Lobbying and Political Reform: Your Money vs. the Largest Corporations

Gary North (www.garynorth.com), May 29, 2015

The Sunlight Foundation has compiled data on political spending by 200 corporations. You knew it was bad. You had no idea. Here are highlights:

Between 2007 and 2012, 200 of America’s most politically active corporations spent a combined $5.8 billion on federal lobbying and campaign contributions. A year-long analysis by the Sunlight Foundation suggests, however, that what they gave pales compared to what those same corporations got: $4.4 trillion in federal business and support.

That figure, more than the $4.3 trillion the federal government paid the nation’s 50 million Social Security recipients over the same period, is the result of an unprecedented effort to quantify the less-examined side of the campaign finance equation: Do political donors get something in return for what they give?

Four years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court suggested the answer to that question was no. Corporate spending to influence federal elections would not “give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption,” the majority wrote in the landmark Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision.

Sunlight decided to test that premise by examining influence and its potential results on federal decision makers over six years, three before the 2010 Citizens United decision and three after.

We focused on the records of 200 for-profit corporations, all of which had active political action committees and lobbyists in the 2008, 2010 and 2012 election cycles — and were among the top donors to campaign committees registered with the Federal Election Commission. Their investment in politics was enormous. There were 20,500 paying lobbying clients over the six years we examined; the 200 companies we tracked accounted for a whopping 26 percent of the total spent. On average, their PACs, employees and their family members made campaign contributions to 144 sitting members of Congress each cycle.

After examining 14 million records, including data on campaign contributions, lobbying expenditures, federal budget allocations and spending, we found that, on average, for every dollar spent on influencing politics, the nation’s most politically active corporations received $760 from the government. The $4.4 trillion total represents two-thirds of the $6.5 trillion that individual taxpayers paid into the federal treasury.

Welcome to the world of “Fixed Fortunes,” a seemingly closed universe where the most persistent and savvy political players not so mysteriously have the ability to attract federal dollars regardless of who is running Washington. . . .

Of the 200 corporations we examined, we could sum the financial rewards for 179. Of those, 138 received more from the federal government than they spent on politics, 102 of them received more than 10 times what they spent on politics, and 29 received 1,000 times or more from the federal government than they invested in lobbyists or contributed to political committees via their employees, their family members and their PACs. . . .

For every dollar spent influencing politics, the Fixed Fortune 200 received $760 from the government.

The final sentence is the capper.

What can we learn? This: those with lots of money to spend on lobbying get a huge payoff. They will not stop. It’s too profitable.

The political order therefore moves toward fascism: the government-large business partnership. This has to do with buying votes. Other groups are not equally focused. When you get $760 for each dollar spent, you will win in the contest of politics.

No reform will work. All talk of national political reform is smoke and mirrors.

There is only one way to reduce this corruption: shrink the FedGov. There is only one way to do this: wait for its bankruptcy. You don’t have to do anything. Worse: anything you do to reform the system at the top is wasted time and money.

Education helps, but not much. In the crisis, it will help a little, but how many voters will understand? Hardly any.

Technology is on our side. Unfunded federal liabilities are on our side. The compounding of debt is on our side. But reform will come from outside the establishment, not from within. It will come only because the status quo will not be able to be funded. Debt will overwhelm the federal government’s system.

As long as the state can pay its bills, reform is futile.