GORDON GEKKO GOES TO WASHINGTON
MEMBERS OF CONGRESS GET POSTER DEPICTING
GIANT MERGER BETWEEN WALL STREET AND CONGRESS
Washington, DC – Public Campaign, a non-partisan not-profit organization dedicated to sweeping campaign finance reform, delivered a copy of its new poster “State of the Union: Congress Meets Wall Street/How Big Corporate Campaign Contributors are Buying America…And What the Rest of Us Pay” to every Member of Congress today. Along with the poster was a letter from the organization calling on Members to end their reliance on big money from corporate special interests and start listening to the people who elected them. (See below for a copy of the letter.)
“Our new poster serves as a wake up call to Americans and our elected officials that the halls of Congress have become synonymous with the trading floor of Wall Street,” said Public Campaign’s executive director Nick Nyhart. “For a few million in focused donations, an industry gets billions in tax breaks here, billions in subsidies there—returns on investment that would make honest entrepreneurs blush, but makes Wall Street salivate. And just like the floor of Wall Street, the real winners are the wealthy special interests with inside access, while ordinary Americans, like common shareholders, are left out in the cold.”
”Americans want their public representatives to be beholden to no one but the public,” Nyhart continued. “They want Congress’s decisions to be based on the merits, not on the size of someone’s wallet or lobbying budget.”
The 2x3’ poster is centered on a photograph showing the president speaking before a phantasmagoric assembly of elected officials, stock exchange brokers, and high-tech stock tickers. Beneath the photo are a series of thirteen charts detailing how big corporate campaign contributions from leading industries are buying America, what they are getting for their political investments and what the rest of us pay in higher taxes, dirty air and water, billions lost from our retirement funds, and the like.
To view a larger version of the poster image as well as the detailed industry-by-industry charts, go to www.publicampaign.org/stateoftheunion
January 27, 2003
Dear Member of Congress:
Some people think it’s more important to give a big campaign contribution than to vote…that it’s “the American way” to buy access and influence with big money…that it’s OK if public policy is sold to the highest bidder. Some even think that the only real democracy is in the marketplace, where we all supposedly vote with our dollars.
Well, we at Public Campaign disagree, and we believe so do a lot of other Americans. Which is why we created the “State of the Union” poster and are sending it to your office. Because we wanted to use one picture to say what a thousand words couldn’t say about the marriage of big money and Washington.
If you object to our characterization of Congress as a huge bazaar, consider the following: Today, big corporations and the super-wealthy invest millions in political contributions and get all kinds of special deals in return. For a few million in focused donations, an industry gets billions in tax breaks here, billions in subsidies there—returns on investment that would make honest entrepreneurs blush, but makes Wall Street salivate.
All this adds up to real money, and ordinary Americans pay the price. With higher deficits, cuts in vital programs, a dirtier environment, more dangerous working conditions, lower wages, greater health insecurity, a diminished future for our children.
Americans want their public representatives to be beholden to no one but the public. They want your decisions on votes to be based solely on the merits, not on the size of someone’s wallet or lobbying budget.
It’s time for you to decide: Should public policy be bought and sold like commodities in the stock market? Should a tiny elite, insulated from the everyday needs of average Americans, be able to buy politicians and obtain special treatment? Or should we offer candidates who refuse special-interest donations a source of "clean" public money?
From the perspective of those who value democracy, the State of the Union is not sound. But hope is on the horizon. Clean Money/Clean Elections public financing reinvigorates our democracy and rescues public officials from the money chase. It’s already passed in Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Vermont, with more states on the way. And Rep. John Tierney (D-MA) and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) have introduced bills that would implement a similar system for federal elections.
Many members of Congress already support this comprehensive approach to campaign finance reform, because they don’t want this vital institution bought and sold like any other commodity. To find out more, go to www.publicampaign.org or contact Public Campaign at 202-293-0222.