Archive for April, 2012

Election Alert: Preview Your Ballot Before Voting!

Friday, April 27th, 2012

You may be surprised by the names you see on the ballot in this election – especially if you’re among the millions of North Carolina voters with new General Assembly and Congressional districts.

You may even get the wrong ballot – but how will you know!?!

Be prepared – preview YOUR ballot before you vote; learn how at NCElectionConnection.com. You can also call this toll-free Hotline with your questions OR if you have any problem when you vote: 866-OUR-VOTE.  That’s 866-687-8683.

And help us spread the word!


LOD: Sick for Justice

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

The multi-part series in the News & Observer about NC hospitals will make you sick. Today’s part adds the money-in-politics dimension to the profile of heartless institutions with unbelievable profit margins, hiding behind the respectable shield of non-profit charitable service. Rep. Dale Folwell, the Republican House Speaker Pro-Tem, says his effort to cap a sales tax windfall for hospitals went nowhere fast last year. “The reason this bill never got a hearing is because big money bottled it up,” he said. Today’s paper also includes an op-ed on the dangers of turning the health-care management of prison inmates over to for-profit corporations that use political corruption wherever they go to turn state resources into enormous private gain. Not that North Carolina’s non-profit hospitals do much better with prison care; the N&O shows they routinely charge the state three times their actual costs to treat sick inmates. Sure seems like a crime, but who will threaten these smiling hospital managers with a prison term?





LOD: Tax Dodgers

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Robert Reich, economist and chairman of Common Cause, has a two-minute video that shows how top corporations use their profits to manipulate the political system to reap more tax breaks and the lion’s share of productivity gains over the past several decades; Reich connects a lot of dots in 135 seconds. His themes are fleshed out in a succinct essay by Paul Buchheit on “five reasons why the very rich have not earned their money.”  With Tax Day here, it’s worth recognizing that the maze of tax laws lets corporations like Duke Energy and Wells Fargo pay Zero federal taxes. US PIRG analyzes one giant tax distortion that costs the rest of us $100 billion a year: the offshore tax havens enjoyed by eBay, Wells Fargo and others.



LOD: Contributing to Reform

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

A group of well-heeled New Yorkers are pushing the governor and legislators in that state to adopt a comprehensive public campaign financing program that parallels the successful one used in New York City’s elections. The group includes hefty political donors affiliated with both major parties. According to the New York Times, “Coalition leaders said they were prepared to spend more than $1 million promoting public financing, but they acknowledged that it could take beyond this legislative session to persuade lawmakers to embrace their proposal.” Meanwhile, a different kind of effort is underway nationally to convince political donors to divert most of their campaign contributions toward nonprofit charities. The donors would pair up across party lines and offset each other contributions, with the money going to the charity rather than the candidate. Sound far-fetched? Read the full report in the Washington Post.


LOD: Mega-Donor Profiles

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

The Charlotte Observer uses research from Democracy North Carolina for an analysis of Duke Energy’s political clout, which would grow even larger after the proposed merger with Progress Energy. “We are not apologetic about what we do in state capitals and Washington,” said Duke spokesperson Tom Williams. “We are a large player and we serve a lot of people. . . . We clearly would be very large and active players in the policy arenas in those six states (Duke and Progress serve) and Washington. Our bottom line is influenced by political policies, and we certainly offer our opinions.”  In another profile of mega-donors, CBS News looks at the contributors to Super PACs through the examples of Julian Robertson, the North Carolina native and hedge fund founder who is a major donor to Mitt Romney, and Jeffrey Katzenberg, Hollywood producer and patron of Barack Obama.


LOD: From the Horse’s Mouth

Friday, April 6th, 2012

In this hour-long production, the radio documentary “This American Life” manages to get Washington politicians and lobbyists saying the worst things possible about themselves, political corruption and the all-consuming money chase. Amazing! Who needs more evidence of the need for fundamental change? It begins with the tape of a shakedown fundraising call from a member of Congress to a developer, proceeds with similar candor through a dozen interviews, and ends with Sen. John McCain’s comments about the Supreme Court’s sarcasm and stupidity in the Citizens United case.


LOD: Oily Protection Money

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

The protection money that Big Oil doles out to politicians has paid off again in Washington. A solid majority of Americans want to end tax breaks worth over $4 billion a year for oil companies, but 43 Republicans and 4 Democrats blocked a crucial vote in US Senate last week, so the windfall continues. An analysis by Think Progress shows that Big Oil’s supporters received nearly four times the campaign donations of those standing for responsible fiscal policy. Since January 2005, US Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) has received $234,800 from oil and gas industry donors, while Sen. Kay Hagan took in $17,550. Hagan voted to end the tax subsidy, Burr voted to keep it. The New Yorker has a long story (“Gusher”) about the recent history of ExxonMobil’s remarkable political clout, but at the moment only an abstract is accessible. For details about the oil industry’s subsidies and more, see this article from OMB Watch.