Corporations outspend taxpayers in Congress...

You may be surprised to learn that we spend about $2 billion dollars a year on our dysfunctional Congress. However, it's even more surprising to learn that corporate lobbyists spend even more to buy off our federal lawmakers.

According to a recent article by Ezra Klein over at, corporations outspend US taxpayers by more than half of a billion dollars. Yet, some people actually wonder why Congress is so beholden to their corporate masters.

The money we pay as taxpayers funds lawmakers' salaries, their staff, and the Congressional Budget Office and Congressional Research Service, which are the two agencies responsible for educating our lawmakers about an issue.

When corporations want Congress to vote in their favor, they do much more than just contribute to a lawmaker's next election. Lobbyists also use that stockpile of corporate cash to conduct their own research on issues, and use those industry-funded studies to convince members of Congress to vote in the corporation's best interest.

Although Congress has agencies to conduct research, there's no way that the CBO or CRS can compete with billion-dollar industries.

To make matters worse, Congress members don't only have to resist the corporate money – they often have to resist their former colleagues or staffers. These corporate lobbying firms scoop up every retired lawmakers or well-connected staffer they can get their hands on, and they pay more than the taxpayers ever could.

For the first time in our history, getting elected to Congress is more about the lobbying job of the future than it is about governing our country. It's time to end the revolving door between Congress and lobbying firms, and to get the corporate influence out of our nation's capital.

Let's keep up the fight to get money out and take our democracy back.


liz banker 8 years 5 weeks ago

Which Corporate Lobbying group will the now retired US Atty General Eric Holder sign up with.... and how long will it take Mr. Holder to find that corporate firm?

Ellen Brown ran for State of California Treasurer in 2014, under The Green Party platform (and lost). She explains her objections to the Trans-Pscific Partnership in a recemt Huffington Posting:

"The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government." -- Article IV, Section 4, US Constitution"

She highlights the financial impact, if the Agreement goes through (open/close quotes):

"Public Citizen observes that the TPP would provide big banks with a backdoor means of watering down efforts to re-regulate Wall Street, after deregulation triggered the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression:

The TPP would forbid countries from banning particularly risky financial products, such as the toxic derivatives that led to the $183 billion government bailout of AIG. It would prohibit policies to prevent banks from becoming "too big to fail," and threaten the use of "firewalls" to prevent banks that keep our savings accounts from taking hedge-fund-style bets.

The TPP would also restrict capital controls, an essential policy tool to counter destabilizing flows of speculative money. . . . And the deal would prohibit taxes on Wall Street speculation, such as the proposed Robin Hood Tax that would generate billions of dollars' worth of revenue for social, health, or environmental causes."

winterglas's picture
winterglas 8 years 5 weeks ago

I think all candidates for public office should have the same fixed amount to spend on a campaign..let their stand on the issues be the deciding factor.

Willie W's picture
Willie W 8 years 5 weeks ago

Double dipping. Sounds illegal. They collect a salary from we the people but spend most of their time working for big business.

Kend's picture
Kend 8 years 5 weeks ago

Winter, bang on, then maybe voters will pay more attention to the candidates. Also here in Canada they can only campaign for a short fixed time about three months. They have to get to the issues fast which creates less crap.

SHFabian's picture
SHFabian 8 years 5 weeks ago

I was first old enough to understand this "urgent issue" back when I was in school, in the 1960s. As a topic of discussion, it certainly has staying power. Regardless of any progress that was made, in virtually any area, the US began racing backwards in the 1980s, and hasn't stopped regressing.

That said, I don't see the logic of the right wing pouring excessive amounts of money into 2016. It's not exactly a secret that the masses of people who voted for Obama in hopes that he could launch a legit discussion about our poverty crisis have been utterly alienated over the past 6+ years. To pour salt into the wound, our lib media chose, on our behalf, to disappear VP Joe Biden, running Hillary Clinton instead -- pro-war, anti-poor, pro-corporate empowerment, anti-New Deal Clinton. In short, Republicans have already won 2016, making it unnecessary to dump truckloads of cash into the elctions.

SHFabian's picture
SHFabian 8 years 5 weeks ago

What happens when the only two viable parties already decided on the TPP? Apparently, this generation of liberals supports the TPP anyway, since they want to push VP Joe Biden out, running Hillary Clinton again. Clinton was busy promoting the TPP before launching her pre-campaign speaking tour, and the media marketed to libs went into overdrive to sell her. (She even has her own network now -- MSNBClinton.) Strange, strange era. Regardless, the Democrats already lost 2016, since Dems can't win with the votes of middle class Dems alone.

Loren Bliss's picture
Loren Bliss 8 years 5 weeks ago

Damn fine job of reporting, Mr. Hartmann, particularly in your lucid explanation of the (capitalist- nullified) function of the Congressional Research Office, a pivotal detail deliberately buried in the mainstream-media miasma and therefore lost to the vast majority of present-day U.S. voters.

Once again we see why the only cure for the cancer of capitalism is its total elimination. It has already subjugated the United States, destroying forever the potential of what (despite its flaws) was nevertheless the most promising nation on this planet.

And now capitalism is literally threatening the survival of our entire species.

As I have said before, either we eliminate capitalism, or it eliminates us.

Meanwhile imagine what sort of a nation and world we would have had if the money the capitalists spend to control and reward their political vassals were instead spent to benefit us, We the People of Planet Earth.

Sunshine Susie's picture
Sunshine Susie 8 years 5 weeks ago

I recently acquired Lupus and my life is surrounded by pain. I work 3 jobs and barely made $12K last year. I owe the IRS (for the first time in my life) $2500.

Now I read this article and I wonder if we can't start a national movement of withholding ALL taxes. I believe this is the only way we can peacefully, silently, and potently make our voices heard.

Here we are, slaving away at low-paying jobs (I make less than I did in 1982), and watching our gov't run wild for others.

Isn't "Taxation Without Representation" one of our founding nation's fight for freedom?

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 8 years 4 weeks ago

sunshine susie -- If you withhold all taxes, the billionaires would be glad to take over.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 8 years 4 weeks ago

SHFabian -- All labor unions are against the TPP. Card check would cure this problem.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 4 weeks ago

Sunshine Susie, your post made me want to cry. I'm sorry to hear you are in pain, enduring all that hardship in your life, while having to work so hard for so little. No one deserves that. In a country this wealthy, no one should have to endure it.

You hit a bull's eye mentioning the matter of taxation without representation. That's exactly what we're getting. As I mailed our check to the IRS two weeks ago, that thought was foremost on my mind. Taxation without representation. Yeah. We have strayed so far from the founding principles America claims to have stood for, I can't even recognize this country anymore. It's not the country I grew up in. Perhaps that country never existed... Ya think?

RichardofJeffersonCity's picture
RichardofJeffer... 8 years 4 weeks ago

Thom needs a new lines "It's time to ... (add complaint)" is starting to become passe. Getting a little tired, but I still love ya baby.

lugalbanda's picture
lugalbanda 8 years 4 weeks ago

40 years ago we had a cancer on our Government: Big money, now the cancer is our Government. I have watched several Presidents hair turn white and have seen the strained look on their faces as they are put in positions of having to say and do things which they probably would rather not. I think we should change the name of our Government to the Sockappellas (an acapella group from Pitch Perfect). It appears that all we are electing in reality is the face on the Sock Puppet.

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