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Jan
2016
19

Influence-za: Ailing Election System Features Business Interests Outspending Labor by 15-to-1 Margin

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A look at Federal Election Commission data from 2013-2014 shows that when political donors are split up into their three most basic groups — business, labor, and ideological interests — business outspends labor by a ratio of nearly 15 to 1.  

The data was analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics through their website and online resource OpenSecrets.org, which concluded that no matter which way you look at it, business interests dominate the political influence industry.  When looking at political donations that come in the form of “soft money,” the business-over-labor advantage increases to 17 to 1.  Even when looking at Political Action Committees (PACs), which are the preferred method for unions to donate, business has a three to one advantage.  

The scale of the numbers is not shocking, but the disparity between the groups might come as a surprise considering a media narrative that pits unions against corporations as if they’re on some sort of level playing field. What’s worse, right-wing legislators consistently use exaggerated claims of union political influence as a reason to limit the political power of workers rights organizations through legislation (poorly named “Right-to-Work,” paycheck protection, and bargaining transparency measures come to mind).

When you take into consideration all donations made in the 2013-2014 cycle, except for those under $200 which are not itemized, business interests accounted for 70.1 percent.  In total, 59 percent of business donations went to Republican candidates ($799,717,432) compared to 41 percent that went to Democrats ($557,921,450). Remarkably, the advantage business interests had over labor during this period was relatively reigned in compared to the 2012 election cycle, when business interests spent $2.71 billion compared to labor’s $142 million.

Numbers from past cycles can be found in OpenSecrets.org Big Picture section.   

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