General Question

Ron_C's avatar

I notice that everyone, including myself, believes that Congress is owned and operated by large corporations. Where is the real proof?

Asked by Ron_C (14288 points ) September 26th, 2010

I was looking through lists of contributors to candidates and people already in government. What strikes me is the small amounts listed compared to the overall cost of the campaign. I see Louisiana candidates getting 1–5 thousand dollars for oil corporations. The biggest donation I can remember is $1.2 million to Obama from the University of California. I wonder two things, first considering the relatively small amounts would a candidate go out of their way to favor the university or corporation and secondly, how can a state funded university justify contributing to any political campaign.

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27 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Oh, I have just the article.

Illuminat3d's avatar

The proof is in the lobbying

Pandora's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Interesting article. I’m not sure about unions actually working for the working class. Some unions have a pretty dirty past themselves.

john65pennington's avatar

Check out the big American factories just south of the border.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t think that Congress is owned by corporations. I believe that some of the unethical individuals are, but not Congress as a whole.

laureth's avatar

Here’s where to find some figures on how much the lobbying efforts put into their pockets.
http://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/index.php

For example, here’s the page to see AT&T’s lobbying costs and targets:
http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/totals.php?cycle=2010&id=D000000076

More places to look:
http://www.opensecrets.org/news/disclosure.php

Ron_C's avatar

Oh @Simone_De_Beauvoir how depressing. I have always hated corporate lobbyists, now I know why. Since the Supreme court violated the constitution and made corporations people, I expect it will bet worse.

The main thing that I learned in asking this question is: “don’t ask questions because someone may tell you the real truth. We really need term limits, and a government paid elections. The current system is doomed to fail.

Too bad that the Tea Party is limiting themselves to right wing crazy candidates. The have a really good idea about going outside the system but their follow through leave much to be desired.

Ron_C's avatar

Thanks, @laureth I am a frequent visitor to open secrets. Too bad that they seem to limit themselves to the big national candidates. I want to find information about Glenn Thompson, our 25th district rep. Much of he rhetoric does not match his public record.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Ron_C Well, we don’t call ‘em United States of Corporations for nothing.

Ron_C's avatar

@laureth yes, but it is pretty skecthy. That and is voting record seem much abridged compared to what he says in his news letters and public statements. With luck, he will be gone in the next election.

perspicacious's avatar

You may speak for yourself, but not for “everyone.”

Flavio's avatar

there is a good opinion piece about this in harpers this month.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Also, think about it…if “all” of congress was “owned” by huge corporations the health care reform would have never gotten as far as it did. The mega-insurance companies stand to lose a lot of money—beginning now.

Ron_C's avatar

@Dutchess_III Huge corporations are self-centered, callous, anti-labor, and greedy, they aren’t stupid. Congress and the president took the biggest money looser for corporations off the table before discussions even began. 65% or more of the population is in favor of a single payer system and the people that know how to bring this about were barred from participating.

Instead we were thrown a 2000 page bone meant to protect health insurance and drug companies.

All of the Republicans and a good number of democrats are fighting to keep the taxes down for the richest 2% while proposals are now in congress to pay off the national debt on the backs of Social Security, Medicare, and labor unions. They are fighting to keep the occupation and building contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan while maintaining huge no bid military contracts and supporting mercenary armies in those countries.

Just because ordinary citizens were thrown a bone, don’t take that as a vindication of huge international corporations.

As for the mega-insurance companies losing money, don’t bet on it. They are already ramping up premiums. Besides, why should insurance companies make any money?

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Ron_C I understand. My only point was a caution against stereotyping and over- generalization. Congress, as an entity, is not owned by corporations, but some individuals within Congress are.

BTW….do have a reliable link to your claim that 65% of Americans want the single payer system? If you have it, I would LOVE to forward that on to all the Obama bashing people who send me their crap!

Ron_C's avatar

@Dutchess_III I tried to find the links to the survey but was unsuccessful now. I saw several concerning the current plan. I have to do a better search when I get more time. From what I remember, about 30% liked the current reform plan, 20$ hated it and the rest didn’t think that the current plan didn’t go far enough.

You are right about stereotyping. I should probably have said that almost 100% of the Republicans and all of the “blue dog” democrats have been bought and paid for by large international corporations and law firms.

Dutchess_III's avatar

LOL! Ok! Stereotyping about the Republicans is OK!!

Well…I just got done posting in this Fluther question “I honestly think that Hilary would have gotten no closer to Universal Health Care than her wick-dipping husband did. (No, Obama is not the first President to wish for this. He’s just the first to have gotten this far, as meagre as it is at the moment.)” No, it isn’t enough, but that’s all the Republicans would allow us at this time, and it’s more than we’ve had in the past. It’s a start.

laureth's avatar

@Dutchess_IIIThis might help. So might this, even though it’s older.

Also, this story aired today on NPR, and it made me remember this question today so I could come back and post it here.

mattbrowne's avatar

Owning and strongly influencing isn’t exactly the same.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@laureth Nice links. Thanks! Yes…I feel that any candidate who’s dumb enough to stand on a platform of repealing the insurance reform (That would be Mike Pompeo in this state) is…dumb. Now that it’s here, it’s basically like he’s saying, “Nope! We need to go back and allow insurance providers to deny coverage for minors with pre-existing conditions! We need to go back and allow insurance providers to cancel coverage on people who get ‘too expensive.’ ” Nobody would vote for that!!

Ron_C's avatar

@mattbrowne In this country I guess it would be called “rent to own”. The way I understand it from the answers here, they pay relatively small “donations” to campaigns under the assumption that a good performing congressman will be rewarded by high paying jobs when and if they loose an election.

@laureth “Nobody would vote for that!!” unfortunately you are wrong. Don’t you listen to the Tea Party and Republican propaganda.

Joybird's avatar

Influence isn’t purchased to get into office…it’s purchased after someone is IN office. And it’s never as direct as to create an obvious paper trail. It’s all about favors. It can be about perks associated with PAC’s and lobbyists. It can be about jobs offered for after one leaves office or for votes being swung in ways that serve special interests for all manner of exchanges. It’s very hard to maintain your integrity on capital hill despite appearances to the contrary.

Ron_C's avatar

@Joybird I notice that most of the new candidates, especially from the right are bought and paid for well before election time. The only way we can save democracy in the U.S. it to publicly fund campaigns and outlaw corporate funding of candidates. I would prohibit lobbying activity and congressional contact witrh lobbyists while congress is in session.

We saw the last election bought and paid for by large and sometimes international corporations. There is no way democracy can continue as long as this practice remains. Unfortunately the people that benefit by the current system also make the laws that protect it. I would say that in 20 years this country will not be recognizable as a democratic republic. Instead it may become as dangerous and the German Republic under Hitler.

Joybird's avatar

I don’t necessarily think ending lobbying is part of the answer but how it’s done should be very heavily regulated. It should consist of a meeting on capital hill in chambers to pitch your position not unlike is done in any other place of business. But it shouldn’t include trips, and parties etc. If there is no lobbying done than you end up with total reliance on a politician reading every page of big stacks of arguements for changes in legislation and the passing of new legislation. Think of how many times in our walking lives we override that by showing up in person to make our pitch.

Nullo's avatar

As it happens, I don’t think that Congress is owned and operated by large corporations. Rather, I think that Congressmen are slaves to themselves; I’l concede that this does not preclude accepting money for their puppet strings.
Barring Mister-Smith-Goes-To-Washington types, a politician’s primary goal is to obtain and retain office.

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