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This is a diary that many of us, alas, will not like to hear, and many will simply not want to believe. Nevertheless, it is the cold hard reality. It demonstrates, through the listing of actual corporate contributions over a period of 20 years, that the Dems are owned by the corporations -- including such biggies as the defense industries, the media, the car manufacturers, and Wall Street -- every bit as much as the Repugs are, and even more at many times.

All of the campaign contribution information comes from http://www.opensecrets.org which is the website of the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit nonpartisan group which tracks campaign contributions through the FEC and breaks them down by party, by year, and by industry. (I highly highly highly encourage everyone to spend a few hours poking around that site--it will show you many many things that you absolutely will not like.)

Intro

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Recently, the progressive Congressman Anthony Weiner had a long fundraising diary based on his remarks in Congress that the Repug Party is a "wholly-owned subsidiary of the insurance industry". His remarks produced a lot of cheering and blue-pennant-waving at DKos, but, alas, they are only half-correct. When I responded to several commenters that the Democratic Party is also a wholly-owned subsidiary of Corporate America and that indeed the insurance companies, Wall Street, the car manufacturers and the defense industry are all giving more money to Dems than to Repugs, a number of people immediately replied that they were "skeptical" of those "claims", and several accused me of flat-out making it all up for some nefarious reason. This diary is my response. After all, the assertion that "Dems are getting more money from this or that corporate industry than Repugs do" is not a matter of opinion or of speculation or of political agenda or of ideology. Either the figures for Dem contributions are higher than those for Repugs, or they are not.  Period. I therefore present the actual figures.

Many people here, of course, will simply not believe that the corporados are ruthlessly nonpartisan and own Dem asses just as much as they own Repug asses, simply because they don't want to believe it. I know that an awful lot of us would feel lots better inside if we could pretend that the big bad corporations are always behind the evil Repugs, while we poor but brave Dems valiantly fight them alone with our army of small donors.  But alas, reality says otherwise.  And reality always wins. One thing I noticed from 20 years of creationist-fighting, however, is that ideologues of all sorts are only "skeptical" about things they don't want to believe anyway.  Sadly, I've also noticed they tend still not to believe even if you show them the plain proof in black and white.  Ideologues, it seems, whether from the Left or from the Right, are determined to believe what they want to believe, period. So those blue-pennant-wavers who simply don't want to believe that their party is anything less than pure, will simply choose not to believe anything I show here. Alas for them, reality is a stubborn thing, and it doesn't go away just because we don't like it. (shrug)

For the rest of us, I want to show, using actual campaign contribution figures, not only THAT the Dems are also wholly-owned corporate subsidiaries, but, more importantly, when, where and why the corporados own them. I want to explode all the myths that many of us still hold about the relationship of the Dem party and the Corporations. If we progressives want to gain things like health care reform, labor law reform, or campaign finance reform, we must understand why the Dems are so reluctant to actually pass them or to give them any teeth--and much of that, sadly, comes from where the Dems get their money. Deep Throat's advice--"follow the money"--is still the best political advice ever given.

The first misconception that needs to be corrected is that "the Repugs get the most corporate money, and the Dems only get a small piece of the action". This is demonstrably untrue. And that myth tends to ride along with another one, that "the most politically-important industries such as defense contractors, telecoms, car manufacturers, health care, pharmaceuticals and Wall Street, all tend to be solidly Republican". This is demonstrably untrue as well.

First, let's explode the myth that key industries like defense, telecom, media, health care, pharma and Wall Street, are solidly Republican. The best example to begin with is health care, partly because it impacts directly on the current HCR debate, and also partly because so many DKosers want to believe that the Repug opposition to HCR comes from the "fact" that, as Rep Weiner declared, the Repugs are a "wholly-owned subsidiary" of the health care and insurance industry. The actual campaign contribution figures, alas, demonstrate that this is simply not true: it is the Dems, not the Repugs, who are currently owned by the health care and insurance industry.

Let's begin with the biggie, the 2008 Presidential campaign (all figures include PACS, individuals, 527s, and soft money contributions):

Health Services/HMO's:

Contributions to:
Barack Obama   $1,4235,501
John McCain   $427,228

Pharmaceuticals:

Barack Obama  $2,124,560
John McCain  $665,422

Now let's look at the figures for all races, for the years 2009-2010:
Contributions from Health Professionals:
Donations to Dems  $13,827,356
Percentage of total to Dems  55%
Donations to Repugs  $11,116,261
Percentage of total to Repugs 45%

HMO contributions:

Total     $$3,792,002
Percent to Dems   66
Percent to Repugs   33

Now let's look at Insurance:

Donations to Dems   $7,265,653
Percentage of total to Dems   52%
Donations to Repugs   $6,515,832
Percentage of total to Repugs   47%

Then let's look at Pharmaceuticals:

Donations to Dems   $5,064,428
Percentage of total to Dems   57%
Donations to Repugs   $3,746,465
Percentage of total to Repugs   42%

And now figures for just Congressional races, 2009-2010:
Number 2 is Health Professionals:

Total contributions: 15,370,571
Percentage to Dems 62%
Percentage to Repugs  37%

Number 6 is Insurance

Total contributions $9,864,471
Percentage to Dems 57%
Percentage to Repugs 43%

Number 10 is Pharma/Health Products

Total contributions $6,405,127
Percentage to Dems 61%
Percentage to Repugs 39%

The myth is simply wrong--the health care and insurance industry is not a Republican sidekick---the vast majority of its support, by a wide margin, is going to the Democrats. So Rep Weiner was half-right--one party is indeed a subsidiary of the health insurance companies. It happens to be his party, though. The domination of the Dem party by health care companies may, alas, have something to do with the fact that the Dems took a health care proposal that was supported by 70% of the population (public option), introduced it to a government that they control totally, and turned it into a massive mandated giveaway to the health insurance industry.

Now, let's demolish the myth that "all the major industries, such as defense contractors, Wall Street, car manufacturers, and telecoms, are solidly and consistently Republican".  The actual campaign contributions for the 2009-2010 election cycle (as before, these figures include PACS, 527's, individual contributions and soft money contributions) show otherwise:

Defense industries:

Total contributions   $8,777,667
Percentage to Dems   57
Percentage to Repugs   42

Defense Aerospace:

Total contributions   $3,858,141
Percentage to Dems   58
Percentage to Repugs   41

Defense Electronics:

Total contributions   $2,895,255
Percentage to Dems   56
Percentage to Repugs   44

Auto manufacturers:
Total contributions   $302,668
Percentage to Dems   63
Percentage to Repugs   37
Telecoms:
Total contributions   $3,498,621
Percentage to Dems   55
Percentage to Repugs   45
Wall Street:

Securities and Investment companies:
Total contributions   $30,193,682
Percentage to Dems   63
Percentage to Repugs   36

Venture Capital companies:
Total contributions   $3,214,175
Percentage to Dems   73
Percentage to Repugs   23

Mortgage bankers:
Total contributions   $895,870
Percentage to Dems   54
Percentage to Repugs   46

Hedge Funds:
Total contributions   $2,940,746
Percentage to Dems   61
Percentage to Repugs   39

Oil and Gas:
Total contributions   $9,449,321
Percentage to Dems   32
Percentage to Repugs   67
The popular myth, particularly among Dem activists, seems to be that the oil company pattern is typical for nearly all major industries.  As the actual figures show, it is not. The oil industry is, in fact, an interesting anomaly, one of just a tiny handful of industries who consistently give the Repug Party the majority of its support year after year after year--the others being the chemical manufacturing industry (but NOT the pharmaceutical industry), the agribusiness industry (including the tobacco industry), the mining/forestry industry, and the national business organizations. The overwhelming majority of corporations do not follow that pattern.

And that brings up another myth that too many Democratic activists want to believe--the idea that "most of the major corporate industries year after year support the Repugs and oppose the Dems".  It simply is not true. When you examine the actual contributions from previous elections, an interesting pattern emerges; the vast majority of corporate industries give a significant amount of money to both parties in every election, but they vary which party gets more of their support, and hop effortlessly from supporting one party in one election to supporting the other party in another election, and then back again. And that pattern of changing contributor support from one party to the other tracks almost perfectly with a very crucial factor---the party which holds power, whichever one it happens to be, gets more contributions from nearly all the corporate industries (as noted earlier, there are a handful of large donators which do not follow that trend but support the same party consistently year after year--the oil, chemical and agribusiness on the Republican side, the labor unions, the motion picture industry and the newspaper/publishing industry on the Dem side). The corporations, the data shows, are opportunistic and ruthlessly nonpartisan--they simply give cash to both sides, and vary the lion's share from one election to the next according to who is in power (and who therefore is in the best position to give the corporados whatever they want). Campaign contributions for 1994 (when the Dems were in power), 2004 (when the Repugs were in power) and 2010 (when the Dems are again in power) show, across a wide range of industries, a very tight correlation between "party in power" and "party that receives more support"--almost invariably, each party receives more when it is in power, and less when it is not:

Industry: Aerospace Defense
1994 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   59
Percentage to Repugs   41

2004 Elections (Repugs in power):
Percentage to Dems   39
Percentage to Repugs   60

2010 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   59
Percentage to Repugs   41

Industry: Airlines
1994 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   63
Percentage to Repugs   37

2004 Elections (Repugs in power):
Percentage to Dems   38
Percentage to Repugs   61

2010 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   59
Percentage to Repugs   41

Industry: Auto Manufacturers
1994 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   47
Percentage to Repugs   53

2004 Elections (Repugs in power):
Percentage to Dems   35
Percentage to Repugs   65

2010 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   63
Percentage to Repugs   37

Industry: Mortgage Banks
1994 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   64
Percentage to Repugs   36

2004 Elections (Repugs in power):
Percentage to Dems   35
Percentage to Repugs   65

2010 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   54
Percentage to Repugs   46

Industry: Cruise Lines and Cruise Ships
1994 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   64
Percentage to Repugs   36

2004 Elections (Repugs in power):
Percentage to Dems   49
Percentage to Repugs   51

2010 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   85
Percentage to Repugs   15

Industry: Defense Contractors
1994 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   59
Percentage to Repugs   41

2004 Elections (Repugs in power):
Percentage to Dems   38
Percentage to Repugs   62

2010 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   58
Percentage to Repugs   42

Industry: Defense Electronics
1994 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   60
Percentage to Repugs   40

2004 Elections (Repugs in power):
Percentage to Dems   39
Percentage to Repugs   61

2010 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   57
Percentage to Repugs   43

Industry: Drug Manufacturers and Pharmaceuticals
1994 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   40
Percentage to Repugs   60

2004 Elections (Repugs in power):
Percentage to Dems   31
Percentage to Repugs   69

2010 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   54
Percentage to Repugs   46

Industry: HMO's and Health Care Providers
1994 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   63
Percentage to Repugs   37

2004 Elections (Repugs in power):
Percentage to Dems   43
Percentage to Repugs   57

2010 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   67
Percentage to Repugs   32

Industry: Insurance
1994 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems  44
Percentage to Repugs  56

2004 Elections (Repugs in power):
Percentage to Dems   32
Percentage to Repugs   67

2010 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   53
Percentage to Repugs   47

Industry: Lobbyists
1994 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   74
Percentage to Repugs   26

2004 Elections (Repugs in power):
Percentage to Dems   48
Percentage to Repugs   52

2010 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   67
Percentage to Repugs   32

Industry: Telecomms
1994 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   55
Percentage to Repugs   45

2004 Elections (Repugs in power):
Percentage to Dems   41
Percentage to Repugs   59

2010 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   55
Percentage to Repugs   45

Industry: Securities and Investment
1994 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   51
Percentage to Repugs   48

2004 Elections (Repugs in power):
Percentage to Dems   48
Percentage to Repugs   51

2010 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   63
Percentage to Repugs   36

Industry: Steel Manufacturers
1994 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   46
Percentage to Repugs   54

2004 Elections (Repugs in power):
Percentage to Dems   27
Percentage to Repugs   72

2010 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   51
Percentage to Repugs   49

Industry:  Oil and Gas
1994 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   38
Percentage to Repugs   62

2004 Elections (Repugs in power):
Percentage to Dems   19
Percentage to Repugs   80

2010 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   32
Percentage to Repugs   67

Industry: Agribusiness
1994 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   40
Percentage to Repugs   60

2004 Elections (Repugs in power):
Percentage to Dems   28
Percentage to Repugs   71

2010 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   47
Percentage to Repugs   53

Industry: Labor Unions
1994 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   96
Percentage to Repugs   4

2004 Elections (Repugs in power):
Percentage to Dems   87
Percentage to Repugs   13

2010 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   92
Percentage to Repugs   7

Industry: Motion Pictures
1994 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   90
Percentage to Repugs   10

2004 Elections (Repugs in power):
Percentage to Dems   86
Percentage to Repugs   14

2010 Elections (Dems in power):
Percentage to Dems   91
Percentage to Repugs   9

The data is clear---corporate industries leap from one party to the other with ease, according to who is in power at the time. The vast majority of corporations are nonpartisan--they simply give the lion's share of their cash to whoever can do them favors, and they don't care which party it happens to be. And even in those industries which consistently support one party or the other (such as oil/gas and labor unions), the percentage of contributions to that party still goes up when it's in power, and goes down when it's not.

Nearly everything that many DKosers would like to believe about corporations and the Dem/Repug parties, is simply not true.  The Repugs are NOT consistently backed by the rich and powerful corporations, the Dems are NOT valiantly fighting back the big corporations with small donors, and the corporations do NOT tailor their contributions to help beat the Democratic Party.

Rather, the reality, as revealed by the contributions themselves, is this: the corporations are utterly amorally ruthlessly nonpartisan. They are just as happy to help the Dems win as they are to help the Repugs win. They flit freely from one party to the other whenever convenient (and both parties sell themselves eagerly when the time comes), motivated not by partisan politics, but by simple self-interest--they want to buy favors from whoever is in power, and they don't give a flying fig which party it happens to be.  So they give their cash to both parties in every election, so they have a friend no matter who wins. They can afford to be nonpartisan because they own both parties and can back either one as convenient for them.

That, my friends, is the reality.

My apologies in advance to all the blue-pennant ideologues here who simply don't want to hear that or to believe it.  Reality sucks.  Get used to it.  (shrug)

EDIT:  Moved here from one of the comments:

response to a criticism

In another thread, someone made what is actually a very perceptive criticism of the figures I cite above -- that they include individual employee contributions, and that while individual contributions get lumped together with the money from their employing corporation, they don't necessarily reflect the interests of the corporation.

But . . .

When you look at solely PAC contributions, which are solicited solely by the corporations from people who agree with their interests, the same pattern remains.  An example is the health care industry:

PAC Contributions to Federal Candidates
Election cycle:  

Health Professionals: $10,619,892
65% to Dems / 35% to Repubs

Health Services/HMOs: $1,873,572
65% to Dems / 34% to Repubs

Hospitals/Nursing Homes: $3,039,694
70% to Dems / 30% to Repubs

Misc Health: $29,700
32% to Dems / 68% to Repubs

Pharmaceuticals/Health Products: $5,777,681
60% to Dems / 40% to Repubs

Total Amount:    $21,340,539
Total to Democrats:    $13,732,290     (64%)
Total to Republicans:    $7,583,749     (36%)
Number of PACs making contributions:    104

Compare with 2004 when the Repugs were in power:
Health
PAC Contributions to Federal Candidates
Election cycle:  

Total Amount:    $31,629,423
Total to Democrats:    $10,821,842     (34%)
Total to Republicans:    $20,783,931     (66%)
Number of PACs making contributions:    106

In non-individual PAC donations, the health industry still follows the same pattern that every other industry does when we include the individual contributions -- the corporados give money to both sides, and the lion's share still goes to whoever holds power at the time.

My hypothesis as to why individual contributions don't vary much from corporate contributions is that most employees simply don't care about politics and don't pay much attention to it, and merely give money when their employers says it's in the company interest to do so.

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to Lenny Flank on Fri Feb 26, 2010 at 12:25 PM PST.

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