By @LOLGOP

How 31,385 People — The 1 Percent Of The 1 Percent — Act As The Political Gatekeepers Of American Politics

June 24, 2013 3:30 pm Category: Memo Pad, Memo Share, Politics 24 Comments A+ / A-

The Sunlight Foundation took a look at the 2012 election and found that not a single candidate for federal office won without taking a donation from the 31,385 people who make up the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent of American politics. The median contribution from this group was $26,584 —  which is more than the median income of an average American family.

These top one percent of the one percenters are not representative of America, of course. They predominantly live in big cities and work for Fortune 500 companies. The minimum contribution to be in this group is $13,054 an election — and that number keeps growing.

3-one-percent-of-the-one-percent-minimum-donations-over-time

 

Sunlight argues that the Citizens United decision, which paved the way for unlimited donations to PACs, is behind the rise — though 87.5 percent did not donate to any PACs at all. Winning congressional candidates on average received more money from these 31,385 top donors (17.1 percent) than all of their small donors combined (13 percent).

Both major parties benefit from these uber-donors, though they do tend to favor Republicans.

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So why does this matter?

Lawrence Lessig says it makes for a “corruption” of our democracy, where only .5 percent of Americans truly have a say in how it works.

And there’s no better example of this than how we regulate Wall Street. Lessig writes:

The most important architectural feature of Dodd-Frank is that the most important regulations of Dodd-Frank were not actually in the bill. Instead, Dodd-Frank punted the guts of its potential reform to a multi-year regulatory process. Almost 400 rules were to be written by regulators (with the generous aid of lobbyists): a process, which five years after the crisis, has not yet come to an end.

It doesn’t take a PhD in game theory to understand what that design was about. By shifting the core of the regulations to a procedure stretched over years and dominated by bank lobbyists, the bankers could minimize the chance that this “change” would actually change anything real—and ensure that public and press attention would drift elsewhere as the new rules were worked out.

And that’s precisely what has happened.

Democrats eager to close the gap with those 31,385 top donors are eagerly listening to Wall Street’s advice when it comes to writing these regulations. And that’s music to the 1 percent of the 1 percent’s ears.

How 31,385 People — The 1 Percent Of The 1 Percent — Act As The Political Gatekeepers Of American Politics Reviewed by on . The Sunlight Foundation took a look at the 2012 election and found that not a single candidate for federal office won without taking a donation from the 31,385 The Sunlight Foundation took a look at the 2012 election and found that not a single candidate for federal office won without taking a donation from the 31,385 Rating:

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  • RobertCHastings

    It IS heartening, although frightening, that someone has the balls to come forward and make this statement. What Lawrence Lessig claims verifies the premises of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, that the wealthy do indeed control the government, and that money in today’s world has effectively been translated into political power.

  • idamag

    Very true.

  • sigrid28

    We’re not the first civilization driven like lambs to the slaughter into a social dead end dominated by a plundering, irresponsible plutocracy. Such was the case in Charles Dickens’s London, a symbol of the economic disaster that dominated nineteenth-century England, documented in all of his writings, most famously “A Christmas Carol” (1843) but most meticulously laid out in “Little Dorritt” (1955-57). He held the mirror up to the Victorian Age and forced his readers to confront its demons, one of the worst of which was, in his view, an unbreachable gap between the rich and the poor–the same problem plaguing the United States in the twenty-first century. Yet Dickens was one of the most celebrated writers of his day and received almost no censureship whatsoever.

    What lesson are we to derive? We must plead with our Charles Dickens to step forward. We must join the authors of excellent pieces, like this one published in the National Memo, by writing posts that provide a chronicle for our times. We may not be able to publish serialized novels like Dickens–and who would read them?–but we can communicate via more modern means, such as these comment threads.

    • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

      The “Unbreachable Gap” you describe did not exist until the mid 80s, once the tax codes were all scrambled favoring the top 10% of wage earners, and the regulations regarding banking and investments were completely overturned.

      • sigrid28

        We might all think of our lives in the mid 80s and wonder, how did we let this pass? Just as when we read this article, we have to ask, how can it be that Dodd-Frank is largely unwritten, and there seems to be nothing we can do about it? One thing is for sure. We cannot begin to address these problems until questions like the one you raise are contemplated, much less answered.

  • jarheadgene

    Where are the NAY SAYers on this one..?…they are usually full of quips to try and tell how the MEMO and it’s writers are full crap. I look at them and I say these are the same people of EGYPT backing the pharoah. They are not the pharoah, or his family but they are convinced to LOOK DOWN upon the Hebrews, as if they themselves were part of the Pharoah’s family. These are the same people that would try and block the 13th Ammendmant, knowing the Civil War was coming to an end, they tried to hold off it’s passage. They were taught to LOOK DOWN upon those “African Slaves”. These are the same people that would plead the case of the NAZI Party and follow the party line with Hitler, all the while claiming their self-righteousness and convinced to LOOK DOWN upon the Jews and the rest of Europe, that did not see things their way. These are the same people that would try to stop the Civil Right Act and even switched parties as a result. As they LOOKED DOWN upon those “not like them”, those hippies and liberals and people of color. Where are those 47% of Americans that can’t tell what an antecedent is and build an entire political campaign by disregarding what “THAT” was? Those Romney believers that are still hanging on …even though he lost, where are they to speak out against this article ? The 1% of the 1%, they can determine a lot in this country, but they didn’t get the guy they wanted, in the White House, this time. To that 46% others that voted THEIR way…because they have been convinced that it is OK to LOOK DOWN on the working poor, the poor, the disabled and the elderly…..TO YOU…..YOU are on the wrong side of future history on this one you ELITISTS SNOBS.

    • montanabill

      That disproves what Mr. Lessig was promoting.

      • jarheadgene

        I think he was impying that Overall, a few control the many votes, but only to some degree. What I said was….”NOT THIS TIME!” they did not get the guy in the white house they truly wanted. But seriously look at how gerrymandered The House is. My district got sliced and diced and I lost my Dem Congr. to a Rep Congr. where he would have had his ASS handed to him, had the district been left alone. What really scares the UBER rich is ONE PERSON…ONE VOTE. Why else would they be fighting voting laws right now?

        • montanabill

          What voting laws are they fighting? Those proposed laws that want a photo ID? As a side note, it is the gerrymandering that is responsible for a number of the minority representatives now in Congress, so it is far from a one-way street.

          • jarheadgene

            Bill you almost make minority representation sound like a BAD thing. I don’t care if you name is GOMEZ or MARTINEZ or RODRIGUEZ. If you are a REPugniCON. You are either like you, Super RICH, trying to protect every penny you can, be careful with that. Or you have been convinced that the super rich are in the right and as I earlier stated, LOOK DOWN upon those less fortunate.

          • montanabill

            On the contrary, I fully support a republic form of government in which the minorities do have a say, as opposed to an absolute democracy where 1 million plus 1 can completely over-ride 1 million. In case you have noticed, it is the Republicans that don’t see skin color or social status. They do see workers and shirkers.
            It sounds like your attitude that the rich are trying to protect every penny is borne solely of our desire to determine for ourselves where and how the money we earn is to be spent rather than simply handing it over to government to spent how the bureaucracy sees fit. It is not an argument about paying taxes, but about what is really a ‘fair share’. Under any system, those making the most will always be paying more than those who make less. In every country, including this one, the argument seems to be for those making the most to pony up for things those who earn less because they want things beyond their ability or desire to earn for themselves.

          • jarheadgene

            YOU : On the contrary, I fully support a republic form of government in which the minorities do have a say, as opposed to an absolute democracy where 1 million plus 1 can completely over-ride 1 million.
            ME: Not what the way this country was designed. Majority
            RULES. The original Majority is now becoming a Minority
            and suddenly they want the rules to change.
            YOU: In case you have noticed, it is the Republicans that don’t see skin color or social status. They do see workers and shirkers.
            ME; Get REAL!!!! NO RACISM in the GOP…..ha ha ha.
            Shirkers vs workers. How about the biggest shirkers of
            all….Congress? IS it a shirker that gave their arms or
            legs to a war effort and then has to rely on Disability
            Benifits the rest of their lives? GOP says yes. Is it a
            shirker that is born with disabilities and cannot work or
            perform at the level of a fully capable healthy person?
            GOP says yes. Is it a shirker that works their whole lives,
            sometimes in extreme situations, for whatever wages
            the greedy boss man may have set (more often, than
            not, just above poverty level) and then expects to retire
            on the benefits set aside by Social Security (because
            most companies do not set up pensions anymore)? The
            GOP says yes.

            YOU:It sounds like your attitude that the rich are trying to protect every penny is borne solely of our desire to determine for ourselves where and how the money we earn is to be spent rather than simply handing it over to government to spent how the bureaucracy sees fit.

            ME: If you live in THIS COUNTRY….MY COUNTRY..
            PONY UP….I do, as does the entire middle class that
            can’t afford the tax loophole attys. that you and the
            Romney’s have, to help you pay less than 13% .That
            money goes to everything. The roads you use the
            bridges you drive your limos on. The armies to protect
            our country…etc….etc. Which do you love more money
            or people?

            YOU:It is not an argument about paying taxes, but about what is really a ‘fair share’. Under any system, those making the most will always be paying more than those who make less. In ever y country, including this one, the argument seems to be for those making the most to pony up for things those who earn less because they want things beyond their ability or desire to earn for themselves.
            ME: I CALL BULLSHIT !!!!! Percentage wise I am
            paying more taxes than any Super Rich person. Fair
            Share my ass. It is not like most of the super rich really
            EARNED that money. Most is inheritance, luck and the
            fact that people way OVERpay for sports and
            entertainment. YOU are making my point of loving
            money over people. Think in terms of FEMA for just one
            example of how Govt. helps all. Sorry PAL…DEATH to
            the P.O.S.G.O.P. is what I am calling for, the election of
            2012 caught them with their pants down and they have
            been exposed. I have seen people DIE right before my
            eyes in many a hospital room…..They all go down 1 of
            2 ways….in PEACE or Struggling and in Anger. Which
            are YOU ?

          • montanabill

            Point 1: Read the Constitution.

            Point 2: Racism in the GOP is seen by those who view the world through a prism of racism. A growing number of Americans who are black are beginning to realize this.

            Point 3: bogus

            Point 4: Unless you are paying over 36% on Fed taxes and just above 50% overall, you are not paying the same share as I do.

            Point 5: How the rich got their money is mostly by creating successful companies. A few are generational, but unless another member of the family is as talented as the originator of the wealth, within a few generations the wealth will be dissipated.
            FYI: The Red Cross is far better than FEMA.

  • elw

    This makes great sense. It is also deeply distrubing because it is hard to deny the truth of what is happening in this Country. But I agree with Mr. Lessig it will only happen if we let it happen.

  • montanabill

    Just so you will know this is pure conjecture on the part of the Sunlight Foundation, who ever they are, I’m in the top 1% of the top 1%. I did not contribute anywhere close to his stated ‘minimum’. I don’t work for a Fortune 500 company. I don’t live in any of American’s largest cities.

    Another tidbit to think about: if Mr. Lessig’s contention about .5% truly having the only say in how our democracy works, Barack Obama would not be President.

    • omgamike

      Not necessarily so. When push really comes to shove, what is more important to these people? Controlling who is in the White House, or controlling who gets elected to Congress? The President proposes, but the Congress must go along — or go into an entirely different direction, which they have been doing for years.

      • montanabill

        But if they truly controlled things, as the article states, they would also control who is in the White House.

    • jarheadgene

      YEHAW….Montana Bill…..one of my favorite NAY Sayers. For the most part he is correct and they did maintain control of The House. My district got sliced and diced to keep a G.O.P. Congr…that otherwise was gone. Meanwhile I lost my Democratic Congr…thanks to the slicing and dicing. Unfortunately for the UBER Rich…All their money couldn’t save Romney from himself. Do not forget Congr makes the laws the Pres merely suggests, signs or vetos. So you finally admit to being Super Rich……Remember what Jesus said….” You cannot have two Gods” you cannot worship money and God.

      • montanabill

        The Pres. is also responsible for the creation of mountains of regulations (new laws), all created without Congress. Now given a little time in retrospect, do you still think Obama is the Mr. Clean, fearless leader you thought he was or are you still buying the dream?

        To correct your misconception: you can make and have money without worshiping it. It is simply another commodity.

        • jarheadgene

          I never thought he was Mr. Clean….I am a bit of a pessimist at times, having said that, I don’t think ANYONE comes up through Chicago Politics without a little dirt. To correct you I have no misconceptions about money. I have been on both sides of millions of dollars and zero dollars. When you have it…especially lots of it, it is very easy for it to become your master. The same can be said for when you have none. It becomes that unattainable beauty queen you desire, while you are a troll. Again another way of worshipping it.
          As for Obama….I believe he is doing the best, he can, but his hands are constantly being tied and slapped by a very stupid, could care less about Americans, (heavy GOP) Congress.
          Them I have NO RESPECT for …and want them ALL OUT! Bring on 2014.

          • montanabill

            I have noticed that money usually becomes a master if you are in the ‘social climbing’ mode. That usually results in the purchase of a humongous home or homes, an ultra expensive car with little purpose (e.g. 200 mph capability on 65 mph roads), and similar stuff. Almost always, these people don’t have that much money so loans are involved. Most of the really wealthy people I know don’t really flaunt it. Yes, they will have nice homes and cars, but not outrageous. They will also have hobby items, usually those are pretty nice.

            You appear to like whatever Obama’s real agenda is. As for me, I’m very happy the Republicans are there to shine light on Benghazi, the IRS, DOJ, et all, that would be swept under the rug otherwise.

          • jarheadgene

            You have got it wrong my friend…..You know the old saying…
            “The enemy of my enemy becomes my friend.” Not fully sure what Obama’s agenda is, But I do know what it isn’t. Maybe I should take a lesson from my ancenstors; however, they befriended the Stephen Austin’s and Sam Houston’s and even the Col. Travis’s types to kick Mexico/Spain out of Texas. Only to have their own lands robbed from them and then get treated like a Second Class citizen in their own NATIVE Land. Benghazi, IRS, DOJ Please….what about 9/11? what about all the other attacks on consulates and embassies you don’t hear about during the Bush years.What about the Millions and Trillions lost during the financial melt down? Why has the middle class not recv’d raises in the last 10 years and John Hammergrand gets what is getting?

          • montanabill

            What about 9/11? The Dems were fully in control of Congress Bush’s last two years. If there was a question, why didn’t they investigate? I didn’t hear anything about those accusations at that time? Why?

            What about the money lost during the housing bubble burst? Wasn’t that bit of malarkey government at work “trying to help people”?

            You seem to be disconnected from this being Obama’s economy. It should have roared back a couple of years ago, but for government ‘help’.

            Do you mean John Hammerglen? If you don’t like his compensation, buy some McKesson stock, go to a stockholders meeting and raise h….

  • JAMES THE FIRST

    Where did you find the median income of an average American family, I can’t find it in any census or labor statistic?

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