220.127.116.11 Paying Politicians to Grant Financial Concessions
The tactic of paying politicians to grant financial concessions is an effective way to make the rich richer at the expense of other people.
Political parties with access to more funds can spend more on advertising, and thereby win votes and power – so they woo the donors. That calls into question what the donors receive in return:
● Halliburton made substantial political donations to the Republican Party during the election campaign and presidency of George W. Bush (and Dick Cheney, Bush’s Vice President during this period, had previously been the CEO of Halliburton). The company benefited enormously from federal contracts, as described in an earlier edition of this book:
“The single fastest-growing federal contractor between 2000 and 2005 was Halliburton. In 2000, Halliburton was the 20th largest federal contractor, receiving $763 million in federal contracts. By 2005, Halliburton had grown to become the 6th largest federal contractor, receiving nearly $6 billion in federal contracts.”
● BMW, having made a large donation to Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Party in Germany, benefited in the same week from regulations that granted “exceptional rights for luxury cars” according to the OECD report referred to earlier (para. 59).
● As described in an article entitled In the halls of shame, the American lobbying industry has burgeoned in recent years. The health industry was identified as the second-largest donor group (after the finance sector).
● One of the most blatant examples of kickbacks is Congress’s response to intensive lobbying by repeatedly legislating to allow large corporations to hide profits overseas and thereby reduce their tax bills, as described earlier (18.104.22.168).
● An Economist article on Joe Biden’s ‘Build Back Better Bill’ noted that The Democrats’ fiscal policy makes a mockery of their progressive pledges, as Democrat Representatives responded to the concerns of wealthy donors by voting for “a last-minute addition to the bill that would spend hundreds of billions of dollars subsidising the richest residents of New York and California”.
These examples illustrate how wealthy individuals and corporations are paying politicians to grant financial concessions. There is no evidence of illegality in any of these examples, but businesses normally only spend money for shareholders’ benefit – so the rich become richer.
Both American political parties are equally complicit in their dependence on campaign financing, via Political Action Committees (PACs) and ‘Super PACs’ which make large donations to both parties’ candidates in Congressional elections – as revealed by OpenSecrets.org. A donor seeking a financial concession might not care whether a politician is a Republican or Democrat: the politicians need the campaign funding so they vote according to the donor’s wishes, ignoring the wishes of the people they are supposed to represent.
There are strong arguments for reform – not least public anger about sleaze, as described in the next sub-section (22.214.171.124).
This page is intended to form part of Edition 4 of the Patterns of Power series of books. An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition04/6452a.htm.