Huffington Post: Super PAC Barrage Coming To House Races Across The Country

October 2, 2012- WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported an investment of $4 million to help 10 Republican congressional candidates in California and Illinois.

The advertisements all begin with a 10-second clip of Darlene Miller, the winner of the Chamber's Small Business of the Year in 2008, explaining that uncertainty over taxes and health care is preventing her from hiring more workers. Then they shift to nearly identical attacks on their intended Democratic targets, criticizing higher taxes, cuts to Medicare, health care reform and high energy costs.

The Chamber ad blitz heralds the beginning of the coming crush of third-party advertising directed at House races. Super PACs, unions, trade associations and non-profits already have spent $39 million since June on general election campaign efforts, ahead of their pace in the previous election. Over the next 30 days, these groups will spend between double and triple that amount just in House races.

Bill Moyers: United States of Alec

Moyers & Company presents "United States of ALEC," a report on the most influential corporate-funded political force most of America has never heard of -- ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. A national consortium of state politicians and powerful corporations, ALEC presents itself as a “nonpartisan public-private partnership”. But behind that mantra lies a vast network of corporate lobbying and political action aimed to increase corporate profits at public expense without public knowledge.

Using interviews, documents, and field reporting, the episode explores ALEC’s self-serving machine at work, acting in a way one Wisconsin politician describes as “a corporate dating service for lonely legislators and corporate special interests.”

Politico: Chamber reserves $280k in Maine Senate race

-By Maggie Haberman

September 17, 2012- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which was up earlier in the cycle in support of Maine Republican Senate hopeful Charlie Summers, has reserved new time starting tomorrow in the state, according to two sources tracking TV air time.

The $280,000 buy goes through Sept. 30.

The NRSC recently plunked down $600,000 in the state, where they're trying to make a show after they adjusted their map in the wake of Todd Akin's controversial comments (national Republicans pulled out of Missouri a short time later when it became clear he wouldn't drop out).

Summers is facing independent Angus King, and Democratic hopeful Cynthia Dill, and hopes to pull the majority vote share over the two.


Bill Moyers: Our Pro-Corporate Supreme Court

Because of partisan gridlock in Washington, the Supreme Court has become the most powerful and outspoken branch of government – decisions they make shape our democracy’s fate for generations to come. Now, one has only to look at Bush v. Gore, Citizens United, and the Affordable Care Act rulings to understand why some call it a “one-percent Court” -- dedicated by majority rule to preserving the power and influence of a minority of wealthy special interests.

The Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel and Jamie Raskin, constitutional law professor and Maryland state senator, join Bill to discuss how the uncontested power of the Supreme Court is changing our elections, our country, and our lives. The two joined forces for a special upcoming issue of The Nation entitled “The One Percent Court.”

Huffington Post: Walmart Warehouse Workers Pilgrimage For 50 Miles Over 6 Days To Protest Working Conditions

-By Kathleen Miles

September 14, 2012- In Southern California, warehouse workers who load goods for delivery to Walmart have reached a boiling point. For the first time in their history, they have walked off the job, even though their jobs are not protected by a union.

And they're still walking. The Inland Empire group began on Thursday a six-day, 50-mile march, which they are calling a "pilgrimage," to draw attention to the poor working conditions that they say they can no longer tolerate.

About 30 workers walked out of the large warehouse where they were employed in Mira Loma, Calif., and about half of them have committed to marching the full six days, Elizabeth Brennan, a spokeswoman for Warehouse Workers United, told The Huffington Post. Joining them on the march are workers from other Southern California warehouses who either have days off or have been injured on the job.

The Nation: The US Chamber of Commerce's Multimillion-Dollar Attack Plan

-By Sasha Abramsky

August 29, 2012- “Obamacare will be a nightmare for Florida seniors,” a grim voiceover announces. “Did Bill Nelson consider the consequences when he cast a deciding vote for Obamacare?”

“Tell Jon Tester: the Washington way isn’t the solution,” another intones. “We need less government and lower taxes.”

“Sherrod,” a third asks, referring to Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, “what planet are you on?”

If you live in a state where a competitive race could help tip the balance in the Senate this fall, you’ve almost certainly seen ads like these, laden with menacing theme music, light on the facts and funded by the US Chamber of Commerce. The nation’s largest business lobby is showcasing bold ambitions this year in an effort to build on gains made in the 2010 midterms, when at least $33 million of Chamber advertising helped push the nation dramatically rightward. The group began placing ads in swing districts as early as November 2011. Since then, it has rolled out a campaign aimed at influencing at least fifty House and eight Senate races, and according to Politico it has set a goal of $100 million in spending for this electoral cycle.

Truthout: Shareholders Say No to Citigroup CEO Pay: A Model for Fighting Crony Capitalism

-By Dean Baker

April 23, 2012- Last week, the country saw one of the fruits of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. The bill requires that major corporations offer their shareholders the opportunity to vote on the pay package for their chief executive. The shareholders of Citigroup voted down the $14.9 million pay package for CEO Vikram Pandit by a margin of 55-45 percent.

The vote was nonbinding (a very serious problem), but it was nonetheless a huge slap in the face for Pandit and Citigroup's top management and directors. It is extremely difficult to organize shareholders for this sort of vote. Management controls the flow of information to shareholders in a way that would make incumbent members of Congress green with envy.

When shareholders see a poorly run company, it is far easier for even large investors to just dump their shares rather than try to gain the support needed to change the way the company is managed. That is why this vote was so striking in a huge corporation like Citigroup.

Of course, the law is still tilted so much in management's favor, that even when the shareholders - the actual owners of the company - vote down a pay package, it is still only an advisory vote, which the board and top management is free to ignore. But this vote is still a big step forward.

Truthout: Virgin Galactic's Space Tourism Venture for the 1% Will Warm the Globe for the Rest of Us

-By Salvatore Babones

August 14, 2012- If two words can capture the extraordinary redistribution of wealth from workers to the wealthy over the past forty years, the flagrant shamelessness of contemporary conspicuous consumption, the privatization of what used to be public privileges and the wanton destruction of our atmosphere that is rapidly leading toward the extinction of nearly all non-human life on earth, all covered in a hypocritical pretense of pious environmental virtue ... those two words are Virgin Galactic.

Virgin Galactic, billionaire Richard Branson's space tourism venture, is charging $200,000 a seat for a few minutes of weightlessness and a view from outer space. The firm has so far taken in $70 million in deposits from 536 passengers, according to an August 1 report from Reuters.

Call me old-fashioned, but I personally find it morally offensive that some people can afford to spend $200,000 on a three-minute experience when others can't afford food. Food first, luxury yachts second and $200,000 suborbital flights last. That's my motto.

Think Progress: Senate GOP Provides $1.1 Million Tax Cut To Wealthy Estates While Raising Taxes On 20 Million Working Families

-By Travis Waldron

July 24, 2012- The Senate GOP plan to preserve the Bush tax cuts on incomes above $250,000 already amounts to a budget-busting tax cut for the rich, and in addition to it, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) also added another tax cut that benefits only the super-wealthy. The Hatch-McConnell plan effectively eliminates the estate tax, costing billions in revenue and giving a huge tax cut to the very wealthiest Americans, as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes:

Specifically, the new Senate Republican proposal, which Senators Mitch McConnell and Orrin Hatch unveiled earlier this month, would:

Cost $119 billion more in forgone revenues over the next ten years than the Obama Administration proposal to reinstate the already generous 2009 estate-tax rules. Analysis by the Urban Institute-Brookings Tax Policy Center shows that all of the $119 billion would flow to the heirs of the estates of the wealthiest three of every 1,000 people who die, since those are the only estates that would owe any estate tax under the 2009 rules.

Campaign for America's Future: Romney: Protecting the Rich Is More Important Than Deficit Reduction

-By Bill Scher

July 23, 2012- On CNBC yesterday, Mitt Romney said:

What the president should do is say look, we're going to extend for at least a year the--well, I'd like to see it permanent, but at least a year--the current tax environment. This sequestration related to defense spending, in particular, has to be put off ... whichever president is going to be elected, at least six months or a year to get those policies in place. So let's extend where we are now as opposed to looking at a cliff in January...

Let's remember what this "cliff" is. It's a two-fold bipartisan agreement.

There's the 2010 bipartisan tax cut deal, which, in exchange for additional middle-class tax cuts and jobless aid, extended the Bush tax cuts until the end of 2012.

And the 2011 bipartisan debt limit deal, which, if no deficit reduction agreement is struck, imposes automatic spending cuts, particularly on the military budget, at the end of the 2012.


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