Thursday, June 29, 2017

Signs of quid pro quo: The right-wing donor class mob is pissed! They want their tax cuts, and they want them now!

"We know now that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob."

--President Franklin Roosevelt, October 31, 1936, Address at Madison Square Garden 

 Above: "Mob," a lithograph by W. Leroy Flint (1909-1991), created while he was in the WPA's Federal Art Project, ca. 1936-1938. This artwork reminds me of today's right-wing donor class - a group that is soulless, angry, and drunk on the teachings of Ayn Rand. Photo courtesy of the General Services Administration and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

It was recently reported that some wealthy right-wing donors are threatening to withhold campaign contributions unless congressional Republicans scale back health care for the poor (thereby giving tax cuts to the rich) and pass "tax reform" (i.e., tax cuts for the rich). (See, e.g., "GOP donors threaten to withhold funds unless their agenda is passed," Salon, June 26, 2017, and "GOP donors close checkbooks, frustrated with lack of progress on taxes, health care," Fox Business, June 26, 2017.)

Many on the political right, including Supreme Court justices, tell us that large political donations are a form of speech, and not quid pro quo expectations that particular laws will be passed or repealed. This claim is, of course, ridiculous (as we see, for example, in the stories above), but it keeps the cash flowing in and provides lots of well-paying jobs for politicians, political operatives, and judges. It's a sinister and circular system, where politicians provide tax breaks, judges provide favorable rulings, and the rich reward them with a cut of the money they've kept through such legislation and kangaroo court "justice." And the bought-and-paid-for politicians & judges use that money to start a new round of favoritism for the rich... and round and round it goes. (Note: Some judges are appointed, and some go through elections; but they're all beneficiaries of political donations from millionaires & billionaires, in one way or another.)   

Let's be frank: Millionaires & billionaires give large political donations because they want big tax cuts; because they want to pollute with impunity; because they want to charge enormous amounts of money for medicine; because they want a criminal justice system that gives them preferential treatment; and because they don't want to work for a living - they like the current rigged system, where they can lead lazy & luxurious lives by moving investment money around, by passing their fortunes down from generation to generation, and by keeping middle and low-income groups in perpetual debt. And they've been very successful at purchasing all of the above.

To put it another way, millionaire & billionaire donors pay politicians to legislate in a way that maintains and solidifies the American caste system. Super-wealthy donors want us under their thumbs, just as the wealthy southern landowners of the 1800s wanted slaves under theirs. Further, they want our children to be subjugated to their children in the future. That's the nature of a caste system, and that's why they want the estate tax repealed, while lower-income Americans get mired in debt, stagnant wages, and pitiful retirements. It keeps them in a position of unearned power, while the rest of us work harder and harder - not to get ahead, but simply to slow our descent. 

Only when we realize that the super-rich are not our friends, and only when we demand public financing for high political office, will we free ourselves from the disastrous policies that are causing us to be stressed, depressed, and suicidal. The right-wing donor class mob, especially, must be brought to heel, if we have any hope of improving our quality of life.

"We need to revive the traditional understanding of corruption, overturn Citizens United and continue the long American fight for freedom from powerful interests."

--Zephyr Teachout, Professor of Law, Fordham University, in "How the Supreme Court gets corruption totally wrong," Washington Post, May 5, 2016

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