- Politics and Social Issues
Who Lobbies for the Taxpayers?
Who Lobbies for the Taxpayers?
I don't pretend to know economics or politics. Frankly, it seems that things have been complicated in such a way that no one person can possibly understand how the economy or politics work, regardless of the level of ones’ education. Sure, some understand larger or smaller parts of the “big picture”, but who understands all of it?
As I understand it it works like this: millions of us wake up each day and go to work, we perform a task and then we are compensated for it with money. Each one of us “gives up” some of that money as taxes to pay for things that we all need and use – roads, schools, hospitals, libraries, swimming pools, parks, public transportation, social assistance, military, etc. We pay taxes on the food, properties, electronic goods, and everything else we purchase. Some of us pay more and some of us pay less in taxes, and that number depends on few things but mainly people who are considered to be in the middle class pay the most in taxes, people who are considered to be in the upper class or the 1% pay the least amount in taxes.
Now, who is in charge of all that money that we “willingly give up”? This is where the politics comes in. The politicians, people “elected” by us the tax payers. They meet and talk about in what and how much they should invest. They write policies, pass laws, fight with each other and with us about where all that money should go.
Here is the problem with trusting our politicians to be on our side. It costs a lot of money to run for a public office. A lot of money. Money needed for many different things like getting their message out to the possible voters, polling, paying for someone to organize the campaign, a lot of committees, chairs, volunteer coordinators, schedulers, travel, parties, not to mention buttons, signs, letters, it's an endless amount of stuff.
According to an article in New York Times, president Obama raised and spent a record-breaking $750 million in his 2008 campaign Shear (2011). That's $750 million dollars! So how do they raise the money? If you read the Wikipedia page on campaign finance in the US, you will find that there are “federal contribution limits” and there is a nice little table showing how much and who can contribute. There are a few types of contributors like the “connected PACs, nonconnected PACs, super PACs etc., again I'll refer you to the Campaign finance in the United States (2016, May 13) page. The interesting contributors are the 527 organizations and the lobbyists.
Organizations 527 are tax-exempt (named for Section 527 of the US Internal Revenue Code) and almost “all political committees (state, local, or federal) are considered 527, Campaign finance in the United States. (2016, May 13). This is how politicians get around the federal contribution limits. 527 organizations are not under “state of federal campaign regulations because they do not “expressly advocate” for the election or defeat of a candidate or party. When operated within the law, there are no upper limits on contributions to 527s and no restrictions on who may contribute. There are no spending limits imposed on these organizations.” Campaign finance in the United States. (2016, May 13). It is very confusing but if you read it carefully, you will find the loophole, and why and how our politicians are able to raise those millions of dollars for their campaigns through “bundling”.
Let’s move on to the lobbyists since they are at the center of this confusion. The definition of lobbyist “a person who tries to influence legislation on behalf of a special interest” lobbyist. (n.d.). Lobbyists from my understanding are people who are paid by corporations or other groups to go to Washington DC and try to influence lawmakers to pass laws that benefit those corporations or groups and watch for any laws that will not be beneficial. Lobbyists also “assist” politicians during their campaigns by becoming campaign treasurers, fundraisers, and help with “bundling” of the campaign contributors.
An example of how influential lobbyists are is a controversial Medicare prescription drug bill extending limited prescription drugs coverage. According to article on CBS News, the bill was written by pharmaceutical lobbyists, it was over 1,000 pages long, and members of the House had it for less than 24 hours before they had to vote on it. “They voted on it at 3 AM., when it couldn't be televised during prime-time” Singer (2007).
From 1998-2008 lobbyists for the financial sector including mega corporations like Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase.“donated” $1.738 billion, working around the contribution limits so that their donations were indirect and therefore not covered by the reporting rules Weissman, Donahue (2009).
As a taxpayer or a home owner you are aware of the housing market crash in 2006. Many of us lost our jobs, homes basically everything we’ve worked for our entire lives. How did that happen? Short version? Deregulation of banking thanks to lobbyists allowed for risky products like adjustable-rate, subprime, interest-only mortgages, and companies that rated high investments that were at best questionable at worst a complete lie Causes of the United States housing bubble. (2016, March 31). By the end of it all banks were bankrupt, and many of us lost our retirements and homes, basically our lives.
So what did our politicians do to “help”? They have taken our tax money to bail out the same banks that knowingly and through their own doing brought our economy to a complete collapse. All those brilliant corporations divided the $700 billion of our tax money as fast as possible all the while giving themselves insanely huge bonuses. Our politicians thought wise to give to those who were betting against our economy all along. See the list of who and how much they received from us Erickson, He, Schoenfeld (n.d.). Speaking of the bailouts, if our tax money went to bail them out shouldn't we the taxpayers own those corporations now? Then again, maybe not.
Why would the government trust people who clearly are in the business of lining their own pockets, with obscene amounts of money? I'll tell you exactly why. They did not have a choice. All along laws were written and passed protecting those corporations. All along our politicians owed them “back scratching”, after all they did take and spend the money donated by their lobbyists.
Our Constitution begins with "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." Constitution of the United States. (1787). Those are beautiful ideas, and we should be very proud and at the same time sad that at one point in our history they almost came true.
I think today it should read more like “We the Corporations of the United States, in Order to make more money, establish and release groups of lobbyists to buy politicians, write and pass laws, and completely disregard the People. We will ensure that the People live in fear, and indebted to Us for the rest of their tax-paying years.”
Again I ask, who lobbies for the taxpayers? I know it is not the politicians because if they had our best interest at heart, and were truly there to represent us and our needs they would invest in us. In our education, medical care, infrastructure, care for our elders, our businesses, our jobs, and our lives. Instead we are living in fear of loosing our jobs, getting sick, getting older, having children, buying a house, and questioning the sanity of our politicians.
It is not only our right to question their motives it is our duty to do that. The United States Bill of Rights gives us the right to complain and ask for things to be fixed. If you're not familiar with the Bill of Rights, I urge you to read it United States Bill of Rights (2016, April 24). We have allowed ourselves to be dumbed-down, complacent, and distracted by things that do not matter, and have no direct influence on our lives.
We didn’t do our job either because instead of demanding answers and action from you, our politicians, we were too busy “Keeping up with the Kardashians”, and watching “Dancing With The Stars”. We trusted you to lobby for us.
I ask you, our politicians remove lobbyists from Washington DC. Let them no longer influence our laws and our lives, let the laws be influenced by our needs by our interests and to our benefit. The corporations and their lobbyists are your puppet masters and that makes you their puppets. How about regaining some control? Let’s remove the puppet masters and be masters of our own lives.
I think that you as a politician should not be able to represent anyone if you have been bought and owe favors that will create a conflict of interest. You can not and will not vote on tougher regulations for the financial or pharmaceutical sectors if you owe your election to the office to their contributions. You will not investigate, regulate, or even slap their hand if they behave badly. You will jump as high as they will allow you to jump. You will do exactly what they want you to do. You are their puppet.
If by any chance a politician is reading this, please answer my questions. Who is lobbying for the taxpayer? Do you not think that you owe us an explanation? How could you allow corporations to destroy our manufacturing sector by exporting our jobs overseas and the financial sector to ruin our economy? If we have no jobs you have no one to pay taxes that you're so eager to give away to complete criminals.
How could you allow corporations to avoid paying taxes and did nothing to bring them to justice? How could you allow insurance companies put a price on our lives? How could you allow for our education to fall apart? Are you hoping that stupid, uneducated masses are easier to control and fool? Remember, eventually even stupid, uneducated people reach their limit and revolt.
Why couldn’t you bail out us, taxpayers. You’ve treated us like beggars with our hands out for your money. We don’t avoid paying taxes, we don’t have offshore bank accounts, we don’t have groups of expensive lawyers fighting for us. That was your job, you the politician, you were supposed to represent us. Did you forget your job description?
Why is it so easy for you to spend ridiculous amounts of money on negative campaigns, when all we want to know is the real plan for our future? I think more people would be inclined to vote for you if they knew that you will do something, not talk about something that won't be done by someone else. Why is there no honesty in our government, no transparency, no integrity, no honor, not as much as a bit of compassion? Finally, how could you let things get so complicated that even you can not understand what is going on?
People of the United States are hard-working, proud, compassionate, and responsible for the most part. What is dividing us is you. Your inability to realize that all we want is to just live, get an education, be able to afford medical care, take care of our families, and our environment. We are not expecting to get something for nothing, we are more than willing to and do work for everything we have but that did not matter, because in the end we were left holding the piss bucket while corporations and you did all the pissing.
It is “We the People” not “I the politician” or “I the corporation”. You work for us not the other way around, you are accountable to us the tax-payers not tax-evaders. It is our money that you carelessly give to people I wouldn't let manage a lemonade stand.
Sure you can complain about how much you have to do, there is too much reading, the bills are huge, you don't have the time but are you not the one that can say “I need more time Mr. Corporation”. Who the heck is running the show? Will you people ever get along long enough to do your job, do what you promise during your speeches?
We are still waiting for something that will spark our confidence and pride in you, in our country, in what we are getting up for in the morning. For now all we are left with is deception, bankruptcy, ignorance, and the aftermath of your mistakes.
Shear, Michael D. (2011). How Much Does It Cost to Run for President? (2011, March 26). In The Caucus, The Politics and Government blog of The New York Times. Retrieved 14:39, May 25, 2016, from http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/26/how-much-does-it-cost-to-run-for-president/
lobbyist. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved May 25, 2016 from Dictionary.com website http://www.dictionary.com/browse/lobbyist
Singer, Michelle. (2007). Under the Influence. (2007, March 29). In 60 Minutes, Steve Kroft Reports On Drug Lobbyists’ Role in Passing Bill That Keeps Drug Prices High. Retrieved 15:16, May 25, 2016, from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/under-the-influence/
Campaign finance in the United States. (2016, May 13). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21:53, May 25, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Campaign_finance_in_the_United_States&oldid=719988081
Weissman, Robert and Donahue, James (2009). Sold Out, How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America. (March 2009). In Wall Street Watch. Retrieved 15:29, May 25, 2016 from http://wallstreetwatch.org/reports/part2.pdf
Erickson, Matthew, He, Elaine, and Schoenfeld, Amy (n.d.). Tracking the $700 Billion Bailout. In The New York Times, Business Section. Retrieved 15:34, May 25, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/national/200904_CREDITCRISIS/recipients.html
Constitution of the United States. (1787). In United States Senate. Retrieved 15:40, May 25, 2016, from http://www.senate.gov/civics/constitution_item/constitution.htm
United States Bill of Rights. (2016, April 24). Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 22:42, May 25, 2016 from https://simple.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=United_States_Bill_of_Rights&oldid=5379756.
Causes of the United States housing bubble. (2016, March 31). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 00:51, May 26, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Causes_of_the_United_States_housing_bubble&oldid=712805047