Category Archives: Lobbyist

Tax Subsidies — A Total of 56% Go To Just 4 Industries

Darrel Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, along with his fellow Republicans have been pushing for an investigation into the now bankrupt Solyndra, a solar company that received approximately $500 million in subsidies from the Obama administration. They are saying this has resulted in huge losses for the tax payer. This may turn out not to be true.  

CNN Money reported that during the bankruptcy hearing it was revealed the company had $859 million in assets and $749 million in liabilities at the start of 2011, and as a result there are some in Washington that believe we can actually recoup a big chunk of its cash. 

“The federal government owns the assets of borrowers that default and can manage or sell them,” Mark Muro, policy director at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, wrote in an article earlier this week. “It’s conceivable that taxpayers will not lose any money.”  

I think we should be looking at the other industries receiving subsidies from our government. This is something Republicans really don’t want to do as they are some of their biggest contributors. They have been resistant since tax reform has become the main topic in our political debates on ending these subsidies as they consider these to be a form of tax hikes (thanks to the Grover Norquist tax pledge). In all fairness though, Democrats also receive contributions from the very same industries, but they have been very focal at ending these subsidies. 

Citizens for Tax Justice has analyzed corporate tax rates from 2008 to 2010. They have examined over half of the Fortune 500 companies and it should be to no ones surprise that the richest industries are the ones that get the biggest subsidies. They found that 56 percent of the total tax subsidies went to just four industries: Financial, utilities, tele-communications, and oil, gas & pipelines.   

So I ask you, who are the biggest crooks in this system.

The Hill’s List of Top Wealthiest in Congress for 2011

The Hill, a publication that covers politics in D.C., has come out with its annual list of the 50 top wealthiest members of congress. I have listed the top 10 below, and the entire list can be found at TheHill.com

I am a Democrat, a Liberal, and for me it is disturbing that the only people who have a chance to run a successful campaign are the extraordinarily wealthy and this includes both parties. As you will see, the top 10 is dominated by my party, and although I do think the Democratic Party is the party who works for the interests of the middle class, with all this money floating around D.C., just how hard will they fight for us versus further enriching themselves.  

In saying that, the Republicans of today don’t even make an effort to hide their agenda, and that is to enrich their constituents who fund their campaigns, the mega wealthy, by giving them further tax cuts while raising the taxes of the middle and lower classes.  

They are still entrenched in the belief of “trickle down economics.” Give all of America’s wealth to the top-tier of our society and they will in turn rain it down on the serfs, the peasants of our country, us. 

The Hill’s Findings 

Analysis for The Hill’s Wealthiest shows that 2010 was a banner year for many well-heeled members of Congress.  

Last year’s wave election brought big changes to The Hill’s rankings. More than a dozen lawmakers appear on the list for the first time, including 10 Tea Party-backed GOP freshmen with backgrounds in business, medicine and auto sales, among other professions. 

The richest GOP freshman is Rep. Jim Renacci (Ohio), who reported a minimum net worth of $35.9 million, ranking him 11th on The Hill’s list.  GOP gains in the 2010 elections helped shift the list toward Republicans. Six Democrats who made The Hill’s 50 Wealthiest in 2010 lost their reelection bids.  

The rankings include 32 Republicans and 18 Democrats. By chamber, the breakdown is 29 from the House, 21 from the Senate. To compile the rankings, The Hill reviewed all the congressional financial disclosure reports that lawmakers filed for the 2010 calendar year. 

Top 10 Wealthiest Lawmakers   

1. Michael McCaul, R-Texas — $287 million  
McCaul’s wealth exploded in 2010, making him the richest member of Congress by tens of millions of dollars. 

2. Darrell Issa, R-California — $220.4 million  
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman has always been one of the richest members of Congress, but his wealth shot up in 2010 by almost $60 million. 

3. John Kerry, D-Mass — $193.3 million  
Kerry no longer holds the crown of richest member of Congress, but he still was able to increase his wealth by nearly $5 million in 2010. 

4. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.VA — $81.6 million  
The West Virginia senator’s wealth fell by more than $2 million this year, down from $83.7 million in 2009, due to some of his assets losing value.  

5. Mark Warner, D-VA — $76.3 million   
Warner’s fortune climbed by more than $6 million in 2010. 

6. Jared Polis, D-Colo — $65.9 milion  
Polis’s fortune grew by almost $10 million in 2010. 

7. Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ — $55.1 million  
Lautenberg saw a more than $5 million boost in his fortune in 2010. 

8. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn — $54.9 million  
Blumenthal’s minimum net worth is $54.9 million, making him the wealthiest new member of Congress this year. 

9. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA — $45.4 million  
Feinstein’s minimum net worth decreased slightly, by more than $600,000, in 2010. 

10. Vern Buchanan, R-FL — $44.4 million  
Buchanan saw his wealth slide in 2010 by roughly $9 million.

GOP Policies Obliterating the Middle Class

I have been listening to GOP representatives and pundits proclaiming that taxing the wealthy who they refer to as so-called job creators would be bad for the economy.  These “job creators” have had the lowest tax rates in centuries, and over the last decade, we are still waiting for those millions of jobs they are supposed to create.  In fact, it has created such a gap in wealth between them and the middle class that it rivals the decade prior to the Great Depression. 

I came across a ThinkProgress article that articulates this point and brings into light how much income the middle and lower classes have lost and how the wealth in America is now concentrated into just 1% of our society. 

It may shock you exactly how wealthy this top 1 percent of Americans is. ThinkProgress has assembled five facts about this class of super-rich Americans: 

1. The Top 1 Percent Of Americans Owns 40 Percent Of The Nation’s Wealth: As Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz points out, the richest 1 percent of Americans now own 40 percent of the nation’s wealth. Sociologist William Domhoff illustrates this wealth disparity using 2007 figures where the top 1 percent owned 42 percent of the country’s financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one’s home). How much does the bottom 80 percent own? Only 7 percent:

As Stiglitz notes, this disparity is much worse than it was in the past, as just 25 years ago the top 1 percent owned 33 percent of national wealth. 

2. The Top 1 Percent Of Americans Take Home 24 Percent Of National Income: While the richest 1 percent of Americans take home almost a quarter of national income today, in 1976 they took home just 9 percent — meaning their share of the national income pool has nearly tripled in roughly three decades.

3. The Top 1 Percent Of Americans Own Half Of The Country’s Stocks, Bonds, And Mutual Funds: The Institute for Policy Studies illustrates this massive disparity in financial investment ownership, noting that the bottom 50 percent of Americans own only .5 percent of these investments:

4. The Top 1 Percent Of Americans Have Only 5 Percent Of The Nation’s Personal Debt:  Using 2007 figures, sociologist William Domhoff points out that the top 1 percent have 5 percent of the nation’s personal debt while the bottom 90 percent have 73 percent of total debt: 

5. The Top 1 Percent Are Taking In More Of The Nation’s Income Than At Any Other Time Since The 1920s: Not only are the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans taking home a tremendous portion of the national income, but their share of this income is greater than at any other time since the Great Depression, as the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities illustrates in this chart using 2007 data: 

As Professor Elizabeth Warren has explained, “there is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody…Part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.” More and more often, that is not occurring, giving the protesters ample reason to take to the streets.

Capitalism Is Code For Corporate Socialism

With all of the pro-capitalism/anti-socialism chatter from the Republicans, it peaked my interest to find out the history of government funded bailouts in our capitalist society.

Below is a list of tax payer funded bailouts since the 1970s. It focuses on government bailouts of U.S. corporations (and one city). It does not include U.S. government aid given to other nations. The costs of the bailouts are given in 2008 U.S. dollars. After you review this, please tell me does capitalism, without oversight and regulations, really work.

Penn Central Railroad — 1970
Cost $3.2 billion

In May 1970, Penn Central Railroad, then on the verge of bankruptcy, appealed to the Federal Reserve for aid on the grounds that it provided crucial national defense transportation services. The Nixon administration and the Federal Reserve supported providing financial assistance to Penn Central, but Congress refused to adopt the measure. Penn Central declared bankruptcy on June 21, 1970, which freed the corporation from its commercial paper obligations. To counteract the devastating ripple effects to the money market, the Federal Reserve Board told commercial banks it would provide the reserves needed to allow them to meet the credit needs of their customers.

Lockheed — 1971
Cost $1.4 billion
In August 1971, Congress passed the Emergency Loan Guarantee Act, which could provide funds to any major business enterprise in crisis. Lockheed was the first recipient. Its failure would have meant significant job loss in California, a loss to the GNP and an impact on national defense.

Franklin National Bank — 1974
Cost $7.8 billion
In the first five months of 1974 the bank lost $63.6 million. The Federal Reserve stepped in with a loan of $1.75 billion.

New York City — 1975
Cost $9.4 billion
During the 1970s, New York City became over-extended and entered a period of financial crisis. In 1975 President Ford signed the New York City Seasonal Financing Act, which released $2.3 billion in loans to the city.

Chrysler — 1980
Cost $4.0 billion
In 1979 Chrysler suffered a loss of $1.1 billion. That year the corporation requested aid from the government. In 1980 the Chrysler Loan Guarantee Act was passed, which provided $1.5 billion in loans to rescue Chrysler from insolvency. In addition, the government’s aid was to be matched by U.S. and foreign banks.

Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company — 1984 
Cost $9.5 billion
Then the nation’s eighth largest bank, Continental Illinois had suffered significant losses after purchasing $1 billion in energy loans from the failed Penn Square Bank of Oklahoma. The FDIC and Federal Reserve devised a plan to rescue the bank that included replacing the bank’s top executives.

Savings & Loan — 1989
Cost $293.3 billion
After the widespread failure of savings and loan institutions, President George H. W. Bush signed and Congress enacted the Financial Institutions Reform Recovery and Enforcement Act in 1989.

Airline Industry — 2001
Cost $18.6 billion
The terrorist attacks of September 11 crippled an already financially troubled industry. To bail out the airlines, President Bush signed into law the Air Transportation Safety and Stabilization Act, which compensated airlines for the mandatory grounding of aircraft after the attacks. The act released $5 billion in compensation and an additional $10 billion in loan guarantees or other federal credit instruments.

Bear Stearns — 2008
Cost $30 billion
JP Morgan Chase and the federal government bailed out Bear Stearns when the financial giant neared collapse. JP Morgan purchased Bear Stearns for $236 million; the Federal Reserve provided a $30 billion credit line to ensure the sale could move forward.

Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac — 2008
Cost $400 billion
On Sep. 7, 2008, Fannie and Freddie were essentially nationalized: placed under the conservatorship of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Under the terms of the rescue, the Treasury has invested billions to cover the companies’ losses. Initially, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson put a ceiling of $100 billion for investments in each company. In February, Tim Geithner raised it to $200 billion. The money was authorized by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.

American International Group (A.I.G.) — 2008
Cost $180 billion
On four separate occasions, the government has offered aid to AIG to keep it from collapsing, rising from an initial $85 billion credit line from the Federal Reserve to a combined $180 billion effort between the Treasury ($70 billion) and Fed ($110 billion). ($40 billion of the Treasury’s commitment is also included in the TARP total.)

Auto Industry — 2008
Cost $25 billion
In late September 2008, Congress approved a more than $630 billion spending bill, which included a measure for $25 billion in loans to the auto industry. These low-interest loans are intended to aid the industry in its push to build more fuel-efficient, environmentally-friendly vehicles. The Detroit 3 — General Motors, Ford and Chrysler — will be the primary beneficiaries.

Troubled Asset Relief Program — 2008
Cost $700 billion
In October 2008, Congress passed the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, which authorized the Treasury Department to spend $700 billion to combat the financial crisis. Treasury has been doling out the money via an alphabet soup of different programs.

Citigroup — 2008 
Cost $280 billion
Citigroup received a $25 billion investment through the TARPin October and another $20 billion in November. (That $45 billion is also included in the TARP total.) Additional aid has come in the form of government guarantees to limit losses from a $301 billion pool of toxic assets. In addition to the Treasury’s $5 billion commitment, the FDIC has committed $10 billion and the Federal Reserve up to about $220 billion.

Bank of America–2009
Cost $142.2 billion
Bank of America has received $45 billion through the TARP, which includes $10 billion originally meant for Merrill Lynch. (That $45 billion is also included in the TARP total.) In addition, the government has made guarantees to limit losses from a $118 billion pool of troubled assets. In addition to the Treasury’s $7.5 billion commitment, the FDIC has committed $2.5 billion and the Federal Reserve up to $87.2 billion.

The Top 20 Lobbying Companies

Clark Merrefield and Lauren Streib of The Daily Beast recently wrote a piece focusing on corporations and their influence in DC. 

To find out Capitol Hill’s coziest companies, The Daily Beast began by looking at the Fortune 100—the biggest, richest companies in America. We then did a simple ranking of the number of lobbyists on each company’s payroll in 2010, and their total lobbying expenditures for 2010, with data from the Center for Responsive Politics.  

1. General Electric
Lobbyists hired: 195
Lobbying expenditures: $39.3 million
Revenues: $150.2 billion

2. Verizon Communications
Lobbyists hired
: 143
Lobbying expenditures: $16.8 million
Revenues: $106.6 billion
3. Boeing
Lobbyists hired: 139
Lobbying expenditures: $17.9 million
Revenues: $64.3 billion
4. Comcast
Lobbyists hired: 109
Lobbying expenditures: $13 million
Revenues: $37.9 billion
5. AT&T
Lobbyists hired: 93
Lobbying expenditures: $15.4 million
Revenues: $124.3 billion
6. Lockheed Martin
Lobbyists hired: 103
Lobbying expenditures: $12.6 million
Revenues: $45.8 billion
7. FedEx
Lobbyists hired: 66
Lobbying expenditures: $25.6 million
Revenues: $34.7 billion
8. Pfizer
Lobbyists hired: 80
Lobbying expenditures: $13.3 million
Revenues: $67.8 billion
9. General Dynamics
Lobbyists hired: 102
Lobbying expenditures: $10.9 million
Revenues: $32.5 billion
10. United Technologies
Lobbyists hired: 68
Lobbying expenditures: $14.5 million
Revenues: $54.3 billion
11. Northrop Grumman
Lobbyists hired: 65
Lobbying expenditures: $15.7 million
Revenues: $34.8 billion
12. General Motors
Lobbyists hired: 76
Lobbying expenditures: $9.6 million
Revenues: $135.4 billion
13. Microsoft
Lobbyists hired: 104
Lobbying expenditures: $6.9 million
Revenues: $62.5 billion
14. Prudential Financial
Lobbyists hired: 69
Lobbying expenditures: $8.8 million
Revenues: $38.4 billion
15. Raytheon
Lobbyists hired: 71
Lobbying expenditures: $7 million
Revenues: $25.2 billion
16. Berkshire Hathaway (Warren Buffett’s company)
Lobbyists hired: 64
Lobbying expenditures: $9.6 million
Revenues: $136.2 billion
17. Walmart
Lobbyists hired: 90
Lobbying expenditures: $6 million
Revenues: $421.8 billion
18. Dow Chemicals
Lobbyists hired: 63
Lobbying expenditures: $8.2 million
Revenues: $53.7 billion
19. Exxon Mobile
Lobbyists hired: 50
Lobbying expenditures: $12.5 million
Revenues: $383.2 billion
20. Johnson & Johnson
Lobbyists hired: 70
Lobbying expenditures: $6.7 million
Revenues: $61.6 billion