Why We Can't Have Nice Things
Open Secrets marked a memorable milestone last week, one that shows why those of us in the 99% can't seem to make any headway.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has made big news with the filing of a simple quarterly report.
When the behemoth business trade group reported its lobbying numbers for the second quarter of 2013 on Monday, it set a new record: The Chamber became the first organization to report lobbying expenditures of more than $1 billion, according to OpenSecrets.org. Reporting that it spent $19.11 million from April through June, its grand total now stands at $1,002,845,680 since 1998, when the Center for Responsive Politics began tracking lobbying data. ...
In 2012 alone, the Chamber -- which boasts a business membership in the hundreds of thousands -- devoted $136.3 million to influencing government policy, more than triple the total of the second highest spender. In fact, the lobbying expenditures of the next five firms added together still wouldn't equal the Chamber's outlays.
Yet the Chamber, which did not respond to requests for comment on this story, spent even more in previous years. In 2010, it dished out an all-time high $157.2 million on lobbying; 2009 was a close second....
In the 2012 election cycle, the PAC gave just $222,500 to federal candidates -- 89 percent of it to Republicans. And the rightward lean was no anomaly: In six of the last eight election cycles, the lobbying organization's PAC sent more than 82 percent of its cash to Republicans. The best that Democrats have been able to do was in the 2008 cycle, when they captured 37 percent of the PAC's gifts. But that didn't last long, as the figure dropped right back to 12 percent in 2010.
The Chamber used its treasury to make a far bigger partisan splash, giving $2.25 million to the Republican Governors Association in the most recent cycle and more than $4 million to the Republican State Leadership Committee (both are most active in state, not federal, politics); on the other side, the Democratic Governors Association was given just $100,000. [Emphasis added]
A billion dollars over 15 years, most of it to the GOP. That's a pretty hefty figure, but what really shocks me is the amount of money given on the state level, quite clearly to affect local affairs. That would certainly explain a few things, wouldn't it?
It's pretty hard for us to compete with that kind of money. Probably impossible.
Again, I'm not that optimistic.