Bank Of America And Billionaires Funded Republican & Democratic Conventions
OpenSecrets.org, one of the best sites for tracking money in politics, just tallied up the major funders of the Republican and Democratic national conventions, and their findings are revealing.
No surprises with the Republicans — the ones they are beholden to for having funded their extravaganza are mostly billionaires and huge corporations.
The biggest revelations came from the Democratic Party tally. As some anticipated, unions came up short for Obama’s Convention this year. Having shelled out $8.3 million in 2008, they gave nearly 30% less.
But not to worry, Obama had taken care of one moneyed interest group who was all too happy to step up. Bank of America practically self-funded the event, underwriting approximately 1/3 of its entire expense. And just to be sure they covered their bases, Bank of America also tossed the GOP $1.1 million for theirs in Tampa.
This may provide a clue as to why bankers, whose fraudulent activities brought down the entire world economy, still seem to enjoy an unspoken immunity from any criminal prosecutions.
Small donors, incidentally, contributed a mere .00002% — not joking — of the RNC’s funds. And only 6 people — you read that right — donated between $200 and $500. Hands-down, the RNC is an event entirely funded by the wealthiest few individuals and corporations in the nation.
The Democratic Party did better with small donors, as they provided 2.5% of the DNC’s funds. And they did much better with donors contributing between $200 and $500: 1,558 contributed. Though the Democrats are still lopsidedly dependent on influence-peddlers, when compared to the Republicans’ donor list they might actually tout these numbers.
Money Behind The Two Parties’ Parties
The Republican Party, which held its 2012 convention in Tampa, FL, raised $55.8 Million. The following were some key contributors:
- Sheldon Adelson (Las Vegas casino mogul, fanatically pro-Israel) : $5 million (9% of total)
- Bill Edwards (CEO of Mortgage Investor’s Corp.): $4.6 million (8.24%)
- AT&T (in addition to $3M, gave in-kind donations for phone service): $3 million (5.4%)
- American Petroleum Institute: $2 million (3.6%)
- Microsoft: $1.6 million (2.9%)
- Bank of America: $1.1 million (2%)
- David Koch (billioinaire Koch brother): $1 million (1.8%)
- Paul Singer (Elliott Management): $1 million (1.8%)
- Robert Mercer (of hedge fund, Renaissance Technologies): $1 million (1.8%)
- Paulson & Company (hedge fund run by John Paulson): $1 million (1.8%)
- James S. Davis (chairman of shoe company New Balance): $1 million (1.8%)
- Florida Power and Light: $1 million (1.8%)
- United Health Care Services: $522,000
- American Indian tribes (2 tribes contributed): $450,000
- America’s Natural Gas Alliance: $400,000
- New York Yankees: $150,000
- Small donors (Total unitemized contributions of $200 or less): $1,200 (.00002%)
- Number of donors giving between $200-$500: Six donors
The Democratic Party, which held its convention in Charlotte, NC, raised $35 Million. The following were some key contributors:
- Bank of America: $10.9 million (31.14% of total)
- Unions: $5.9 million (17%)
- Duke Energy (lobbied H.R.910 to keep EPA from regulating emissions of green house gases): $1.5 million (4.3%)
- American Indian tribes (4 tribes contributed): $400,000
- James Rogers (Duke Energy CEO): $339,000
- Tides Foundation (partially funded by Soros’ Open Society Institute) : $310,000
- Small donors (Total unitemized contributions of $200 or less): $866,000 (2.5%)
- Number of donors giving between $200-$500: 1,558 donors
Bank Transfer Day: Simple Step-By-Step Guide To Finding A Credit Union And Ditching Your Greedy Bank
November Fifth is officially ‘Bank Transfer Day’ — a day when tens-of-thousands of Americans plan to collectively transfer all their money from the corrupt and greedy Wall Street banks to not-for-profit, cooperative credit unions.
The steps involved in this process, however, can present some potential challenges to overcome. The key to a happy November Fifth will be to get all your ducks in a row, in advance.
Here are answers to some of the most common questions, which will hopefully help to make Bank Transfer Day a seamless and politically-rewarding experience for all who participate:
Q: I am not a government employee, so would I even qualify to join a credit union?
A: YES. Each and every credit union qualifies its members based on an entirely different set of criteria.
Some credit unions are available to specific government or company employees; others are open to anyone who resides within a specific locale or county. Many are open to members of associations, to students, to college alumni, etc.
In a move to increase memberships, a number of credit unions have taken to affiliating with associations that ANYONE can join just by paying a small one-time association fee. Joining the association qualifies you to become a member-for-life at the credit union, with no obligation to even remain a member of the qualifying association.
The third largest credit union in the country, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, and GTE Federal Credit Union are two such credit unions, open to ANYONE who first pays a small fee to sign up with a qualifying association.
Where to begin: First check with your employer’s HR department (check your employee benefits folder) to see if membership to a particular credit union is an option. Or if you are a student or alumni of any college/university, check their websites (sometimes it is listed as a perk in the alumni section).
Tools you can use: A Smarter Choice and Find A Credit Union are both search tools which help you to quickly discover new credit unions you qualify for. Essentially, you query one of many different types of qualifying affiliations, including: company, city, school, university, church, association, occupation, zip code, etc.
Once you have found the credit unions you are qualified to join, go to their respective websites and compare their services, products and fees to find the one that best meets your needs.
Some things to compare: Do they offer online banking? What are their fees, if any, for checking and savings accounts? Do they have bricks and mortar locations near you? If not, do they charge fees to use other institutions’ ATM machines? Do they offer attractive CD rates, credit card rates, or auto and mortgage loan rates?
Q: Did the mortgage meltdown of 2008 affect the financial health of American credit unions? If so, should I be concerned?
A: YES. In fact federal regulators have filed multi-million dollar lawsuits against banks like Goldman Sachs for peddling toxic-mortgage securities (designated with AAA credit ratings) to credit unions, causing five large ones to fail.
Tools you can use: Credit Union Star Rankings reports the financial health of all the credit unions. This free tool is offered by Bauer Financial, an independent bank research firm which provides data used by St. Petersburg Times (creator of PolitiFact.com) for its BankWatch ratings site. **Note: Bauer recommends joining credit unions with 4-star and 5-star ratings.
Q: How is the customer service at these credit unions? Are they better or worse than corporate banks?
A: Even though credit unions as a group have a reputation for providing great customer service, every credit union is different.
Tools you can use: Google. You will DEFINITELY want to search the internet for customer reviews and ratings of the credit unions you are considering joining.
Q: I have now found the credit union I intend to join. Should I just close out my corporate bank account on November 5th, and then proceed to open my credit union account?
A: NO. VERY IMPORTANT: Find a credit union and open your account in advance of closing your bank account on November 5th. This will help you to avoid a whole host of potential headaches.
If, hypothetically, you must first enroll in a qualifying association, it could be a week or more before you can get your credit union account up and running.
If, hypothetically, the credit union you plan on joining doesn’t have a bricks-and-mortar location near you, then you’ll probably go through an online application process. Often this will require sending them, via snail-mail, an original hand-signed document. You’ll also need for them to issue you a new ATM card.
These kinds of situations can take time, leaving you without access to cash, and unable to pay monthly bills. So, first open your credit union account, then proceed to transfer the rest of the money on or before November 5th.
Other issues that should be addressed BEFORE Bank Transfer Day:
- Automatic Debits: Any monthly debits to your bank checking account — often by utility companies, mortgage companies, student loan processing companies, etc. — need to be canceled prior to closing out your account.
- Automatic Bill-Pay: If you pay your monthly bills using an online bill-paying service that uses your bank checking account as its source of funds, use your credit card or your new credit union account as your new source of funds, so that you don’t miss any payment due dates.
- Automatic deposits (paycheck): If your employer automatically deposits paychecks into your current bank account each pay cycle, be sure to instruct your HR Dept to begin depositing into your new credit union account.
On November Fifth, you should now feel confident to either march into your corporate bank and close out your account, or to sign into your new credit union’s online banking system and transfer all the money from the corporate bank (using its account# and routing#) into your new credit union account. But don’t forget that it often takes a couple business days for the money to clear, regardless of the method you use.
Nothing is more satisfying than voting your conscience with your feet and your dollars. So, here’s to November Fifth, when the banks will learn that this country is and always will be ‘for and by the people’!
In the comment section, below, I have begun to list credit unions (with decent health ratings) that will qualify members based on the area they live, work, worship, or, attend school, or as long as they pay a small fee (towards a qualifying association).
The American Left Awakens: As The Middle Class Goes, So Goes The Political Middle
It could be said that a democracy’s chosen economic model lives and dies by the prosperity of the majority. A thriving middle class has been the key stabilizing factor in American politics for generations. As such, systematic change in the United States has traditionally come slowly and incrementally.
But after a decade of zero job growth, while millions more Americans have continued to enter the labor market, they have witnessed unemployment rates rise and become fixed at levels rarely seen before. They have watched their wages drop, their cost of living rise (due in large part to high energy prices, high education costs, and runaway health care costs), and correspondingly, their quality of life erode.
The middle class is gradually disappearing from the U.S. landscape, and the ‘American dream’ is transforming into a fiction in the minds of millions.
This dream is based on an implicit agreement between the establishment and the masses, and is crucial for America’s brand of hyper-Capitalism to remain a viable economic model. It goes something like this:
If Americans work hard, and invest in a decent education, at worst they should expect a comfortable middle class existence, with prospects for future upward mobility based on merit and perseverance.
As long as this dream is deemed achievable in the minds of the majority, the political status-quo remains all-but a certainty. But the moment people stop believing it, the calls for serious systematic change begin to bubble up to the surface. And this is when the political middle dissipates.
Many economists hold that the dream actually vanished many years ago, but the establishment extended exorbitant lines of credit to Americans, which allowed them to enjoy a mirage of prosperity. In other words, a once prosperous nation on the decline became transformed into a debtor nation. But in doing so, the ‘American dream’ lived on in the minds of millions.
All it took was the massive financial meltdown of 2008, brought on by years of deregulation in the financial and mortgage industries, to pull the curtain wide open on the American dream. The collapse of the U.S. banking industry — which exposed a band of corrupted, highly-leveraged casinos masquerading as banks — rudely awakened Americans to their true state of affairs.
Twelve trillion dollars in ‘perceived’ wealth, mostly in home values, vanished into thin air. Many of those lucky enough to remain employed, found themselves under water with their mortgages. No longer able to sustain their middle class lifestyles with easy credit, consumer spending continued to dry up, and the economy spiraled even further into the doldrums.
The rationale George W. Bush and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson used to sell the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to the American public was that if taxpayers bailed out these banks, they would in turn ‘loosen’ the credit markets by lending again to businesses and consumers, which would help to stimulate investment and demand.
Instead, the banks did just about everything, BUT resume lending. Having received amazing terms from the government, they invested in no-risk, interest-bearing Treasuries — to profit off the spreads and transaction fees. They paid themselves billions of dollars in the form of bonuses. In addition, these ‘Too Big to Fail’ banks used taxpayer money to buy-out struggling competitor banks, thereby growing even bigger.
Neither TARP, nor the $16 trillion in secret Fed loans to banks (both here and abroad), loosened the credit markets. Nor did they help millions of struggling Americans to stay in their bank-foreclosed homes. What the bail-outs accomplished was to send a powerful message to Wall Street: as long as these institutions remained ‘Too Big To Fail’ they could continue to take obscene risks, because the government could be counted on to cover their losses.
The effort was branded by most to be a colossal failure — a massive transfer of wealth from the ninety-nine percent to the one percent.
As the status-quo became untenable, many Americans began to abandon the political middle — once a seemingly ‘mainstream’ place to be — and split towards each end of the political spectrum.
Exiled from government, Republicans recast themselves as Tea Partiers — an ‘AstroTurfed movement’ that blamed ‘government’ for all the country’s woes. In particular, they blamed the new Democratic-controlled government, who’d been elected to clean up their mess. These right-wingers embraced pure unadulterated corporatocracy as the solution to problems created, ironically enough, by deregulated banks and corporations.
Democratic constituents felt relieved, having ushered Barack Obama into the White House on a populist progressive ‘CHANGE’ platform, along with Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. The Left continued to place its faith in democracy — i.e. the ‘ballot box’ — as the appropriate venue for delivering change.
But once sworn in, Obama’s call for ‘Change’ insidiously shifted to a new call for ‘Bipartisanship’. He proceeded to prioritize ‘harmony’ between two diametrically-opposed parties over championing the progressive promises that got him elected.
Of course, this new ‘priority’ was merely a cover for appeasing the entrenched corporate interests. His largely-symbolic legislative victories were so watered down and corporate-friendly that they were routinely castigated by the Left. His advisers would complain bitterly how no one outside the White House would give Obama his due-credit for his ‘achievements’.
He governed like a pre-Tea Party Republican as he broke promise after promise. He proposed cuts to social security, Medicare, and Medicaid. He pushed the Bush-signed, NAFTA-like (job-exporting) trade deals which Congressional Democrats had defeated years before, and he even pressured Congressional Democrats to extend Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2%. In doing so, he grossly underestimated the populist angst that had swept him into office.
Obama’s duplicity led many of his once-energized supporters to conclude that America’s entire political process was something of a sham — that they’d once again been had.
And so they gave up waiting around for the Democratic Party to walk their talk, and took to the streets themselves in masses. On September 17, Occupy Wall Street began peacefully protesting in downtown Manhattan, and it has since spread like a forest fire into a nation-wide movement.
This huge, non-partisan, populist ground-swell blasts the Washington establishment for systematically exploiting and subjugating ninety-nine percent of Americans to appease the wealthy and powerful one-percent. The protesters demand an end to the corrupt and insidious relationship between government and corporations which perverts the very fabric of democracy.
“My biggest fear was that the Obama presidency was going to lead this generation of young people into political cynicism and political apathy,” Klein says. “But instead, they are going to where the power is. They are realizing the change is not coming in Washington because politicians are so controlled by corporate interest, and that that is the fundamental crisis in this country.”
It would appear the power-elite’s greed, corruption, and hubris has finally awakened a sleeping populist giant in the American people. And the longer the Democratic Party continues to promote policies right of center, the more those left-of-center will continue to detach from the party and the entire democratic process.
A new Washington Post/Bloomberg News Poll reveals that 44% of Democrats don’t believe the economy would get any worse should President Obama lose in 2012 to a Republican. Blue Texan from Firedoglake sums up this startling revelation:
“Let that sink in for a minute. The economy will be the number one issue in 2012 — and nearly half of the President’s own party doesn’t think it matters if he’s re-elected.”
Clearly, today’s definition of the political middle — which is where Obama loyalists contend he governs — has come to represent the painful and untenable status-quo to traditional Democratic supporters.
WATCH (Video): Footage And Interviews Of #OccupyWallStreet Protesters
RT heads downtown in New York City to cover the outrage behind the largest anti-Wall Street rally since the credit crunch:
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Why Obama’s Policies Put Wall Street’s Interests Ahead Of Main Street’s
Dan Froomkin at Huffington Post connects the dots: Many of [Obama’s] chief financial advisers have pocketed extraordinary amount of money from banks and Wall Street, and presumably intend to do so again. They are part of the banker class, and their loyalties have been bought and paid for. Examples? Obama’s top economic adviser, Larry Summers: […]