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With election season upon us it's very easy to see the impact special interests have on our nation's politicians. Elected leaders in Washington make this fact especially obvious to see, though not purposefully. At this point, not only is it visible in the president, but after so many debates it is starting to become evident on the part of Republicans. Money and power guides not just who they are polite to, but also what promises they make and the flip flops they make while still campaigning even. One moment they may say something leading voters to believe they stand firmly against an issue, and later on they may soften their rhetoric on the issue or information emerges either contradicting the initial statement or placing what they said in a hypocritical light.
We watched President Obama during the 2008 campaign. He told us about how closely he would stick to the Bush timetable for withdrawal from Iraq over and over. Once in office he actually tried to extend it with no emergency or crisis provoking such a move. He promised to stay in Afghanistan until the mission of finding Bin Laden and bringing him to justice was complete, then we would stop wasting money there and re-invest it in the home front. He found Bin Laden and killed him in May of this year, yet he plans to keep troops there and us paying for them to be there until 2014.
He promised to go after people on Wall Street responsible for the sub-prime mortgage crisis responsible for the current worldwide economic turmoil we all find ourselves in. His appointees have yet to charge any of the people on Wall Street and are just getting around to Fannie May and Freddie Mac. He criticized the Bush Administration for not being more vocal about oppression of dissenting voices in Middle Eastern nations with leaders at the time considered friendly to us. When he had his opportunity during the Arab Spring he hesitated in some places and even remained silent in others. He said no-bid contracts would not be tolerated on his watch and once in office handed them out as though nothing had changed.
Republican contenders debating during their many appearances have also shown some signs of hypocrisy and flip flop related to special interests. Not to pick on any one as there isn't even a set candidate yet, but Newt Gingrich has talked about the president's health care bill passed in 2010 and has been critical of the mandated health care saying it is unconstitutional. However, as the Washington Post pointed out, “In 1993, the former speaker appeared on NBC’s 'Meet the Press,' saying: 'I am for people, individuals — exactly like automobile insurance — individuals having health insurance and being required to have health insurance.'
“'Gingrich reiterated that point in 2005 during an interview on NPR’s 'Talk of the Nation.'
“'Our goal has to be for 100 percent of the country to be in the insurance system,' he said. 'So that means finding ways through tax credits and through vouchers so that every American can buy insurance, including, I think, a requirement that if you’re above a certain level of income, you have to either have insurance or post a bond.'” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/newt-gingrichs-changing-stance-on-health-care-mandates-fact-checker-biography/2011/12/09/gIQAVl0lkO_blog.html)
Also, as the Christian Science Monitor Points out, “In 2008, Gingrich suggested in a Fox News interview that then-presidential candidate Barack Obama should have to return campaign contributions he had received from executives of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.” Yet, “Newt Gingrich found himself on the defensive [...] over huge payments he received over the past decade from the federally backed housing agency Freddie Mac. Gingrich said he didn't remember exactly how much he was paid, but a former Freddie Mac official said it was at least $1.5 million for consulting contracts stretching from 1999 to 2007.” (http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Latest-News-Wires/2011/1116/Ex-Freddie-Mac-official-said-Newt-Gingrich-paid-1.5-million-for-consulting)
Mitt Romney also criticized the president's healthcare plan, yet the president actually took parts of his health care plan from one former Governor Romney signed off on dubbed 'Romneycare' when Romney was Governor of Massachusetts. He also has been very critical of the pieces of the stimulus the president was involved in, yet he endorsed a financial stimulus in 2009. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/mitt-romney-flip-flopper-or-not/2011/11/30/gIQAH6ubEO_blog.html)
Michelle Bachman said in October regarding military budget cuts, “'We can’t do that to our brave men and women who are on the ground fighting for us.'” (http://thenewamerican.com/usnews/politics/9952-gop-leaders-refuse-to-support-pentagon-budget-cut) Yet back when defense cuts were popular with the Tea Party and they were still having tons of money poured into them, she “unveiled a plan for cutting $400 billion in federal spending that includes freezing Veterans Affairs Department health care spending and cutting veterans’ disability benefits.” (http://www.armytimes.com/news/2011/01/military-michele-bachmann-veterans-budget-cuts-012811w/)
Health care reform means big business and all those that have favored it know, though it is a political minefield, it means money from big business, specifically Big Pharma. Continuing the wars means big money from defense contractors, security contractors, tangential contracting that accompanies war zone spending today. Stimulus money into the coffers of big Wall Street firms also means money from large financial giants. When we say “money from” we are talking campaign contributions of course, and most of them are floundering around desperately for it.
Perhaps that explains why our system is so broken and is no longer serving us – the little guy – anymore. Half of Congress is made up of millionaires. (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/11/19/half-congress-enjoys-millionaire-status-study-shows/) So when it comes to decisions that effect the bottom line of the nation's wealthy, which are a very small percentage of overall Americans, half of them are looking at their own bottom lines in those bills and proposed pieces of legislature. That's why no matter the talk or who is in office, black, white, male or female, big money always seems to win out. It benefits those in Congress in more than one way to ensure they do.
But this is nothing new. We know this. In a recent poll Americans expressed this view. As an editor for polling company Gallup stated, “the majority of Americans say whether it's a Democrat or Republican at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., it's going to be a minor or no difference at all, in terms of solving the country's economic problems.” (http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/attitude-check/attitude-check-who-do-you-trust) People on Wall Street are doing great after the crash, and most wealthy corporations are just getting wealthier. The question is going forwards over the next few decades, what are we – the little guy - going to do to stop being taken advantage of that way? (BTW it might help to note all the candidates listed previously are all millionaires.)
To read about my inspiration for this article go to www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com.