The Corporations That Occupy Congress
The Corporations That Occupy Congress
by David Cay Johnston via taxprofblog and Reuters
Some of the biggest companies in the United States have been firing workers and in some cases lobbying for rules that depress wages at the very time that jobs are needed, pay is low, and the federal budget suffers from a lack of revenue.
Last month Citizens for Tax Justice and an affiliate issued Corporate Taxpayers and Corporate Tax Dodgers 2008-10. It showed that 30 brand-name companies paid a federal income tax rate of minus 6.7% on $160 billion of profit from 2008 through 2010 compared to a going corporate tax rate of 35%. All but one of those 30 companies reported lobbying expenses in Washington. Another report, by Public Campaign, shows that 29 of those companies spent nearly half a billion dollars over those three years lobbying in Washington for laws and rules that favor their interests. … The report – “For Hire: Lobbyists or the 99 percent” – says that while shedding jobs, the 30 companies are “spending millions of dollars on Washington lobbyists to stave off higher taxes or regulations.”
Company reports to shareholders show that among the 30 companies in the Public Campaign report, the 10 firms that spent the most on lobbying during the same three-year period fired more than 93,000 American workers. …
Worth reading the whole piece.
My, that is a big surprise!
As PJ said, when politicians get to decide what is bought and sold then the first thing to be bought and sold will be politicians.
The only way to get money out of politics is to get politics out of money.
For example this story:
All this gas from fracking. Which companies will be allowed to make money from exporting it is now part of the political process. So, what does anyone expect? Quite, a few millions here and there to politicians to make sure the political decision goes to the “right” companies.
Take the power away from hte politicians and you stop anyone having a reason to give money to the politicians.
It is a conundrum no doubt, and forever some kind of balance.
I thought lobbying is not a deductable expense yet here we are told about 29 companies that report lobbying expenses and don’t pay taxes on that money. Maybe somebody can enlighten me here–seems like a simple case of me being ignorant of something.
Well Tim its hard to say whether your comment is too simplistic or just simple minded. You say a little about the conundrum we call electoral government, but you say so little about the real issue. That would be money in the electoral process. An aligned corporate media is also a contributor to the problem. Whether or not you realize it, and it would be no surprize that even the best educated among us may have lost sight of what good government is all about, it’s the people we choose not the purpose for the choosing. We live in a complex society. Even the most rudimentary of societies requires organization through government.
You pick an excellent example to emphsize my point, not your own. Gas drilling via a fracturing process, aka gas fracking, is a complicated business frought with many dangers. I find it interesting that you suggest that the government involvement has to do with the choosing which frackers(?) get to do the extyracting and marketing of the product. In fact the issue isn’t who does the fracking, but rahter how do we keep them from fracking the eartha and fucking the inhabitants of those areas of the Earth that seem to be suited to frack. Part of the problem, and this is where we agree to an extent, is that the participants we have sent to represent us in the government are more likely to represent the interests of the frackers. We may as well have elected Frick & Frack for all the good our current government representatives may be. And therein lies the problem in its resultant stage. It is not the government, nor the process of government that is a fault in the system. It is our elected representatives who have the duty to govern for the people, but not the intention. People are beginning to recognize the dysfunctional character of our federal government. People like Boehner, Cantor et al (including the Democrats) make it glaringly obvious that they are offering a charade. Local government is only more of the same in the homegrown edition.
In effect we get what we pay for. That is he who pays gets what he pays for. The behavior of those elected to represent the people in the government will not be corrected until the process of paying for the electoral process is changed. Money and politics are a bad mix. It’s really that simple, but not as simple as Tim makes it out to be.
I’d honestly like to know how those who say we should get money out of politics see a way to doing so. It fundamentally takes a certain amount of resources to create enough awareness of a politician to make them realistically electable. With this as a given, either you have effectively unlimited freedom of fund sourcing, which leads to oligarchy, or you “publicly” fund campaigns and the process of who receives those funds gets politicized, leading to oligarchy.
Perhaps there’s some elegant third solution.
poppies I don’t think there’s an elegant solution. Money always will be in politics so corruption is a constant threat to be monitored and countered. I do believe it’s probably better to have competing sources of funds/support, like when big business was offset by big labor. Although such competition can lead to pols who are “owned” by each, even that provides some balance while other pols can play the sides against each other.
So, let me put it another way. People will only bother trying to buy government if it’s worth buying government. That means they’ll only try to buy a government that interferes in who can make money.
For example, that fracking. What is being argued over in that specific piece is: can we export fracked gas? If we can, who can?
So, there will be some group of politically favoured people who will get licences to export fracked gas. Others who will not. Buying politicians in order to get one of those licences is a rational business decision (however morally vile).
How do we stop people buying politicians in order to get a gas export licence? Don’t have politicians controlling a system of gas export licences.
The issue regarding natural gas fracturing is far more than who will get the license to export that gas. That may be some part of the issue, but the more immediate issue is whether or not there will be a mechanism in place to assure that the frackers don’t end up fucking up the environment (the ground water in particular) while they’re fracking the shale formations below. You see the gas has to come out of the ground before it can be sent any where. So the extraction process precedes the license to export issue. Frackers being able to frack while they freak water supply at the same time is what good government is supposed to controll. So government is going to play some part in the process. Eliminate the licensing issue and you’re still left with all issues that money can buy.
I hate to keep beating up on you, but what the hell do you think “politics” is about?
i can help Jack out here. simple minded.
politics is ALL about power. and that means all about money. if you don’t think the people who live where the pipeline is going should have a right to have anything to say about it, you have just made a political decision. one that would go down well in the ancien regime, but we thought we had progressed beyond that point.
the problem we are having is that the checks and balances have fallen on hard times, so your side, believe it or not, gets things mostly its way. but keeps whining about it just to keep the poor stupid masses off balance.
we could do like Tim Worstall suggests, and limit politicians to judging beauty contests and deciding when to celebrate national holidays. if there is anything in the country where money is at stake, just let the people with the money decide it among themselves. that always works.
Don’t have to go that far. We could, to continue this thing about gas exports, simply say “If you meet these rules you can export. If you don’t you cannot”.
The rules would be pretty simple too. Don’t kill anyone for example. Don’t pollute the environment. And that’s it. A simple rule based system.
However, what we’re actually getting is a system whereby politicians get to decide who exactly does get a licence and who does not. That will obviously lead to corruption as a licence is valuable and people will be willing to pay the politicians to get one.
Think of it this way. We’ve a general rule against murder. One set by hte politicians. But we do not allow the politicians tyo interfere and say, well, this particular case is murder and this particular case, well, he made campaign contributions to me therefore it isn’t.
I’m suggesting that business and econoic decisions should be as with murder, general and rules based, not politically decided in each case.
Tim, what is this bullshit with regarding gas export licensing? I’m talking about government setting limits and regulations having to do with health and safety within industrial settings. You’re throwing up a straw to the argument. Even as we speak (of type as the case may be) industry is attempting to buy their best government representation. This AM in the NY Times:
Just a sample of tha article: “But it is Mr. Rehberg who has been the most ardent advocate, presenting a case study in how a lawmaker can help build his national profile — and campaign war chest — by championing an industry with deep pockets and political clout.”
Not that Rehberg’s competition, Senator Jon Tester, a first-term Democrat, hasn’t been an industry supporter. Rather Rehberg has been a more vocal obstructionist regarding mining safety issues. Hang the safety and health of miners and Montana citizens in general. Safe mining may add a cost to the process. There are plenty of miners to shovel down the pits.
still a little naive. politics is about power. and that means games are going to be played, and trades are going to be made. and when it comes down to it Ford will be allowed to murder hundreds. a poor shmuck with no friends in congress will get the chair.
nothing at all wrong with trying to hold the politicians to some ideas of “rules we need” and limit the graft to ordinary “favors.” but when the graft is systemic and affects the welfare of the whole nation… well, we have a problem. not one that can be solved by saying “keep the government out of business.” in fact, that IS the problem.
“keep the government out of business.”
Just in case it isn’t clear enough, the whole purpose of having a government is to assure its citizens of equitable behavior between them and the organizations they form. It’s like they tell criminals, you don’t have to worry about laws if you’re law abiding.