Corporate America, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is spending huge sums of money on this fall’s elections, giving fresh meaning to Will Roger’s quip that “We have the best Congress money can buy.”
The Chamber of Commerce alone has pledged to raise and spend $75 million in this election cycle to elect Republican big business advocates.
The Associated Press writes “That’s on top of a lobbying effort that already has cost the organization nearly $190 million since Barack Obama became president in January 2009.”
The capitalist lobby has been aggressively campaigning against health care, finance and labor law reform, losing in the first two instances with the jury still being out on pending labor law, Employee Free Choice Act.
The AP contends the new financial muscle of the Chamber of Commerce gives it the status of a third political party.
The surge in corporate spending comes in the wake of the body blow recently struck by the Supreme Court to free and fair elections in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case. The court in a split decision granted unlimited spending in election contests.
President Obama vocally criticized the ruling both in the State of the Union and most recently in last Saturday’s weekly address. The president said, “They can buy millions of dollars worth of TV ads – and worst of all, they don’t even have to reveal who is actually paying for them.”
He continued, “A group can hide behind a phony name like ‘Citizens for a Better Future,’ even if a more accurate name would be ‘Corporations for Weaker Oversight.'”
Over 80 percent of the American people disagree with the Supreme Court ruling, which allows not only unlimited spending, but also allows corporate board of directors to lobby employees in support of their preferred candidates. Mother Jones magazine reports, “They’ll be able to tell employees exactly, and in detail, which politicians their bosses favor-in effect, campaigning directly in the workplace.”
Mother Jones points to the Business Industry Political Action Committee composed of corporations ranging from “Lockheed Martin to the American Petroleum Institute and the Financial Services Roundtable” as one of the most active beneficiaries of the new rules.
Awash in cash new players, are being set in motion by GOP business and political operatives, like Karl Rove, who was instrumental in setting up Crossroads GPS and American Crossroads, which have been actively buying ads in key House and Senate races.
“Crossroads GPS, which has a brother 527 arm known as American Crossroads, … announced last week that it was launching nearly $1 million worth of ads in the Colorado and Ohio Senate races and spending $2 million in the Nevada and Missouri Senate races,” according to reports. All told, the two groups had raised more than $17 million as of mid-August.
The new flow of corporate cash apparently has not gone to the Republican National Committee, which is showing anemic funding raising compared to its Democratic counterparts. “The Democratic Party reported $10.8 million in the bank and $3.5 million in debts; Republicans showed $5.3 million in the banks and $2.2 million in debts,” says the Washington Post. Some analysts say this is due to GOP insiders growing dislike for RNC Chairman Michael Steele.
The situation however is more complex than appears at first glance. “The National Republican Congressional Committee raised $8.5 million to help House candidates, surpassing the $6.2 million raised by its Democratic counterpart. But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee showed $35.8 million in the bank compared to $22 million for the NRCC,” reports ABC.
In an attempt to counter these efforts, the AFL-CIO has pledged to raise $53 million to support candidates favoring working-class families.