$189 billion in profits to buy elections, but none for jobs

America’s corporations, awash with a record $189 billion in profits earned in the last business quarter, are spending their money not to create jobs, but to buy the midterm election next month.

Reports published in the press Oct. 4 show there has been a 600 percent increase in corporate election spending over the amount spent in the midterms four years ago, and, in recent weeks, money is pouring into the campaigns of conservatives. Republicans have swamped the Democratic competition by more than seven to one in corporate money.

The report in today’s Washington Post is particularly disturbing because they show that much of the spend-fest to elect right-wingers is being conducted in the shadows, something made possible by the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision earlier this year that the sky is the limit when it comes to how much business can spend to buy an election.

Meanwhile, an analysis by the Wall Street Journal found that companies in the Standard and Poors 500-stock index posted record second-quarter profits of $189 billion, up 39 percent from last year and the sixth-highest quarterly profit total in U.S. history.

As unemployment rates remain high and as workers and small businesses are denied loans, corporations, the New York Times reported Sunday, are shamelessly adding to their profit-generated cash piles by borrowing vast sums at almost 0 percent interest. Companies like Microsoft add additional billions to their cash profits by issuing bonds at almost 0 percent interest.
Virtually none of the unprecedented amounts of cash the companies are sitting on is being spent on new factories, equipment or jobs.

The money is flowing, however, into right-wing election campaigns.

Since the Supreme Court lifted limits and loosened disclosure laws for corporations they can, in addition to making direct contributions, fund outfits like the little known “American Future Fund” in Iowa, which has spent  $7 million on behalf of Republicans.

The group has spent $800,000 to unseat just one Democrat, Rep. Bruce Braley of Waterloo, Iowa, and launched its campaign against him with TV commercials all over Iowa saying “Braley supports building a mosque at Ground Zero.” Braley had tried to avoid being baited on that issue, saying it was a “zoning matter” that should be decided in New York.

Efforts by shadowy groups like the American Future Fund seem to be part of a larger coordinated strategy because they allow companies to contribute anonymously in some cases and directly in other races. This gives the GOP enormous flexibility in how to campaign in one location, as opposed to another. The right-wing election effort can operate via attack ads in one location, through the tea party in another and through the official Republican candidate in still another.

“We can’t  match this spending dollar for dollar,” said Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, when he visited a union phone bank in Chicago last week, “but we will match it and win by putting boots on the ground. A mobilized and engaged movement operating across the country is the power that can prevent millionaires and billionaires from buying the election.”

While 175,000 union members and their allies marched for jobs in Washington D.C. on Oct. 2 thousands of union members knocked on doors in a get-out-the vote drive over the weekend.

In Ohio, union canvassers combed Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton and Columbus explaining to other union members how the fight for jobs is connected to voting for the Democrat Ted Strickland for governor and Lee Fisher for the U.S. Senate.

In addition to filling 28 buses to the Washington demonstration, the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO held a Day of Door-Knocking Action with hundreds of union members participating.

In Kentucky, where tea party candidate Rand Paul called this weekend for raising the retirement age and extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich, unions also mounted a door-to-door effort they say reached thousands of voters.

In California, union members did mass distributions of a new leaflet warning voters about the Wall/Street corporate agenda of GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman and U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina.

As Election Day gets closer there are signs that the boots-on-the ground strategy may be able to overcome the GOP cash advantage.

The latest Los Angeles Times/Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll of the California Senate race, for example, shows Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer with a strong lead over Republican nominee Carly Fiorina. Boxer has 51 percent to 43 percent for Fiorina.
Photo: One Nation Working Together (Teresa Albano/PW)


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.