“Corporate interests are buying the elections? Oh no", Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, told the New York Times this week. “It’s much worse than that. We don’t know who’s buying the election.”
Sure enough, but we do have an inkling. The first since the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case, which lifted a ban on direct corporate spending—the 2010 elections are being bought by the highest bidder.
Looking at just August spending on TV ads, while spending by the candidates themselves has been pretty even in Senate races, Republican-leaning interest groups have outspent Democratic-leaning ones ten to one, and in the House, by roughly three to one.
And then there's off-screen corporate pressure like this: the big health insurance profiteers, the ones who fought and misfigured health care reform, are raising premiums—and blaming reform—just ahead of the election.
"I would have real deep concerns that the kinds of rate increases that you're quoting...are justified," Nancy-Ann DeParle, the White House's top health official, told the Wall Street Journal.
Higher premiums will produce higher profits, and all the more cash for campaigning. And it's true, federal disclosure laws make it next to impossible to know for sure where money for election ads comes from.
But as Molly Ivins used to say, "You dance with them that brung you"—and as long as politicians are bought and paid for by anyone other than the public, it's not going to be our tune they're jumping to.
The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv which broadcasts weekdays on satellite TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415 Free Speech TV) on cable, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Support us by signing up for our podcast, and follow GRITtv or GRITlaura on Twitter.com.