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Moyers writes: "The House of Representatives, where Congress gathers to hear the President, used to be known as 'The People's House.' But money power owns the lease now and runs the joint from hidden back rooms."

Bill Moyers is interviewed by Val Zavala, 01/06/12. (photo: SOCAL Connection)
Bill Moyers is interviewed by Val Zavala, 01/06/12. (photo: SOCAL Connection)



Democracy for Dollars

By Bill Moyers, Moyers and Company

17 February 13

 

 

he House of Representatives, where Congress gathers to hear the president, used to be known as 'The Peoples' House'," Bill says in this broadcast essay, "but money power owns the lease now, and runs the joint from hidden back rooms."

Bill spotlights Congressional leaders from both parties whose connections and possible allegiances to deep-pocketed backers makes one wonder who's really running our government, and buying our democracy.

Full Transcript:

BILL MOYERS: Welcome. At the State of the Union speech, there’s always more than meets the eye. Just out of sight is the reality of how we are governed. The House of Representatives, where Congress gathers to hear the President, used to be known as “The People’s House.” But money power owns the lease now and runs the joint from hidden back rooms.

You're looking at the most expensive Congress money can buy. The House races last fall cost over one billion dollars. It took more than $700 million to elect just a third of the Senate. The two presidential candidates raised more than a billion a piece. The website Politico added it all up to find that the total number of dollars spent on the 2012 election exceeded the number of people on this planet -- some seven billion.

Most of it didn’t come from the average Joe and Jane. Sixty percent of all super PAC donations came from just 159 people. And the top 32 super PAC donors gave an average of 9.9 million dollars. Think how many teachers that much money could hire.

We’ll never actually know where all of the money comes from. One third of the billion dollars from outside groups was “dark money,” secret funds anonymously funneled through fictional “social welfare” organizations. Those are front groups, created to launder the money inside the deep pockets.

And don't let anyone ever tell you the money didn't make a difference. More than 80 percent of House candidates and two-thirds of Senate candidates who outspent their general election opponents won, and were present and counted as the new Congress prepared to hear the President. Remember, money doesn't necessarily corrupt legislators, but it certainly tilts them.

HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER at the State of the Union: Members of Congress, I have the high privilege and distinct honor of presenting to you, the President of the United States.

BILL MOYERS: So let's share some snapshots from the State of the Union. That’s Speaker of the House John Boehner, of course. He's led his party to protect Wall Street from oversight and accountability. The finance, insurance, and real estate industries gave him more than three million dollars last year.

Eric Cantor is the Republican majority leader in the House. Among his biggest donors--Goldman Sachs, masterminds of the mortgage-backed securities that almost sank the world economy. Cantor’s also the third largest recipient of money from the National Rifle Association in the House, which is one reason he's such a "big gun" there.

Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, may be in hot water. He's currently under investigation for allegations that he improperly intervened with government agencies on behalf of a big donor.

And there's Fred Upton, Republican from Michigan, chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee. What a coincidence. The oil and gas industry is one of his top donors, helping him raise the four million dollars he spent last year to win re-election.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrats of New York, have Wall Street as a constituent and patron. Her biggest contributors include JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and law firms that have advised them. His top donors include securities and investment firms, lawyers and legal firms, and lobbyists.

And there are fleeting glances of some familiar faces here tonight seen recently on our broadcast. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader in the Senate, Republican Orrin Hatch of Utah, and Democratic Senator Max Baucus of Montana. All cited by "The New York Times" as suspects in that mysterious migration of half a billion dollars from taxpayers over to the bottom line of drug companies, especially the pharmaceutical giant Amgen. Would it surprise you to learn that over the past five years, Amgen has been one of the top ten donors to McConnell, Baucus, and Hatch?

As for our president--by attending a fundraiser on the average of every 60 hours during his bid for a second term, he once again broke the record for bringing home the bacon. Although the money power that controls Congress could thwart everything Obama proposed in his State of the Union address, there was not a single word in his speech about taming the power of private money over public policy.

And so it goes: The golden rule of politics. He who has the gold, rules.

 

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-47 # moafu@yahoo.com 2013-02-17 10:13
Yes, Bill, you are right about the money controlling the goons we foolishly re-elected. As far as the Pres. is concerned.....a fund raiser every 60 hours included one fund raiser in Vegas while he engaged dereliction of duty during the Benghazi debacle.
 
 
+15 # Anarchist 23 2013-02-17 12:54
Quoting moafu@yahoo.com:
Yes, Bill, you are right about the money controlling the goons we foolishly re-elected. As far as the Pres. is concerned.....a fund raiser every 60 hours included one fund raiser in Vegas while he engaged dereliction of duty during the Benghazi debacle.


So what can you say of pResident Bush when he was on vacation a full 30 days before 9/11? and then sat there for 20 minutes in that FL, classroom like a dumbstruck cow? BTW-not a big Obama fan;haven't liked most of the pResidents since JFK was assassinated by Big Oil, CIA and the rest of the forces of Evil.
 
 
+1 # RLF 2013-02-18 05:26
I would agree that the Bengazi debacle illustrates that the pres. and his men/women have the same arrogance and lack of a real idea of where things are that Bush had when he started the Iraq war. They both continue to believe that democracy is coming and not theocracy. Typical of a corporatacracy!
 
 
-18 # MidwestTom 2013-02-17 10:47
So far in his second term Obama is still campaigning. I wish that someone would tell him that we elected him to lead, and solve problems, not fly around in Air Force One , which puts out as much CO2 as a good size power plant. He could state in positions from Washington, and work with Congress.
 
 
+25 # fieldsofgrain 2013-02-17 10:48
Regardless of the money for sound bites and photo ops., why are people incapable of caring enough to do their own research or fact finding. We have the technology in our homes, and still turn to burned and branded same ole' empty advertisments as if they were of God him/her self.
 
 
+21 # Trueblue Democrat 2013-02-17 12:15
When a relatively tiny island nation called England occupied the populous and massive sub-continent of India, it was clear to nearly everyone that something other than naked power was needed to keep such an area under the conqueror's thumb. Chicanery was the answer. The English installed the most labyrinthine bureaucracy that twisted minds could conceive, and for generations milions of Indians, petitioning with their grievances against the English crown, dutifully wended their tortuous way through the legal bog that was the Indian administrative system.

What does South Asian history have to do with us. Just this: here and on other sites, progressives are constantly asking "Where's the rage? Why are we not out in the streets like the protestors of the 1960s and 1970s." The answer is very simple: they didn't have a blow-off valve. The only way they had to let off steam was to take on the government with raucous, threatening protests all across the land.

Today, fortunately for the powers that enslave us, we have a blow-off valve that lets us vent our frustrations without accomplishing one damned thing. It's called the internet.

So, fieldsofgrain, maybe technology at times is not the answer -- it's the problem.
 
 
+6 # Majikman 2013-02-17 20:08
Interesting perspective, Trueblue. OTOH where would we go for the truth? Rather than technology being the problem, I don't think it's value is yet fully realized and utilized. Thing's are a-cookin' but not yet come to boil.
 
 
+2 # RLF 2013-02-18 05:20
How many on line things have you sent to congress and to what avail?
 
 
+6 # RLF 2013-02-18 05:19
The other reason that people aren't out in streets is the same one all over the press these days...they are poor! they can't afford to lose their jobs and their college age kids are too busy playing video games to notice anything. We should make it illegal to start a war and not have a draft for everyone...in descending order according to economic status.
 
 
+14 # MidwestTom 2013-02-17 10:53
We live in a country where we make money by printing it, and then giving it to bankers, who then make sure that nothing changes by buying politicians. Until we stop the reality that more money can be made handling money, than by actually building or doing something productive, we are doomed to more of the same. Remember that one term in Congress gets one the salary for life.
 
 
+1 # fieldsofgrain 2013-02-18 07:55
Quoting MidwestTom:
We live in a country where we make money by printing it, and then giving it to bankers, who then make sure that nothing changes by buying politicians. Until we stop the reality that more money can be made handling money, than by actually building or doing something productive, we are doomed to more of the same. Remember that one term in Congress gets one the salary for life.

Again I suggest we have the technology/info rmation in our homes and this rumor of salary for life really needs to be put to rest. see...http://ww w.senate.gov/CR SReports/crs-pu blish.cfm?pid=' 0E%2C*PLC8%22%4 0%20%20%0A Yet, the 'Perks' certainly will follow for life of friends in high places, and Corp. interest, etc...
 
 
+13 # cmp 2013-02-17 11:01
Article. 1. Section .2.
No Person shall be a Representative. ..who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

Article. 1. Section .3.
No Person shall be a Senator...who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.

A study from a watch dog group in San Francisco a few years ago, found that in the House of Representatives of the 435 members, 89.3% of their money on average came from outside of their own Districts. Also, 14 out of the top 15 largest donor zip codes were inside the Beltway (aka lobbyist groups)...

Clearly, the Constitution's intent was for the Representative & their Constituent to each be mutually linked as members of the same geographical Community. It has just always seemed a very sick perversion to me that we as citizen’s are clearly and rightly structured to each have an equal voice with 1 vote that is rooted in our geographies.. Also, the Spirit of the Law clearly intends for the elected Representative to be beholden to the constituents of their own District first. But, then we are governed by a “Supreme” Court that say’s “unlimited dollars (aka black market - "free speech") shall have no borders..”

Can someone please, help me out? What have I missed?
 
 
+2 # SOF 2013-02-18 03:50
[quote name="cmp"...

Can someone please, help me out? What have I missed?
Probably not much cmp. Try looking at it from imagined 1% viewpoint. Then it make more sense -it works for them.! There was a coupe. Many don't see it, but more and more do. Our new aristocracy is now obvious and brutal. The past and present ways are already obsolete.
We are discovering new ways. Our combined experiences, viewpoints, and personal passions will take us to survival and transformation. Imagine your best wish for us; always move toward that direction. .. I hope that helps.
 
 
+2 # fieldsofgrain 2013-02-18 08:13
Quoting cmp:
Article. 1. Section .2.
No Person shall be a Representative...who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

Article. 1. Section .3.
No Person shall be a Senator...who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.

A study from a watch dog group in San Francisco a few years ago, found that in the House of Representatives of the 435 members, 89.3% of their money on average came from outside of their own Districts. Also, 14 out of the top 15 largest donor zip codes were inside the Beltway (aka lobbyist groups)...

Clearly, the Constitution's intent was for the Representative & their Constituent to each be mutually linked as members of the same geographical Community. It has just always seemed a very sick perversion to me that we as citizen’s are clearly and rightly structured to each have an equal voice with 1 vote that is rooted in our geographies.. Also, the Spirit of the Law clearly intends for the elected Representative to be beholden to the constituents of their own District first. But, then we are governed by a “Supreme” Court that say’s “unlimited dollars (aka black market - "free speech") shall have no borders..”

Can someone please, help me out? What have I missed?

We missed ALEC, and their surrounding Think Tanks created by and for sharks.
 
 
+1 # cmp 2013-02-18 11:55
Thank You Both So Much for responding! Thank You! Because, I'm not at all being trying to be facetious, at all.

I'm not a lawyer. And, I don't want to be one. But, like most of us, I'm just trying to figure out how this cesspool of black market free speech is equitably and legally justified.

I've been reading the Federalist Papers #9 & #10. I'm still struggling with the definitions and interpretations of "Factions" and Republic's."

Call it a quandary or, call it the Chief Justice's legal chicanery. But, when it gets to the point where 80% (and growing) of the Citizens feel that their Fundamental Right is trumped.. SOF, you hit the nail on the head. We need to talk and we need to share. I have Robert's email from below, too. Thank You Robert for what you are doing!
 
 
+1 # SOF 2013-02-18 15:35
I don't understand why FOX 'entertainers' aren't sued for slander! I'm on FB. With imagination you could find and message me.
 
 
-1 # cmp 2013-02-19 06:37
I know.

I'm in Phx. On the channel 3 local news last night, they announced that they would report to us "The National & World News" segment:
1st story, A cruise liner had an oil leak and that's why it caught fire..
2nd story, Their is a girl in Colorado, who is too fat to have a massage performed..
And, that's all folks.. We're going to commercial..

There's our "Fourth Branch" of government in action.. And, quite arguably, our most important branch..

We got some stranger-danger , all right. And, it's by far, the man behind that box in the corner of my living room.

I'm sorry. But, I haven't joined any social media sites. I rationalize blogging here, cause it's independent media. You know..

Neighbor, I'll try to follow your posts with rsn. Thanks again so much for the uplifting wisdom.

Robert, I read your entire website. Now, their is a lifetime of dedication that the world owes you a very sincere "THANK YOU" for.
 
 
+13 # Robert Cohen 2013-02-17 11:05
Yes, the legalized corruption of our political leaders by money-in-politi cs must be rapidly ended to save the nation.

One likely way to get the money-givers out of politics is to file multiple lawsuits challenging the Santa Clara (corporate personhood) and Buckley (“money is speech”) Supreme Court decisions, but stopping short of challenging Citizens United.

Chief Justice Roberts recently voted to preserve Obamneycare. Similarly, in ruling on the proposed lawsuits, one of the five conservative Justices may “pull a Roberts” and be recognized in history as a great American patriot for saving the nation from continuing to go down the tubes because of the legalized corruption and bribery of our elected leaders.

Polls indicate that about 80% of the citizenry are disgusted with the obscene amounts of money-in-politi cs, hence I infer that there will be widespread public support for these lawsuits as they wend their way to the Supreme Court for consolidation and resolution.

No longer corrupted by money-in-politi cs, Congress would be enabled to enact urgently needed legislation in the public interest. Such as to pave the way for public financing of elections, free airtime for congressional candidates, universal health care, raising essential revenue from those who can best afford to supply it, and exerting world leadership in preventing and mitigating global warming.

Let's flush stare decisis and avoid civil disruption.

Contact me at r.cohen@ieee.org
 
 
+9 # James Marcus 2013-02-17 11:32
Had Enough yet? would you like to wait until Congress 'Legalizes' the rape of your daughters (they already murder our sons and steal Everything. Why do you think they can't seem to 'Balance the Budget'?). Fraud, Corruption, Waste, embezzlement.
My friends, this is not merely 'Name Calling'.
When do we Throw the Foxes from the Hen House, and re-elect The Peoples' Representatives ?
Publicly Financed elections. NO Political Contributions, AT ALL, ever.
Impeach The Drone Ranger.
Prosecute All Involved, in murder and Corruption, for crimes against Humanity, and The US Constitution (this one, we call Treason)
 
 
+4 # MindDoc 2013-02-17 14:15
Amazing how people are set off by the mere mention of the rampant corruption and allegiances borne of the money-takes-all system. Some seem not to have read or registered what Moyer's so vividly and concisely framed. The point - that this is a basis for deadlock, partisan races for the gold, and funding-over-le adership as the preoccupation - is spot on. How many other explicit, documented exposes on the power of money to corrupt and shape what's left of 'the American dream' are out there? How many - even this - get any attention or follow-up?

Moyers is right - this game of gaming and funding defines the underlying malignancy which must be excised if We the People are to remain in the sights of "our leaders", between fund raisers.
 
 
+3 # Hank 2013-02-17 14:56
moafu@yahoo.com and MidwestTom, your comments are totally out of place and so far off the mark it's unbelievable.
 
 
+1 # tm7devils 2013-02-17 17:58
...and those of us don't own the gold get it in the ass...democracy , morality and human kindness in action.
It makes me all tingly and fuzzy inside.
 
 
+1 # SOF 2013-02-18 04:12
Well, we see what we look for. And yet, there is more than meets the eye. We inherit a country won by revolution for a shadowy vision of freedom and justice. Let's show it's still important.
 
 
0 # Unicorn144 2013-02-18 15:08
Does the phrase "conflict of interest" ring any bells???

It should....

High time to get this project started; to amend the Constitution so the Will of the People can Prevail....and I have the Pen and the 4 amendments to do it....
 
 
+2 # Walter J Smith 2013-02-20 15:25
Remember Supreme Court Justice, Scalia? He has repeatedly insisted the Constitution is dead. One time he practically yelled it repeatedly: "dead, dead, dead!"

He should know. He & Thomas buried it.

With a little help from their friends.
 
 
0 # Corvette-Bob 2013-03-10 08:01
My proposal is to eliminate the vote for citizens and only allow corp to vote so that we can see exactly who is control the government rather than conduct the charade that we pretend is operating the country. Oh, maybe we should also allow anyone with a net worth over $ 1 billion to vote as well, but since they control the corps that would be two votes for each one.
 

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