J. D. Heyes
Aug 23, 2011
There are 12 lawmakers (six Democrats and six Republicans ) who have been named to the debt reduction “Super Committee” in Congress, tasked with finding an additional $1.2 trillion in spending cuts from the federal budget over the next decade.
Talking heads say their job will be tough because it needs partisanship and rancor. They say it will be tough because each side has its own economic issues to protect such as taxes, entitlements, defense, education, labor.
But the more seasoned politicos among us may say it will be tough because each has a core constituency in which to answer, and it doesn’t include the voters who put them in office. For a panel charged with cutting spending, it seems like they are already bought and paid for, according to Maplight.org, a non-partisan organization that followed the money all the way back to the Super Committee.
According to the group’s analysis, a wealth of special interest groups have already spent tens of millions of dollars contributing to the 12 members of the committee. And the list of contributor’s are lawyers, labor, business, education and healthcare.
You may think the healthcare industry has the deepest pockets, but it’s lawyers and their trade groups that have donated the most – more than $31.5 million in total to the committee members. The next highest group is the securities and investment industry, which pumped more than $11 million to the committee’s esteemed, allegedly impartial membership.
The struggling real estate industry added another $8.7 million; education $8.5 million; “miscellaneous business” interests another $7.9 million. Individual organizations, from Microsoft, Corp., to the University of California to JP Morgan Chase & Co. – also kicked in.
In all, the committee’s members have received $64.6 million over the past decade from a range of special interests who all stand to lose something if the panel actually goes through with cutting the federal budget.
Democrats on the panel – those virtuous champions of the “common man” who espouse “Middle America” and demonize against “Big Business” received, by far, the lion’s share of the donations, totaling $42.7 million, nearly twice as much as the $21.9 million received by Republican members. That said, it’s readily apparent that panel members onbothsides of the political aisle are already compromised.
The political forecast for this panel is heavy gridlock, with scattered promising statements backed by weeks of empty rhetoric. And maybe that was the point.
Created by the recently passed debt ceiling legislation that actually does little to cut overall spending in the first place, the panel has been charged with finding $1.2 trillion in deficit savings by November. If there is gridlock and no agreement is reached, cuts and possible tax increases will become automatic.
So, in order to protect their turf, you can bet that all of these special interests will be potentially issuing more, to keep lawmakers in line and keep their own nests feathered.
Which means that, once again, the American people will become the losers, the big money interests will win, and the political process slips further into the abyss. As Elizabeth MacDonald of Fox News writes, “Let the gridlock begin where it always does, with political donations.”
Do you remember when politicians served the people and not the special interests? Neither do I.
This article was posted: Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 2:57 am