Magenta Nation – Fakchex


Many Americans worry about the effect of globalism on our country, or the influence of foreign powers and their respective agendas. But there is a danger that is closer to home – the buying of America by donations to political action committees (PACs) and the wealthy patrons behind them.

The amount of money infused into politics has skyrocketed into the billions. The floodgates opened in 2010, with the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. The ruling made it legal for corporations—including entities such as non-profits and labor unions—to spend unlimited amounts of money in support of, or opposition to, political candidates. Along with a few subsequent rulings, the Citizens United decision led to the rise of super PACs, and their outsized influence on American politics. These are a kind of PAC that are allowed to raise unlimited amounts of money from donors, but which cannot coordinate with or contribute directly to specific candidates or parties. The effects were almost immediate:

  • Political spending by America’s wealthiest citizens surged from just $32 million in 2010 to $611 million by 2018—from 1% of contributions to federal campaigns to 10% of contributions.
  • Wealthy people dominate super PAC spending: less than 200 people have funded almost 60% of super PAC spending since 2010. Seventy-eight percent of super PAC giving in the 2018 midterms was funded by the top 100 donors to those PACs.  Some of the biggest funders include Republican megadonors Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers.
  • Corporations are also sizable donors. A number of them contributed nearly $301 million to super PACs from 2012 to 2018; this is almost certainly an underestimation, since corporations can fund associations and groups doing political activities that don’t have to disclose donor identities.

A majority of corporate and big donor donations are directed to Republican candidates and causes: 87% of the $301 million spent was given to conservative groups. Super PACs supporting Republican candidates are also some of the biggest corporate fund recipients.

This trend may not be very surprising. The Republican party is commonly associated with championing “business-friendly” policies including tax cuts, weakened regulations, and broader economic policies that are beneficial for the wealthy and corporations, but have not been found to be helpful for average Americans.

And it’s paying off. These donors are paying less in taxes and influencing lawmakers to pass policies that benefit them:

  • An analysis performed in 2014 found that public policy changes favoring the affluent demographic are roughly 45% more likely to occur, and when they don’t want a policy change its probability of being enacted is around 18%.
  • Wealthy individuals and corporations have experienced tax reductions. Out of eight companies that lobbied the most from 2007 to 2009, seven of them saw their tax rates fall from 2007 to 2010—six experienced declines of 7+ percent, while the average company rate fell by only 0.2%
  • Political spending correlates with politician behavior. Legislators receive financial rewards from oil companies for voting against environmental/climate change legislation.

We like to think that our votes direct our government, and our votes are very important. However, it’s important to understand that other factors besides our votes influence policymakers, and to consider how campaign finance law allows megadonors to sway lawmakers to favor special interests and the wealthy.

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