Sep 12, 2013
The Democracy Initiative and Demos co-sponsored a Capitol Hill briefing for congressional staff on the new report "Stacked Deck: How the Dominance of Politics by the Affluent & Business Undermines Economic Mobility in America."
The report was prepared by Demos, a public policy organization fighting for equal voice and opportunity in our democracy for all. The Democracy Initiative – founded by CWA, Sierra Club, Greenpeace and the NAACP, and with a growing number of progressive partners – works to break through the barriers that are limiting our democracy: voter suppression, corporate money in politics, the broken Senate rules and the lack of a path to citizenship for 11 million immigrants.
The report documents how money affects our politics. Money talks, politicians respond, and most Americans are shut out of today's policy and political debates. The result: the donor class, which differs from the general public on core economic issues such as taxes, labor, and regulation, sets the agenda in Congress while ordinary Americans too often are forced to watch from the sidelines.
Among the report's key findings:
- Just a few dozen large donors cancel out the voices of millions of Americans. In the last election, just 32 donors to Super PACs were able to match the more than $300 million that President Obama and Governor Romney combined raised in small contributions from more than 3.7 million people.
- America's economic agenda is shaped by the already-wealthy. The wealthiest 1 percent list debt and deficits as their top priority, while the general public's main concern is jobs. The conversations by some elected officials and pundit class over the past few years has been focused on the debt and the deficit, demonstrating how government responds to the wealthy, not to the needs of the overwhelming majority of Americans.
- It's not enough that nearly 80 percent of the public supports an increase in the minimum wage to keep working families out of poverty. Just 40 percent of the wealthy support an increase, and there hasn't been any increase in the minimum wage rate since July 2009. The $7.25 hourly wage has lost a third of its value since 1968. Workers generally haven't seen any increase in real wages for 40 years.
- The anti-union attitudes of the donor class helps explain the escalating attacks on workers, their bargaining rights and their unions.
Read more here.