Friday, November 26, 2004

Bought and Paid For

The Moose notes that the G.O.P will be dishing out an extra helping of leftovers to their friends in corporate America.

Moosketeers will not be surprised by the analysis that Republicans these days are receiving the overwhelming amount of corporate political donations. Yesterday, the Washington Post reported on a political Money Line study that,

About nine out of 10 corporate political action committees gave more money to Republicans than to Democrats, according to a study by PoliticalMoneyLine.

While many corporate PACs in the 1970s and 1980s sought to split campaign contributions between candidates of both parties, the new study found that more than a quarter of the large corporate PACs gave at least $3 to Republican candidates for every $1 to Democrats.

The Moose suggests that the only thing left for the Republicans to do is to sell naming rights for the party to corporate America. For instance, one month it can be called the "Halliburton Republican Party" and the next month it can be known as the "Exon Mobil Republican Party."

What is important in the analysis is the dramatic increase in corporate money trending to the G.O.P over the past several years,

In 1993-94, the last election cycle when Democrats controlled Congress, business PACs gave more to House Democrats, $23.6 million, than to Republicans, $19.9 million, according to the FEC. In every election cycle since then, House Republicans have had a decisive advantage. In 2002, they received $44.6 million, compared with $23.6 million for House Democrats.

On the Senate side, Republicans had an advantage even before the GOP takeover, but that advantage has grown. In 1994, according to the FEC, Senate Republicans got $13 million, compared with $7.8 million for Senate Democrats. In 2002, Senate Republicans received $16.4 million, while Senate Democrats got $7 million.

Of course, this trend can be in part explained by the fact that money flows to power. But, there is more that explains this significant increase and it is explained in the Post piece,

Since then, such House Republicans as Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Tex.), joined by such conservative advocates as Grover Norquist, have sought to accelerate the shift to the GOP through the K Street Project, named for the street where many corporate lobbyists have offices. DeLay and Norquist have tried to track contribution patterns, with the strong suggestion that companies favoring the Republican Party will have better access than those that do not.

It is not a difficult sell for the Republicans to convince corporations to shell out money to their party - they know where their interests lie on a range of issues from tax policy to regulation. We have entered the second Gilded Age. In the past, the labor movement provided a counter-balance to corporate power. However, organized labor is today a shadow of its former self. The consumer movement has only very limited influence in the halls of power. And don't expect the assistance of the federal government - crony capitalism is now running the regulatory agencies. This isn't your father's small government conservatism - we have entered the new age of big government crony corporate conservatism.

The Moose holds no brief for the trial lawyers (no pun intended, maybe). In fact, some tort reform is in order. But, the Rovian Republicans are determined to break the back of the trial bar because it is viewed as one of the remaining pillars of donkey power.

Democracy requires factions checking the power of other factions - and that is why the Moose is concerned about this disparity. The Moose is pro-free enterprise and pro-wealth creation. But at the turn of the last century, the great T.R. also recognized that the over-concentration and influence of great wealth can be unhealthy for a democratic republic.

Just as a century ago, we need a rebirth of a movement that can promote a politics of progressive national greatness. That movement will have to take on a coalition of big government and their allies in big business that will put narrow special interests ahead of the national interest.
-- Posted at 9:45 AM | Link to this post | Email this post