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How The United States Economy and Politics Are Affected by Politics

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Words: 1439 |

Pages: 3|

8 min read

Published: Mar 14, 2019

Words: 1439|Pages: 3|8 min read

Published: Mar 14, 2019

By definition, the act of lobbying is to seek influence. In 2016 The United States Congress received almost thirty million dollars in influence. Lobbying can be used for good, but many times the money is used to further the cause of corporate interests. These interests often find themselves at odds with todays progressive ideals, such as fixing climate change, ending the for-profit incarceration cycle, and Wall Street reform.

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Lobbying in the United States is completely legal, and it isn’t inherently evil. A lobbyist is just a professional that is hired to represent their client’s interests to any elected official, and these lobbyists can be representing any kind of group, such as major businesses, unions, and nonprofits. According to Tim Roemer, who represented Indiana’s third congressional district from 1991 to 2003, he raised $850,000 in his 1991 congress campaign. Between 1986 and 2012, the cost of a congressional race increased by 344%. Senate incumbents have had to raise over $4,700 per day for 6 years to maintain their seats. (represent.us) So how does this information play into lobbying? Well, it is nearly impossible for congress members to raise that amount of money everyday, so they must rely on major donations and lobbying to fulfill their financial needs. Many times, those financial needs are at the expense of corporate interests. Former lobbyist Jack Abramoff said, “You can’t take a congressman to lunch for $25 and buy him a steak. But you can take him to a fundraising lunch and not only buy him that steak, but give him $25,000 extra and call it a fundraiser.”

When the issue of climate change is addressed and debated by the United States Congress, it is addressed as a controversial subject. Not controversial in the ways we will fix it, but in whether or not it exists. This wouldn’t seem logical, seeing how over 97% of scientists agree that climate change exists and is a very large threat to our existence, but the opposition has extreme amounts of lobbying power. (Nasa.gov) Major fossil fuel companies shell out over one hundred million dollars a year to oppose efforts to reduce carbon emissions. (Oreskes) With that amount of money for advertising and lobbying, it is not hard to spread your message, regardless of the truth. On the other side there is almost no money being lobbied for the cause of fighting climate change. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island states, “Washington's dirty secret is that even the American companies that are really good on sustainability put net zero effort into lobbying Congress on climate change.” (Flows) The money that is being lobbied against climate change is being funneled directly into advertisement campaigns and lawmaker’s political campaigns. To make the correlation clear, between votes and fossil fuel money, the lobbying is happening along party lines, and so are the votes. For example, the recent senate’s vote to keep Obama-era regulations passed congress with a vote of 51 in favor and 49 not in favor. Only 4 Republican senators voted in favor and none of them have received any recorded donations from fossil fuel industries. All Democrats voted in favor of former President Obama’s regulations. (Tang, V.) Lobbying is a force strong enough to get the support of half a nation, even when the evidence and support says the votes should be casted otherwise. Lobbying is helped by false news and tends to be extremely profitable for both parties.

A similar effect has taken place with the incarceration system in the United States. The United States has the highest amount of incarcerated people, ratio-wise, in the world. There are more jails than colleges in the United States and they hold over 2.2 million people. In the early 1980’s, mandatory minimum sentencing laws quadrupled the prison population. Most of this population is made up of non-violent drug offenders who serve a minimum of five years for their first offence. With much concern, incarceration costs taxpayers 79 billion dollars annually, with each convicted criminal costing about $29,000 annually. Much like school choice and private schools, there is much profit in privatizing our prisons. This profit is highly chased after by the two largest private prison companies in the U.S., The Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group. Together these companies have contributed over 10 million dollars to candidates and have pushed over 25 million dollars into lobbying. (Borowski) With this amount of financial influence, it is not hard to believe that private prison corporations are pushing to increase sentencing in order to bolster profits. Most of these private prison votes happen at the state level and in more conservative states, and privatization can sometimes focus more on profits instead of functionality. For instance, Texas is voting to re-open its largest private prison in order to create a family detention center in Karnes County. This operation is backed by GEO Group, one of the largest corrections corporations in the United States. The correlation between the lobbying and the votes is there. The private prison industry is worth more than 70 billion dollars and 33 states have private prisons. Between 1990 and 2009, the number of inmates in private prisons has increased by 1,600 percent. (Borowski) This is an issue.

Between 2012 and 2014, financial services companies spent over $1.2 billion on campaign contributions and lobbying congress. That amount of spending was the largest ever for midterm campaign contributions. Financial services, also known as Wall Street, are the largest spenders to campaign contributions and the second largest spender on lobbying. Conservatives retook control of congress in 2014 and the large amounts of spending and campaign victories coincided with a $1 trillion dollar spending bill that would keep the government running and also undermine key provisions in the Dodd-Frank Financial Regulatory Act. (Greenfield) Because of a standoff between Democrats and Republicans, a version that did not undermine Dodd-Frank Regulations was passed and the campaign contributions then focused on the next presidential campaign. Lobbying is not always successful but it is highly effective and it wins elections, and, most of the time, votes. Those who have the largest amounts of money can make the rules in Washington. The largest financial institutions are, of course, focused on gaining as much profit as possible. Though they lost the vote in 2015, a new vote has arisen with the same goal: to beat back, water down, and outright repeal financial reform. With that much power and money, Wall Street has almost unlimited influence within Washington.

To reiterate, by definition, the act of lobbying is to seek influence. Lobbying can be used for good, but many times the money is used to further the cause of corporate interests. These interests often find themselves at odds with todays progressive ideals, such as fixing climate change, ending the for-profit incarceration cycle, and Wall Street reform. There is lobbying happening within all of the political parties at all levels in the United States. Corporations have their own agendas, and those agendas are run by money. Money has no feelings and its creation will not always favor the less fortunate or even, the environment. We are in a time where banks are larger than they have ever been; campaign contributions are shattering records. Fossil fuel corporations are pretending to be sympathetic to the cause against climate change and then they turn around and lobby bills to further deregulate pollution. Our incarceration system is becoming a highly profitable corporation that banks off of taxpayers’ dollars. Bringing in more prisoners brings in more profits. With all of this talk about good and bad, it is important to remember that each side has its lobbyists and, again, lobbying isn’t inherently evil. It’s just that the issues within the United States that need to be fixed are not receiving the lobbying power because they do not profit the largest corporations within this country.

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There needs to be a more level playing field in The United States and the laws that will need to be passed to make that happen will ironically need to be lobbied. Rolling Stones contributor Matt Taibbi proclaimes, “In reality, everybody in Congress is a stand-in for some kind of lobbyist. In many cases it’s difficult to tell whether it’s the companies that are lobbying the legislators or whether it’s the other way around.” There is much need for campaign contribution and lobbying reform in the United States and it seems the only way that would be possible is through executive order. Corporations are people in the United States and people can contribute as they please. Normal people do not not have Billions of dollars.

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How The United States Economy And Politics Are Affected By Politics. (2019, March 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 29, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/how-the-united-states-economy-and-politics-are-affected-by-politics/
“How The United States Economy And Politics Are Affected By Politics.” GradesFixer, 12 Mar. 2019, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/how-the-united-states-economy-and-politics-are-affected-by-politics/
How The United States Economy And Politics Are Affected By Politics. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/how-the-united-states-economy-and-politics-are-affected-by-politics/> [Accessed 29 May 2024].
How The United States Economy And Politics Are Affected By Politics [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Mar 12 [cited 2024 May 29]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/how-the-united-states-economy-and-politics-are-affected-by-politics/
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