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All polls show that members of Congress are indeed voting on issues that are most favorable to their wealthiest campaigns contributors, and are ignoring most other opinions of the majority of their constituents, except for on the wedge issues.

The majority of Americans want campaign finance reform. Most Americans want Citizens
overturned. The majority of Americans also want the federal election laws changed. And they don't want limitations placed on voting rights (such as restricting the days and hours for voting). And they also want to stop the manipulation of congressional gerrymandering of state districts. And most Americans would like to change the way the electoral college decides our elections.

The majority of Americans want federally funded elections with limitations on campaign donations, so that politicians can be more beholden to the voters, rather than to special interests who contribute unlimited sums of money to SuperPACs. The majority of Americans want unrestricted and honest democracy, knowing that when they vote, their votes really will matter.

The majority of Americans want "wedge issues" (e.g. same-sex marriage, immigration reform, gun safety laws, etc.), just like every other important piece of congressional legislation, to be voted on separately, in "up-and-down" votes on the floors of the House and in the Senate, and not filibustered by one lone anonymous obstructionist, or amended to other important legislative bills that are pending in Congress. The voters have a right to witness what their elected representatives are voting on, either for or against, rather than have them hide behind legal and procedural gimmicks that members of Congress think might save their seat in the next election cycle. The American people want them all on the record. (The Senate recently passed
a budget
for the first time in four years that had more than 500 amendments.)

Americans also want Congressional reform. They want an end the "revolving door policy", where members of Congress who usually vote on issues that mostly favor the largest corporations and banks, can't later go work for those same corporations and banks after they leave public office. Most Americans want the lobbying on K Street to be very reformed, so that the people's opinions also matter.

But members of Congress (in both political parties) benefits from the current status quo, and so therefore, have steadfastly refused to make any of these changes that most Americans want. The only thing Congress has managed to reform was to put very slight restrictions on themselves for the insider trading of stocks (and that was only because of a public outcry, rather than because it was the right thing to do). How can the American people ever get the members of Congress (in both political parties) to reform themselves?

And the majority of Americans also want to reform our banking system and Wall Street. But for most members Congress, those places must seem so dark, so corrupt, and so evil --- that even our bravest elected representatives refuse to visit those places --- especially in broad daylight. They are all very well aware that these people, those with so much wealth and power, can also be very ruthless, and sometimes, even dangerous.

And too much money in the hands of the wrong person, such as an apathetic psychopath, can be utterly horrific, because items on the psychopath checklist include a grandiose sense of self worth and a lack of empathy -- characteristics that are, unfortunately, rewarded in our society. As to our population, a proportionate number of those who fall into this category can be found in the corporate boardrooms, on Wall Street, and on the floors of our Congress.

Rather than fully implementing and enforcing the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the politicians in Congress have only been more willing to compromise on ideological wedge issues, more so than on the more serious economic matters, such as reforming the tax code, or creating jobs that pay a living wage, or compromising on raising the minimum wage --- issues that actually affect the vast majority of ordinary American lives on a daily basis.

And like Congress, the corporate mainstream media also seems perfectly willing to spend more time and energy on the wedge issues as well. Why haven't they and Congress been more focused on the major (and still ongoing) problems with jobs and the economy?

The attention that's been focused on same-sex marriage, immigration reform, and gun safety laws are all well and good, and these issues should be debated, and new laws should be passed, if that's what the majority of the Americans want. But why can't our Senators and Representatives chew gum and walk down the halls of Congress at the same time?

And lately, when members of Congress do listen to the public's opinion, and when they do compromise with each other in Congress, it's usually just on the wedge issues, on policies that don't have any affect at all on the financial industry, a corporation's bottom line, or the take-home-pay of a CEO after capital gains taxes are deducted.

A tidal wave of politicians from both sides of the aisle, who just a few years ago opposed same-sex marriage, are now coming around to support it. The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll finds support for marriage equality at the highest in the ten years, with 58 percent of Americans in favor.

A significant number of elected officials, who had once been against allowing undocumented immigrants to become American citizens, are now talking about "charting a path" for them. A new Pew survey finds that seven in 10 Americans (71 percent) say there should be a way for people in the United States illegally to remain in this country if they meet certain requirements. Recently a deal was announced, a temporary guest worker program that would grant up to 200,000 new visas every year for low-skilled workers (which, after reading the details, I am against).

Even a few politicians, who are staunch gun advocates, are now sounding more reasonable about background checks. Polls show broad support for universal background checks, and for closing the gun-show loophole. (And why not? By law, we all have to register our cars, apply for a driver's license, and buy auto insurance --- even though we have a Constitutional right to access the highways and byways of the land, although sometimes there are certain restrictions and requirements.)

Most politicians seem to have a keen sense of the "tipping point" when it comes to public opinion, and many now support equal marriage rights, immigration reform and gun safety. The exception though is their stance on Wall Street reform and taxes, where public opinion never seems to matter.

Before January's fiscal cliff deal, at least 60 percent of Americans, in poll after poll, expressed strong support for raising taxes on incomes over $250,000. But the deal Congress had made raised that to $450,000. That was NOT the deal that the majority of Americans had wanted.

Only the CEOs of large corporations and banks earn that kind of money, but a great portion of their salaries are paid as stock-options and taxed at the much lower rate as capital gains. So raising that limit was mostly just a symbolic gesture. That was NOT the deal that the majority of Americans had wanted and voted for last November; they wanted something more similar to the Buffett Rule.

And most Americans weren't particularly concerned about the budget deficit to begin with. They've been far more concerned about jobs and wages. Yet maneuvers over the deficit have consistently trumped jobs and wages. That was NOT what the majority of Americans had voted for, or wanted, or expressed as their opinions in poll after poll after poll.

Recent polls show that Americans would rather reduce the deficit by raising taxes, NOT by cutting Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, education, and transportation. Yet Congress seems incapable of making that kind of deal. Instead, they've been busy with passing more anti-abortion laws, repealing ObamaCare© and placing more restrictions on voter's rights.

And 65 percent of Americans want to raise taxes on large corporations (such as having them pay the "statutory" tax rate of 35%, rather than an "effective" rate of only 8.1%) -- but both parties in Congress are heading against what the majority of Americans want.

Also, half of Americans favor a plan to break up Wall Street's twelve mega-banks, which currently controls 69 percent of the banking industry. But our elected representatives don't want to touch Wall Street. Even the White House believes that the banks are too big to fail and too big to prosecute. Most Americans want to see a few CEOs on Wall Street tried for their crimes against the American people.

Why are our politicians so sensitive to public opinion on wedge issues such as equal marriage rights, immigration, and guns -- and so tone deaf to what most Americans want on jobs, minimum wages, tax reform, Wall Street reform, and the entire economy as a whole?

Robert Reich thinks "it's perhaps because gay marriage, a path to amnesty and any form of gun control doesn't threaten big money in America. But any tinkering with taxes or financial regulations sets off alarm bells in our nation's finely-appointed dining rooms and board rooms --- alarm bells that, in turn, sets off promises of (or threats to withhold) large wads of campaign cash in the next election."

Our politicians seem to be remarkably impervious to public opinion concerning economic issues that might affect the fates of large fortunes, but seem to feign blindness, ignorance, incompetence, or weakness when approaching big problems that the majority of the population wants addressed.

And as far as the media (cough-cough) we have David and Charles Koch trying to purchase the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun, and the Los Angeles Times -- and Rupert Murdoch, who not only has News Corp, also wanted to buy the Los Angeles Times. He once admitted that he would personally involve himself in the editorial process "if he had to". That's all we need, rich ultra-conservative billionaires controlling ALL our lame-stream news.

Robert Reich's post tells of two political scientists who had recently polled a group of Chicago multi-millionaires and found that their biggest concern was budget deficits and government spending (not unemployment). These wealthy individuals were also far less willing to curb deficits by raising taxes on high-income people, and more willing to cut Social Security and Medicare.

They also opposed initiatives to increase spending on schools and raising the minimum wage above the poverty level. They also had more and greater access to members of Congress because of generous political donations.

So who are these politicians really representing? We already know, and we've known for a very long time.

All polls show that members of Congress are indeed voting on issues that are most favorable to their wealthiest campaigns contributors, and are ignoring most other opinions of the majority of their constituents, except for on the wedge issues.

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Comment Preferences

  •  NC GOPs love them some "wedge issues". Witness: (4+ / 0-)

    Republican lawmakers in North Carolina want to make it harder to get a divorce, the Raleigh News & Observer reports.

     The proposed law "would extend to two years the current one-year waiting period in order for a divorce to be finalized. During that time, the couple would have to complete courses on improving their communications skills and conflict resolution. If the couple has children, they would have to take at least a four-hour class on the impact of divorce on children."

    No to campaign finance, job creation, infrastructure, etc.
    Yes to divorce more difficult (family issues?) outlawing abortion, making voting harder, etc.

    How does this fit with Reince's post mortem analysis?

    "They will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy. The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip."

    by TofG on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 02:19:14 PM PDT

  •  same sex marriage and immigration is (2+ / 0-)

    to the Democratic Party what gay marriage and abortion are to the GOP.  

    It is red meat for their base.  Something to distract them while they continue to loot.  

    A pox on both of their houses.

    What we need is a Democrat in the White House.

    by dkmich on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 02:23:18 PM PDT

  •  I agree with Robert Reich.. (3+ / 0-)

    I've felt the GOP would moderate on marriage equality, immigration, because GOP billionaire donors and large corporations never really cared about them. That is, except using wedge issues to get people to vote against their own economic interests...

    That's why I've felt it would take significantly longer for us to make similar progress on economic/environmental front

    Sadly that's the way it seems to be

    As a member of Courtesy Kos, I am dedicated to civility and respect for all kossacks, regardless of their opinions, affiliations, or cliques.

    by joedemocrat on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 02:26:40 PM PDT

  •  Americans people don't care about any of that. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fille americaine, Mark Mywurtz

    If they did, they would have voted based on economics. And they don't. It's one thing to tell the pollster that you prefer things to be this way vs that way and another to actively care about it.

  •  These statements are just ignorant. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Only the CEOs of large corporations and banks earn that kind of money,
     Really?  What about doctors, lawyers, contractors, farmers, vintners, chefs, authors, entertainers, TV reporters, scientists, college presidents, and countless other professions in which someone can earn > $250,000/year?
    such as having them pay the "statutory" tax rate of 35%
     About the only way to do that would be to make taxable income = book income.  But that would require a bit of contortion to make tax theory = book accounting theory, which they don't for various reasons, including many that have nothing to do with political lobbyists.

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 02:47:46 PM PDT

    •  I used the term "CEOs" in a general sense. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BrianParker14, unfangus

      Most TV reporters/anchors don't make that much, except perhaps a few that work for the cable news channels like FOX, CNN, MSNBC (who earn millions).

      A few trial/injury lawyers in class-action cases occasionally bring in a windfall, but not usually year after year like the CEO of Ford does.

      Yes, movie stars and professional athletes make more than that in their contracts, but most actors on Broadway (or athletes in the minor leagues) don't.

      Out of all the writers we have, how many get a New York Times best-selling novel? Bill O'Reilly might.

      Contractors that earn that much (as a personal salary, not in gross sales) are usually the CEOs of their own company.

      Farmers? You mean like those in the Dairy or Tobacco industry, who also get tax subsidies? Yes, as CEOs they earn more than $250k a year. The few small family-owned farms that we generally think of, no longer exist.

      The average neurosurgeon at a hospital brings in about $250k a year. If a doctor is in private practice, I couldn't tell you, but the CEOs of many hospitals make much more.

      I used the term "CEOs" in a general sense, but the point you are trying to make still doesn't negate my point: the that majority of Americans had wanted the cap to be $250k, not $450k.

      50% of all wage-earners net $27,000 a year or less.

      •  Non-Qualified Stock Options CANNOT QUALIFY (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        for long term capital gains treatment. You have now been told this at least ten times by me and other tax experts here at DKOS. Please stop writing things that are not factual and add to the echo of misinformation here at DKOS and the Internet generally. There is no way to structure non-qualified stock options, the type that executives receive, that qualifies the income as long term capital gains. ALL INCENTIVE EQUITY COMPENSATION of Fortune 1000 executives is taxed at the top marginal earned income rate.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 07:05:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  P.S. - FYI (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BrianParker14, Musial, Gary Norton

      Out of 151.4 million Americans in the workforce, 149.9 million earned $249,999.99 a year or less.

      1.5 million Americans earned more than $250,000.00 a year.

      Only 377,279 Americans earned over $450,000.00 a year (CEOs, movie stars, rock stars, football stars, TV reporters, "contractors", authors, lawyers, doctors, etc.)

      SOURCE: Social Security

      •  Thank you Bud. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Thank you for the confirmation.  OMG you may have made a slight misstatement, but the point of your post is exactly correct.

        Those that like to take a small point and use it to distract from the larger context is exactly what your post was about.

        We may not be perfect be at least we're trying to identify the real problems.

        I guess some missed what you were saying while trying to distract or maybe they didn't miss your point and that is why they are trying to distract.

        Here's one, has any republican legislator ever said anything that was not misleading, a distraction from the point at issue or not a total lie?
        I'm not exonerating Dems, just highlighting repubs.

        "I freed a thousand slaves, I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves" Harriet Tubman

        by BrianParker14 on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 09:08:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  thanks, if money out of politics is the answer (0+ / 0-)

        and if supporting an amendment is unlikely to do that, then voters will have to rearrange their priorities at least one election cycle to produce a Congress that will address that single issue. How that likely happens is by legislation protected from Court review, which use of the exceptions clause looks to most centrists as a revolution. But that's right it would look as bad as FDR's Court packing threats, which saved the New Deal and got us to Brown v. Board. Restoration of Congressional power is a future that is about as probable as was the civil war in 1854.

  •  US political parties are not equally to blame (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson, Gary Norton

    The Repubs are every evil thing you have mentioned, and more. It would help your argument to focus on them.

    The Dems are not blameless, but within their ranks are those, like Senators Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, and Jeff Merkley, who champion economic fairness issues. The Congressional Progressive Caucus just released their Back to Work Budget, which addresses many of the issues you have described. See this link:

    There is no economic justice caucus within the Congressional Republican delegation because that is exactly the opposite of what they want. By contrast, the Congressional Progessive Caucus is the largest Democratic caucus in the House of Representatives.

    Eradicate magical thinking

    by Zinman on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 05:56:42 PM PDT

  •  It's not just in Congress (0+ / 0-)

    they trump WS and tax reform here on DK as well.  

    Political compass: -8.75 / -4.72

    by Mark Mywurtz on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 08:01:45 PM PDT

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