Big business lobbying hurts politics

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This year’s midterm elections signal an important time for politicians as a Republican congress will fight to hold their majority. For Republican mega donor Charles Koch, this midterm election will cost between $300-$400 million in lobbying and funding congressional campaigns. 

According to ABC News, these figures are a 60 percent increased compared to what the organization spent in the 2016 election. Tim Philips, president of Americans for Prosperity, the main political arm of the network, said that the organization had already spent $20 million of that amount lobbying in favor of the recent Republican tax bill. The group plans to spend another $20 million to “sell” Americans on the new reform package. 

The shattering numbers call into question the large donor amounts, and the impact of various groups lobbying for Congress. The Koch brothers network, which plans to spend millions to keep Republicans in power, pointedly declined to support Donald Trump in the 2016 election, according to Mercury News the network, eyed his “brand of populism warily.” 

The Trump administration, and its antics are worrying to the network’s donors, as there is “quiet exasperation and palpable concern that the president’s reality-TV antics and racially charged statements could wind up generating a backlash that taints their brand and sets back their cause,” writes Mercury News. 

Sunday, large groups of political “investors” flocked to a Koch network seminar to meet political candidates, listen to speeches and commit to contribute at least $100,000-per-year to Koch linked groups. 

This might be the most the Koch foundation has spent on elections, but according to The Atlantic, corporation today spend around $2.6 billion a year on reported lobbying expenditures. “This has fundamentally changed how corporations interact with government, and rather than trying to keep government out of its business (as they did for a long time), companies are now increasingly bringing government in as a partner, looking to see what the country can do for them”, the Atlantic article writes. 

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However, there is a fine line between lobbying for the people, and lobbying for the corporation. The Koch foundation is lobbying for a path that protects Dreamers (DACA recipients) and supports immigration opportunities. “Immigration is a good thing,” said Brian Hooks, president of the Charles Koch Foundation during a Q&A session with reporters. “We cannot support a policy that arbitrarily reduces the number of people who might come to the country to contribute and ending the family migration policy in the absence of an alternative does that,” he added. 

An example of bad lobbying was in 2009, when the New York Times revealed that Sallie Mae had hired Tony Podesta and Jamie Gorelick, two Democratic fixers, to save it from being ended. Sallie Mae insures college loans made by private banks, and according to Newsweek, embodies the principle of privatizing and socializing losses and eliminating it would save $94 billion, providing funds for millions more students to go to college. 

Corporations, like the Koch foundation, and the funds that they possess, have a large amount of input in the government and the policies they put forward. With millions of dollars going to fund bills and programs, it is imperative that those companies, and the people they represent, recognize the power they hold in the influence of the American system.