The Presidential Debates have been scheduled and their formats and topics have been chosen for the 2012 Presidential Election season.
I always look forward to these Presidential Debates because we get to see what the candidates are going to say and they are put on the spot, and face to face, with all of the political rhetoric that they have been firing at each other for months. Not only do they have to answer the questions that are presented by the debate moderator they often slip these other counter points into their responses. More often than not it seems to draw the presidential candidates into a more real and genuine response instead of those that are tailored by their publicist.
The Republicans have Mitt Romney as their candidate this year and I really do not feel that he is going to be up to the challenge of truly and honestly competing with President Obama at the podium. These Presidential Debates should be very interesting and unless Mitt Romney begins to truly solidify his platform beyond the catch phrases he is going to be in a world of trouble come these Presidential Debates.
I have discussed these Presidential Debates with many others and they seem to feel that though President Obama will likely dominate the Presidential Debates they are not going to be nearly as interesting as they might have been with Rick Perry or Herman Cain. Both of which have incredibly interesting personalities which may have been far more entertaining. What are your thoughts on these debates?
Regardless of who you are supporting in the upcoming elections it is important to watch these as they should help you forge your opinions come the general election. Mitt Romney is going to have to get studying and practicing for these debates because he is going up against a skilled and seasoned challenger who many agree is a master of debating.
2012 Presidential Debate Information
The Commission on Presidential Debates has announced the formats for the 2012 presidential and vice presidential debates, each of which will be 90-minutes long. Moderators will be selected in August.
First presidential debate: October 3, University of Denver, Colorado: Domestic issues, questions selected by moderator.
Vice presidential debate: October 11, Centre College, Danville, Kentucky: Domestic and foreign issues, questions selected by moderator.
Second presidential debate: October 16, Hofstra University, Hampstead, N.Y.: Town-hall meeting format with questions from undecided voters.
Third presidential debate: October 22, Lynn University, Boca Raton, Florida: Foreign issues, questions selected by moderator.
Make sure to tune and and watch these important debates Presidential Debates. We often get some real insight into what and who these presidential candidates are and what their platforms and plans are for the United States of America for the next four years. Even more importantly, we often see who is not going to be up to the challenge of being the President of the United States.
None of us like to think that the millions of dollars spent by presidential campaigns are trying to buy your vote. However, that is in fact the case. So I thought I would take a minute to look into what a vote costs in America today. I was shocked, and I think you will be too, so I’ll try and ease you into this a bit. Politics have changed dramatically in the time after the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.
The Supreme Court’s decision on Citizens United basically removed all caps on contributions from corporations and unions to political campaigns. It has been widely accepted through our history that money influences politics, corrupts democracy, and takes the power from the people and puts it in the hands of those with money. The Supreme Court’s decision put democracy more firmly into the hands of the corporations by allowing unlimited spending on elections.
Spending on elections was out of control before this decision, and now it’s incomprehensible, it’s a joke, and we the people are the punch line.
There are a few things we need to know about making a rough guess about the amounts of money being spent to win your vote. In most cases they can’t actually trade money directly for your vote, so instead they use advertising, media, new outlets,, pundits, the internet, you name it, to get their message and their brand out to you. Unfortunately there is very little regulation regarding the insane and often false things they say to sway you one way or another. When there is regulation, they will get around it by using a 501c/PAC combination to absolve any involvement and responsibility. If you think this is a joke, watch this series masterfully done by Stephen Colbert of the Colbert Report. He actually creates his own PAC, then turns it into a Super PAC, and ends up with a million dollars donated. Really.
How Money Corrupts Congress--and a Plan to Stop It
PACs have to disclose who gives them money. However, a 501c is a tax-exempt organization that does NOT have to disclose donors. All a person or corporation need do to circumvent the disclosure rules is contribute money to the 501c. The 501c then gives to the PAC and the PAC does what it wants with the money. It’s money laundering on a breathtaking scale. A candidate could pour money into the 501c and get it right back through the PAC. Sickening and totally legal.
So now that we know how it’s done, let’s see how much money it takes to buy a vote. That’s what all the money is ultimately there to do. I’ve rounded the numbers for ease of understanding. A few thousand here or even a few million there will not make much of a difference in our completely broken election system where billions of dollars are involved.
In 2010, it is estimated that there were about 236,000,000 registered voters. According to this data, we can estimate that the registered voters will increase to 240,000,000 in 2012. Going by prior voter turnout numbers, we can expect 50% or so to turn out to vote in the upcoming Presidential Election. This gives us the first part of our equation: 120,000,000 votes.
How much money is going into getting those 120 million votes? This number is difficult, because campaigns want to keep this number as quiet as possible. So first we’ll look at how much the politicians are raising themselves. This is required to be publically disclosed and it is the number most often reported. Over the last year we can see that a total of almost $380,000,000 was raised by politicians. We can assume that over the next 6 months the money will flow in faster than in the last year. It is probably conservative to say that this total will reach $800,000,000 by November. Many analysts are saying that campaign spending will easily break a billion dollars. But we’ll use $800 million for our calculations.
Next we need to try to determine the contributions to PACs and Super PACs. They are required by law to disclose their finances, but with over 7,500 listed in the Federal Election Committee’s database, there are bound to be errors. To make it easy, we’ll use this information. You can find the information here: http://www.fec.gov/finance/disclosure/srssea.shtml. Adding it all up gets us $1.7 billion from 2010 to 2011. For ease of calculation, we’ll round that number down to $1.5 billion to use for 2011-2012. This gives us $3.2 billion for these two years of PAC and Super PAC fundraising.
With no cap on how much money can be contributed to an election, candidates are looking at three to four times the amount of money they had to spend in the past. They can spend the majority of it on sleazy ads, misinformation campaigns, robo calls, spamming, and whatever else it takes. And the best part is, the candidates are “completely separated” from the PACs and Super PACs. If someone gets offended or if an ad backfires, the candidate can throw up their hands and claim plausible deniability.
$800,000,000 (candidate money) + $3,200,000,000 (PAC money) = $4,000,000,00 or a cool 4 billion dollars. Easy to remember.
Now all we need to do is take the money spent on elections and divide that by those who vote. Gravy!
$4,000,000,000 (Money) ÷ 120,000,000 (Votes) = $33 and change.
Well that doesn’t sound too bad, you have 33 bucks don’t you? So to put in your equivalent support as a citizen of the United States you should toss $33 to who you support.
The problem is that it doesn’t work out that way. Our democracy is supposed to form and control our government on a 1 to 1 basis, but now with these new rules we are getting further and further away from the 1 to 1 vote working.
Rich Joe used to be capped at a $2,500 donation. But now he can give his $2,500 personally to the campaign and can also funnel in $1,000,000 or more from his company, trust fund, dividends or whatever.
Money equals influence in our government, and the increased flow of money from corporations and unions magnifies their influence.
Influence of Donations Before Citizens United
Poor Joe throws in $33 to support his one vote. Rich Joe throws in his $2,500 to support his vote. Rich Joe’s influence on his candidate is 75 times more than Poor Joe’s. That in itself shows the system was sad, broken, not working as intended.
Influence of Donations After Citizens United
Today Poor Joe throws in his $33 again to support his candidate. Rich Joe throws in his $2,500 and also donates $1,000,000 dollars from his company. Again, Rich Joe’s influence is obviously more, but by how much? His influence is now a staggering 30,378 times more than Joe’s! This one person/entity now has tens of thousands of times more influence than Poor Joe in the elections.
I don’t even know what to think about this. I am disgusted. I am appalled. I am horrified that we allowed this to happen to our country.
Checkbook Democracy: How Money Corrupts Political Campaigns
With these billions of dollars intended to influence us, and with the mountains of lies about their opponents, and false promises about themselves, it is no wonder our government and our country is screeching to a halt.
We have allowed democracy to be taken away from us. We have literally sold it. We have allowed a plutocracy to take its place.
When the wealthy control the country they do whatever they can to not only increase their wealth but consolidate it. That is exactly what we are seeing now.
With the caps lifted, they can literally spend whatever it takes to convince us they are not doing exactly what they are doing. The facts are in front of us. I have presented many here and you can look for yourself all over the place. We are swimming in the evidence of the fall of our democracy but so many would rather drown than to think about this.
This cannot endure or our country will not. We have already fallen behind because of our broken and crippled system. We are being surpassed by many other countries in almost every sector you can think of. The power has been taken from the common people. We are simply being outbid.
It’s time you did your part along with those around you to stand up, speak out and shout out that you want your vote back and demand it can’t be outbid anymore.
It boggles the mind and is unsettling and unfair to think about. However, the fact is that the average American will pay more taxes then one of the largest companies in the world. The worst part of all of this is that they are not the exception, but the rule. In fact the corporate tax code in America is so full of tax breaks and loop holes that very few corporations actually pay any taxes. Not only do these multibillion dollar companies barely pay any taxes if any at all, many actually receive huge subsidies and other income from the government (taxpayers).
It is true that America has one of the highest combined tax rates in the world for businesses. But what they fail to tell you is that the American tax code is so full of loopholes that it is doubtful that any company without a dedicated tax department ever pays close to this amount.
The companies that end up getting shafted are the small business owners and entrepreneurs that do not know how to exploit the tax code that we currently have in America.
The company [GE] reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, and said $5.1 billion of the total came from its operations in the United States.
Its American tax bill? None. In fact, G.E. claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.
And while these huge corporations are reaping billions of dollars in profits without having to pay a cent, they are also being paid by the American government, and in some cases billions more per year! And while the tax breaks continue for the wealthiest corporations, so does the lobbying for deregulation and further tax breaks. The wealthiest 2% of Americans force the other 98% of hard working Americans to pay not only their share but the shares owed morally and equitably by the corporations in this country and the wealthiest 2% of Americans!
How Big Money and Corruption Conquered Our Government
How would you feel if your filthy rich uncle sent a limo to your house to pick you up, then the limo took you to the airport and flew you in a private jet across the country where you met your obscenely wealthy uncle for a five star dinner, drinks and after-dinner entertainment, and when the night was over he handed you the bill for the entire trip. Then he told you that you had to pay for all of this right now or he would take your house, close down your business, keep your kids from getting any education and ensure that you spent the rest of your life digging for scraps in a dumpster for a chance for something to eat. What would your reaction be?
I really do hope it is one of anger, disgust and astonishment.
That is exactly what is happening in America right now and we are not even getting the fancy night out! You, me, your mother, sister, aunt and son are being forced to pay for this indulgence. We and our family, friends, and neighbors have lost their homes, their jobs, and hope. Now we have lost our basic, constitutionally granted rights and they’ve been transferred to corporate entities.
This is really what we have come to? We cannot suffer these injustices any longer.
How do they continue? How does such devastation to our well-being happen right under our noses? Much of it is due to the many news organizations that are now owned by these mega conglomerations. Much of the once free press-style news is now gone. Honesty and truth is overwritten by ratings and corporate and political talking heads. The few truly free press sources remaining in America are now under attack by these powerful corporations.
How Corporate Greed and Brain-Dead Politics are Selling Out America
This is allowed to continue because time after time the political seats are given to those with powerful corporate influence such as Jeffery Immelt. A leader of President Obama’s Job Creation Task Force, and as CEO of GE, Immelt not only kept GE from paying any US taxes in 2010, he has also managed to cut American jobs and ask thousands of workers for major concessions. The hypocrisy and the blatant disregard for the very people he is supposed to manage is absolutely wrong. How can this in any way actually help the American people to recover from the crisis these corporations put us in?
Let’s start purging these corporate influences out of Washington. Let Washington know we as the American People are paying attention and we are disgusted by how completely we have been taken advantage of. By speaking up, by speaking out and spreading the word that we will no longer sit idly by while we are cheated out of everything we have worked so hard for.
Send a message to Jeffery Immelt and send a message to Washington. We cannot abide this anymore. We must stand up and shout loud that We the People will no longer bend over for any corporate interest.
Join Progressives United in petitioning to have Jeffery Immelt removed from his position. This is not only a call to have him removed but a sign that we can stand unilaterally against corporate corruption and abuse.
News broke last week that General Electric, America’s largest corporation, made $14,200,000,000 in profits last year and paid $0 in taxes — that’s right, zero dollars in taxes. At the same time, C.E.O. Jeffrey Immelt saw his compensation double. Now I hear that GE is expected to ask 15,000 of their unionized workers to make major concessions in wages and benefits.
But what really adds insult to injury is the prestigious and influential position Jeffrey Immelt holds as chair of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
That’s wrong. Someone like Immelt, who has helped his company evade taxes on its huge profits — and is now looking to workers to take major pay cuts after his compensation was doubled — should not lead the administration’s effort to create jobs.
The madness continues as the Republican Governor of Wisconsin ups the ante stating that if none of the fourteen state Democratic Senators return to vote on this widely unpopular bill he will lay off 1500 people to make up for the budget deficit due to the stalled bill. This is absolutely ridiculous and I hold that those in Wisconsin keep faith and stay strong with standing up for their rights as workers and citizens of this country.
It continues to boggle my mind that such extremes had to be taken to stop a bill that is largely opposed but due to pass the state Senate because of the Republican majority. This perfectly illustrates how our system is broken and why we need something in place to make the politicians immediately liable and accountable for their wishy-washy and often times unpopular voting records. Their job is to represent the people’s will and the politicians need to be held to account when they vote and work against the peoples will such as it is in this case.
Eliminating Collective Bargaining Rights for State Unions
As you may know, one way the legislature in Wisconsin is seeking to reduce its budget deficit is by passing a bill that would take away some of the collective bargaining rights of most public unions, including the state teachers’ union. Would you favor or oppose such a bill in your state?
% In Favor
% that Oppose
% No Opinion
New York Times Poll
Americans Weigh in on Labor Unions and Public Employees
Collective bargaining refers to negotiations between an employer and a labor union’s members to determine the conditions of employment. Some states are trying to take away some of the collective bargaining rights of public employee unions. Do you favor or oppose taking away some of the collective bargaining rights of these unions?
Oppose to Eliminating Worker Rights
In Favor Eliminating Worker Rights
No Opion on Worker Rights
What is at stake here are the workers basic rights to a fair and honest work place. Worker unionization is creating a democratic work environment. If a bill was introduced to limit our freedoms and our right to the Democracy of the United States of America it would be laughed right out the door. It would be hailed as a traitorous, treasonous act and would never, ever have a chance to come to a vote.
Most of the American working people have quietly allowed our workplaces to become dictatorships. For some reason we are OK with this but we shouldn’t be. We just sit back quietly and let employers dictate how our working conditions are, what we will get paid and what authoritarian rules we must follow. Over the recent years of deregulation and degradation of civil rights we have increasingly given ground quietly and calmly. We have allowed the corporate interests to wash over our own peoples personal interests both politically and personally. The last line of defense is, ironically, our very first right to be able to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Taking away this from public workers is not only wrong and shameful, all the people in American need to understand this is a constitutionally protected right. Everyone needs to exercise this right. We need stand up and stand proud.
It’s time all American workers stand up for their rights and what is right for America. Stand behind the Democratic Senators of Wisconsin. Stand behind the teachers, fire fighters, police officers and the many other public workers that keep our nation going.
When they threaten to fire 1,500 hard working every day American people you ask them why these Americans must lose their jobs when these very same Republics brought our national government to a standstill because they would not give up their huge tax breaks. These very same tax breaks, should they have expired, would have flooded both the federal and state governments with long overdue funds which would have put our country on much sounder footing.
Instead the wealthiest 1% of people get to hang onto their tax breaks and loopholes while the rest of the 99% of American people pay for these tax cuts with our own stagnant and oftentimes dwindling salaries. They can’t seem to afford a tax break but they ask us to lose our jobs, lose our houses and lose our pride in a county that is supposed to be the land of prosperity but is showing ruin to millions of American’s.
Shout back, stand up and go protest. Sign petitions, participate in polls but most importantly get involved. Organize on Facebook, tweet or whatever your representatives and make sure they hear that America’s people are sick and tired of the ridiculous politico environment and they, we, I, demand that things turn around for us, the 99% of the country that is getting the short end of the stick. Raise the taxes back to pre-Reagan years on the wealthiest of Americans. Let the last 30 years of tax breaks come flooding back into our Country so we can rebuild and become the America that 99% of us want it to be.
The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.
Does it shock and disgust you that the Democrats in Wisconsin were forced to literally ditch the vote to stop the passage of the anti-union legislation in the senate? It should.
What was shocking? This legislation was introduced as a way to make a not only an attempt to balance the state a budget but also has a veiled attempt to destroy the bargaining power of state employees in their union.
What was so disgusting? It boggles my mind that they have the audacity to look to the teachers, firefighters and police to make major sacrifices when the Republicans themselves will not even concede to allow the tax cuts for the most wealthy (Make over $250,000 a year) in America to expire.
There is something fundamentally wrong asking someone to give up their basic civil rights when you yourself will not agree to a more equitable tax rate.
Find plenty of stories on this amazing turn of events here: Google Search
First we must not, cannot, give up any more of our collective bargaining rights. We as a people must not bow to the politico forces and there strange and often times convincing spin. We as a people must always keep our fundamental rights in the foreground and make decisions based off those first. We are a nation built on, and dependent on, its people. If we fail our people, America will fail.
By the people, for the people.
This constitutionally protected right must be maintained at all costs. Look at what happened with the breaking of the unions for airline pilots. They at one time made good money. Many smart, qualified people pushed hard to get into the field. This gave us an airline industry full of proud, well qualified pilots who did nothing else but focus on being a good quality pilot. This made the flying safer, more secure and attracted high end talent to this important industry.
Now the only pilots that fly are those that do it simply because they love it or did not realize how little they would be paid and how much they would have to work due to the lack of being unionized. Many are forced now to have second jobs and take double shifts just to make ends meet.
Doing that here would do the same thing by gutting the very infrastructure of Wisconsin. Do you really want only the desperate and ignorant to become the next set of teachers, firefighters and police officers? Even those that are willing to work for nothing will likely be forced out of that career due to simple financial requirements to survive. These are the people that should be paid well. They are the ones that keep America strong. Not the other way around.
Besides this argument to retain a strong foundation to our society, it can also be considered illegal and unconstitutional.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Secondly, if the wealthiest 1% of American’s are not willing to give up the massive tax breaks, fighting tooth and nail to retain the inequitable tax breaks, how can they ask the rest of America to make such sacrifices that lead to un employment, losing their homes and even death. So many Americans are already without health insurance, this would just force more there. Some would most certainly die simply because they were unable to afford health insurance.
So they want the people to give up all of these things in exchange for the wealthiest 1% to have a better tax break? That makes me sick. It should make you sick.
The bottom line is I fully support the Democratic Senators of Wisconsin and their unorthodox but effective fighting of this unjust bill. I wish them the best and hope that their actions open the eyes of all of the people in America to the continued assault on our prosperity.