Washington, D.C. – Nick Nyhart, the executive director of Public Campaign, issued the following statement commenting on President Bush’s speech last night:

“Just as our new poster ‘State of the Union: Congress Meets Wall Street’ shows, last night President Bush addressed many of his proposals directly to satisfying the needs of big corporate campaign contributors.

There was Social Security silver for the stock market, wealth for the well-off, paybacks for polluters, and manna for managed care:

• The president called for shifting Social Security funds for younger workers into ‘retirement accounts that they will control and they will own.’ This proposal showers silver on Wall Street securities and investment firms, which have given $281.5 million to federal candidates and parties since 1989, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Any privatization of Social Security will produce billions in new commissions for Wall Street, whether the market goes up or down.

• He called for eliminating the stock dividend tax and for speeding up other income tax reductions. The benefits of these proposals will go primarily to the richest Americans, consistently primarily of people who made campaign contributions of $1000 or more, including $1.8 billion since 1999. More than half of the president’s tax cut of $1.35 trillion goes to Americans who make $104,000 or more, while the top 1% will get more tax relief from dropping the dividend tax than the bottom 95% of all Americans. It is no coincidence that the people who paid the piper are calling the tune.

• He called for the passage of Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy plan, which will deliver $33 billion in new tax breaks to resource extracting industries (oil and gas, mining, electric utilities, chemical manufacturers and timber) that have given $318.7 million in campaign contributions since 1989. His ‘Clear Skies” proposal shields utilities from mandatory steps to reduce air pollution, a payback for their $71.5 million in political investments. And his ‘Health Forests Initiative,’ which opens more federal lands to logging, is a gift to the timber industry, contributors of $30.6 million.

• He rejected any kind of universal health care insurance, said nothing about enhancing patients’ rights to suit for proper care, and instead called for billions in new subsidies for private insurers, to help induce seniors to leave Medicare and choose HMOs. These stands are all manna for managed care and health insurance companies, which have given $48.9 million since 1989.”

Click here to view Public Campaign’s “State of the Union” poster.


Methodology: All campaign finance figures are based on Public Campaign analysis of campaign finance data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization which downloads contribution data from the Federal Election Commission monthly and codes contributions by industry. Data include Political Action Committee (PAC) contributions and individual contributions of $200 or more from corporate executives and their families. Data for the 2002 election cycle were downloaded by CRP on October 21, 2002.

Public Campaign is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to sweeping reform that aims to reduce dramatically the influence of special interest money and big contributors on America’s elections. Public Campaign is laying the foundation for reform by working with citizen organizations and other groups around the country that are fighting for comprehensive change. Together, we are building powerful national force for state and federal reform.

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