The Lessons of the Super Committee: Corruption rules dysfunctional Government
It would not be difficult for the so-called “Super Committee” to achieve the requirement of at least $1.2 trillion in savings over the next decade. … But, in many ways, the super committee is “occupied” by corporate interests and cannot act for the people. The make-up of the committee and the tens of millions of dollars members have received from entrenched corporate interests ensure that the committee will exemplify the corruption in Congress – which is why people are occupying public spaces across the country.
The Occupation of Washington, DC at Freedom Plaza expects the commission’s recommendations, if they are able to make recommendations, to reflect the interests of their donors. We urge the public and the media to review their recommendations with these political donations in mind.
The twelve Members of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction have received $41 million from the financial sector during their time in Congress, according to a report by Public Campaign and National People’s Action, “Wall Street and the Supercommittee: The $41 Million Question.” At least 27 current or former aides for the “super committee” members have lobbied on behalf of financial firms.
The 12 members of the super committee have received at least $41 million from the finance, insurance, and real estate (FIRE) sector during their time in Congress.
They have received nearly $900,000 from three of the top U.S. banks — JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo.
Since 2000, the industry has spent over $4 billion lobbying elected officials. Nearly 30 former aides to the 12 members work as lobbyists for financial industry interests.
The ten biggest contributors to the Super Committee members include:
Club for Growth $990,066
Microsoft Corp. $810,100
University of California $629,495
Goldman Sachs $592,684
EMILY’s List $586,835
Citigroup Inc. $561,081
JPMorgan Chase & Co. $494,316
Bank of America $349,566
Skadden, Arps, et al. $347,356
General Electric $340,935
The largest donor, the Club for Growth, opposes any new taxes on the wealthiest in the United States. As a result, despite the abhorrent wealth divide, the committee is unlikely to recommend the obvious, fair taxes on the wealthiest people who fund their campaigns.
The members of the committee received more than $3 million total during the past five years in donations from political committees with ties to weapons contractors, health care providers and labor unions. They received more than $1 million overall in contributions from the health care industry and at least $700,000 from weapons companies. This presents a problem for the super committee because if they fail to find $1.2 trillion in savings over the next decade it will result to mandatory cuts that will impact health care and weapons makers. This means the committee is likely to make a bad deal for the United States, in order to avoid cuts to their major donors.
Throughout the time when the committee has been meeting they have been holding fundraisers across the country. This open money-taking while making decisions that affect those who are giving money is the kind of open corruption that has led to a loss of faith in government.
It is not only donations that will impact the committee, but a major lobbying onslaught by 400 groups who report lobbying the Super Committee. About 30% of these organizations — 118 groups in total – were from the health sector. The finance insurance and real estate sector ranked third, with 40 companies within that sector reporting lobbying activity during the third quarter that targeted the super committee. And 39 groups in the energy sector reported lobbying the super committee. Both the communications and electronics sector and the general business sector saw 26 companies and organizations explicitly mention the super committee in their third-quarter lobbying reports. These are many of the same concentrated corporate interests that have funded the campaigns of super committee members.
[Excerpted from a "Occupy Washington DC" communication sent to the twelve members of the Congressional Super Committee]