After a decade of Republicans soaking up corporate largesse in the form of donations, vacations and other assorted perks and bribes, Democrats are starting to catch the eye of these deep-pocketed givers. The Wall Street Journal’s story notes that traditional Republican backers like the insurance, pharmaceuticals and tobacco industries, are flipping their allegiances in order to sustain their sway over Congress.
“The reality is beginning to set in here,” says Greg Casey, the head of the Business-Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC), an organization of businesses dedicated to electing pro-industry candidates. Even if Republicans maintain control of Congress after the November election, their majorities in both chambers are expected to shrink. “What you couldn’t get done in 2006 will be much more difficult in 2007,” Mr. Casey says.
Considering how little has been done in 2006, it’s easy to understand why the business community is worried. Their fear has propelled them to take drastic measures – Concede that Democrats exist. In the 2004-2005 election cycle, the BIPAC gave 3.5% of its campaign contributions to Democrats. So far in 2006, that’s up to 24%.
Donations to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee this year have exceeded those to the Republican Committee for the first time in more than a decade. Since corporations are the largest slice of the campaign finance pie, this demonstrates a clear shift in party loyalty.
The industries that provide these funds claim that there is no partisan motivation to their generosity and that speculation about future legislative majorities is unfounded. Their explanations for the charitable flip-flop range from an interest to donate to those who will listen, to “coincidence.”
Somehow, coincidence doesn’t seem to tell the whole story. The Journal also cites a shift in hiring at K Street firms. The Tom DeLay era featured some of the most aggressive arm-twisting DC has ever seen in order to assure that lobbyists hire only Republicans. But recently, The Federalist Group, who had never hired a Democrat in its eight year existence, added four of them to its staff, including a former aide to Ted Kennedy.
On the one hand, this news appears to shed a positive light on the prospects of congressional leadership after November’s elections. After all, in our free market system, the flow of dollars is a pretty accurate predictor of events. And the corporations of America are the high rollers in this game. If they are betting on blue, there is a fairly good chance that blue is going to prevail. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that the corporations that have besotted the Republican party, and to no small degree led to their decline through scandal and corruption, are now wining and dining Democrats. All that the corporations and lobbyists care about is that they have an ever-available stable of fresh whores that they can use up and discard when they’re no longer pretty. Will the Dems just become the next flurry of drunken sluts seduced by money and the power it brings?
To cynics like myself, that question doesn’t really need to be asked. But, what the hell, let’s ask it anyway. Maybe by staking out a preemptive position we can forestall what we all sadly believe is inevitable anyway.
Update (8/17/06): A new WaPo article is confirming the shift in hiring on K Street: “In what lobbyists are calling a harbinger of possible upheaval on Capitol Hill, many who make a living influencing government have gone from mostly shunning Democrats to aggressively recruiting them as lobbyists over the past six months or so.”