want to do something that can change our system and make it possible for people of integrity and commitment to us instead of to money to be elected, then please sign on as a Citizen Co-Sponsor of the American Anti-Corruption Act at http://unitedrepublic.actionkit.com/event/cosponsor/9815/

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