The ABCs of Big Money in Politics

The reason we’re focused on getting big money out of politics is because when corporations, unions, and ultra-wealthy individuals have too much influence in government, it prevents progress on nearly every important issue. Don’t believe us? Learn the ABCs of how a different issue for every letter of the alphabet is impacted by big money in politics. Then sign up to volunteer or make a donation to help us support the Restore Democracy Amendment and fix our broken campaign finance system!

A is for Agribusiness

Just 10 agribusiness corporations have allocated 35 million dollars for political campaigns. As a result, these corporations are given subsidies that allow them to bypass regulation and suppress smaller farms. These subsidies cost American taxpayers $20 billion a year.

B is for Big Banks

Big banks contributed a combined $2 billion to political activities from 2015-2016 in order to undo regulation bills like Dodd-Frank passed after the financial crisis. If these efforts pass in Congress, big banks would receive huge benefits and exemptions.

C is for Coal Lobby

The coal lobby spent nearly $6 million in the 2016 election cycle to support Republican candidates; their ultimate goal: stop regulations limiting the CO2 emissions that cause climate change.

C is for Contract Labor

Huge U.S. corporations rely on cheap labor from prisoners to pad their profits. To increase their bottom line, those same corporations spend millions lobbying for harsher prison sentences to increase their labor supply.

D is for Democracy

From 1974 to 2010, total campaign spending rose 2,237%. On average, 90% of the better funded candidates are reelected, and corporations who support them benefit from favorable legislation.

E is for Education

For-profit universities spent $5.6 million in 2017 lobbying for looser regulations in order to increase profit. The average six-year graduation rate for these schools is 23%.

F is for Financial Institutions

From 2000 to 2007 four financial institutions spent $20 million to support political candidates. In return, they received $180 billion in Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) funds during the same time period.

G is for Gun Violence

The National Rifle Association spent over $54 million in the 2016 election cycle to prevent Congress from enacting restrictions on gun ownership that a majority of Republicans and Democrats support.

H is for Health Care

In 2017, big pharmaceutical companies spent $279 million to influence elections in order to gain a $30 billion profit. 44 million Americans cannot afford basic health care insurance.

I is for Immigration

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been mandated to jail about 34,000 immigrants daily. This costs taxpayers $2 billion annually while the Corrections Corporate of American and Geo Group Inc. have made $752 million from federal contracts to imprison those immigrants.

J is for Judicial Confirmation

In 2016, dark money groups spent $35 million to keep Merrick Garland out of the Supreme Court and install Neil Gorsuch. The Koch brothers and other dark groups like the Judicial Crisis Network are expected to spend millions more in connection with upcoming confirmations.

K is for Koch Industries

The Koch brothers plan to nearly double their contributions and spend $400 million on political campaigns in the 2018 election cycle, in order to support policies like tax cuts that will continue to benefit them.

L is for Lobbyists

Lobby groups work to shape legislation to benefit their corporate clients and they are very good at their job. Studies have shown that corporations get up to a 22,000% return on the money they spend lobbying.

M is for Military Spending

Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing spent a combined $10 million in the 2016 election cycle. In 2017, the defense budget was increased by $2.2 billion.

N is for Net Neutrality

8 out of 10 Americans support net neutrality. However, after 18 telecom companies spent $110 million in 2017 lobbying the FCC in opposition to net neutrality, the FCC voted to repeal it in 2018.

O is for Opioid Crisis

Pharmaceutical groups like the Paincare Forum spent over $740 million lobbying in the past decade against limits on opioid prescriptions. 115 people die daily in the U.S. from opioid overdose.

P is for Private Prisons

Since 1989, private prison corporations have spent over $35 million on lobbying and supporting Republican campaigns. Since then, the number of prisoners in private prisons has increased 1,600%.

Q is for Quid Pro Quo

Quid pro quo, or giving favor or advantage to receive benefits in return remains common in the U.S. government with the very wealthy. For example, the Koch brothers donated $500,000 to Paul Ryan after he passed the 2017 Republican tax bill that would give Koch Industries and other corporations huge tax breaks.

R is for Renewable Energy

In 2015, oil corporations coordinated to spend $11 million to prevent California from passing SB350, which would decrease petroleum usage by 50% by 2030. They succeeded and the bill did not pass.

S is for Student Loan Debt

Student loan providers like College Loan Corp, NelNet Inc., and Navient Corp, have made hundreds of thousands in campaign contributions and spend millions lobbying elected officials to oppose loan forgiveness and lower interest rates. As of 2018, American students have $1.4 trillion in total student loan debt.

T is for Tax Reform

65% of Americans believe that corporations should pay more in taxes. However, after corporations spent nearly $151 million lobbying in the second quarter of 2017 for tax cuts, the Republican tax plan passed in the House, slashing corporate tax rates from 35% to 20%.

U is for Union Influence

Although there are only 14.8 million union members in the U.S., unions donated over $132 million to super PACs and federal election campaigns in 2016.

V is for Voter Suppression

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has raised over $21 million in the past three years from some of the world’s biggest corporations. Much of that money is used to make it more difficult for Americans to vote.

W is for Wars

Defense companies like Raytheon lobby for arms deals in times of war. In March, the State Department approved a $670 million arms deal with Saudi Arabia in order to help them fight the war in Yemen. While groups like the UN point to violations of human rights, defense corporations profit from war and increased military spending.

X is for Exxon Mobil

From 2017-2018, Exxon Mobil spent $14 million in lobbying—most of that money going towards supporting tax cut bills. After 2017’s “tax reform,” Exxon quintupled their fourth-quarter profit, raking in over $8 billion.

Y is for Yearly Spending

Yearly spending by lobby groups increased from $1.45 billion in 1998 to $3.7 billion in 2017. During the same time period real median household income increased by just 3.2 percent.

Z is for Zero

There are zero current members of Congress who have not taken money from a lobbying group in 2018 so far.

 

 

Sources:

A: https://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Newsroom/2015/08_31_2015.php

B: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-banks-lobbying/banks-spent-record-amounts-on-lobbying-in-recent-election-idUSKBN16F26P

C: https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-prison-industry-in-the-united-states-big-business-or-a-new-form-of-slavery/8289, https://www.opensecrets.org/industries/background.php?cycle=2018&ind=E1210

D: http://www.99rise.org/crisis

E: https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=40, https://www.opensecrets.org/industries/lobbying.php?cycle=2018&ind=H5300

F: https://www.followthemoney.org/research/institute-reports/give-to-get-financial-institutions-that-made-hefty-campaign-contributions-score-big-bucks-from-the-government/

G: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41488081, https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000000082&cycle=2016

H: http://www.pbs.org/healthcarecrisis/uninsured.html, https://www.healthcare-now.org/blog/big-pharma-wins-big-with-health-care-reform-bill/

I: http://immigrationadvocacy.net/2014/05/11/immigration-detention-big-money-for-for-profit-prisons/

J: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/06/the-dark-money-campaign-to-replace-anthony-kennedy-has-already-begun.html, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/who-is-paying-for-the-next-supreme-court-justice/2018/07/15/8894e4d8-8538-11e8-8553-a3ce89036c78_story.html?utm_term=.398984d3525b

K: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/01/28/koch-network-to-spend-300-million-to-400-million-on-politics-policy-in-2018-cycle/?utm_term=.b8f8f1b63437, http://time.com/5121930/koch-brothers-fall-elections/

L: https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2009/06/lobbying-is-a-lucrative-invest/

M: https://www.opensecrets.org/industries/contrib.php?ind=D&Bkdn=DemRep&cycle=2016, https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/652687/department-of-defense-dod-releases-fiscal-year-2017-presidents-budget-proposal/

N: https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2017/12/money-flows-into-net-neutrality-debate-ahead-of-fcc-vote/

O: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/19/big-pharma-money-lobbying-us-opioid-crisis

P: https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/04/28/how-for-profit-prisons-have-become-the-biggest-lobby-no-one-is-talking-about/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.8cfee43e3b31, https://represent.us/action/private-prisons-1/, https://www.opensecrets.org/industries./indus.php?ind=G7000

Q: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/koch-paysout-to-ryan-after-taxlaw_us_5a63ce41e4b0dc592a09697c, https://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/05/04/404052618/beyond-quid-pro-quo-what-counts-as-political-corruption

R: http://priceofoil.org/thepriceofoil/clean-energy/

S: https://studentloanhero.com/student-loan-debt-statistics/, https://www.opensecrets.org/industries./indus.php?ind=F1410

T: https://thinkprogress.org/tax-reform-lobbying-big-business-wins-1deb8594acf7/

U: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/labor-union-election-2016_us_58223b92e4b0e80b02cd7259

V: https://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/us/alec-a-tax-exempt-group-mixes-legislators-and-lobbyists.html

W: https://www.opensecrets.org/industries./contrib.php?ind=D, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/22/us/politics/us-arms-sales-saudi-arabia-.html

X: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2018/02/02/exxon-mobil-profit-trump-tax-cut/300076002/, https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000000129id=D000000129id=D000000129id=D000000129

Y: https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/index.php

Z: https://www.opensecrets.org/industries/summary.php?ind=K02&cycle=2018&recipdetail=S&mem=Y