Congress Meets Wall Street: How Big Corporate Campaign Contributors are Buying America…And What the Rest of Us Pay
Some people think it’s more important to give a big campaign contribution than to vote…that it’s “the American way” to buy access and influence with big money…that it’s OK if public policy is sold to the highest bidder. Some even think that the only real democracy is in the marketplace, where we all supposedly vote with our dollars.
Well, we at Public Campaign disagree, and we believe so do a lot of other Americans. Which is why we created the “State of the Union” poster. Because we wanted to use one picture to say what a thousand words couldn’t say about the union of big money and Washington.
Thanks to our current system of privately-financed elections, Congress has become a huge bazaar, where everyone knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. Big corporations and the super-wealthy invest millions in political contributions and get all kinds of special deals in return. For a few millions in donations, they get a $20 billion tax break here, a $10 billion subsidy there-returns on investment that would make honest entrepreneurs blush, but makes Wall Street salivate.
All this adds up to real money, and ordinary Americans like you and me pay the price. With higher deficits, cuts in vital programs, a dirtier environment, more dangerous working conditions, lower wages, greater health insecurity, a diminished future for our children.
It’s time for us to decide: Should public policy be bought and sold like commodities in the stock market? Should a tiny elite, insulated from the everyday needs of average Americans, be able to buy politicians and obtain special treatment? Or should we offer candidates who refuse special-interest donations a source of “clean” public money?
Today, the State of the Union is not sound. But hope is on the horizon. Clean Money, Clean Elections public financing saves taxpayers money, saves public officials from the money chase, saves our democracy. And it’s already passed in Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Vermont, with more states on the way, raising the pressure on Washington for real reform. Which means we can change the state of the union.
Click here to order copies of the poster.
Charts and Graphs
& Insurance Resource
Tax Evaders Credit Card
& Banking Food
& Pesticides Pharmaceuticals/
Health Care Auto
Footnotes and sources to our findings
(Requires Adobe Reader)
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.