Tuesday, April 26, 2016
The good 1% of the 1%
Bernie Sanders has attacked Hillary Clinton for accepting money from “Wall Street billionaires.” He argues she can’t be for the 99% percent if she takes money from the 1%. The basis of his complaint is the corrupting influence of the rich. He reasons that they must expect something in return for their “investment” in a candidate; a quid pro quo return when elected to protect their wealth.
But who are the “billionaires” who are supporting HRC? What are their interests? A check of the federal election filings for PAC’s and super PAC funding reveals names of people who certainly are very wealthy. They would seem to have an interest in keeping their wealth and in investing it wisely; but not necessarily for wholely “selfish” reasons.
Yet, these women and men who contributed between $1 million and $8 million to PACs supporting her election are ALL longtime contributors to progressive causes as well as the Democratic Party. These causes included: women’s and children’s welfare and education; drug law reform; higher education in math and science; health; LGBT rights; civil rights; civil liberties; voter fairness. There are also trade unions, and entertainment figures.
Now, it is certain that these people expect a return, but probably not a quid pro quo like a tax break or de-regulation of their industry. All supported Obama and many Democratic congressional candidates — whose policies urged higher taxes on the wealthy and tighter regulation of banks, financial institutions and Wall Street. Perhaps not all civic-minded rich people are guided by narrow self-interest. (Admittedly, some of those on the list have taken advantage of the "rigged" economic system in order to gain and retain wealth. But this fact makes it even more admirable that they support policies that will diminish their wealth.)
They certainly do want to be heard and their money does give them access to power that you and I do not have. Yes, the world might be a purer place if there was no income inequality and everyone who had money gave it away to everyone who needed it. There is a political philosophy that idealizes that goal. In practice, it hasn’t worked too well when it was forced on other societies in huge gulps.
There is way too much money in the election process. Even before Citizen’s United, this was true and it gets truer every election cycle. Bernie Sanders refuses to accept “Wall Street money” and refuses to accept money from super PAC’s. Fine. He has followed Obama’s brilliant marshaling of the power of the internet and direct email to garner millions in small donations. But what happens if he wins the nomination and faces a Republican Party that smothers him with expensive ads that “define” him as they did John Kerry; if they “swiftboat” Sanders as “socialist,” “radical” and many other nasty labels (do they need to spell out “Brooklyn” and “Jew”?)
Will he . . . should he . . . turn down such support. No matter what, these people will give their financial support for candidates down the slate. The system we do have depends on people of good will to act for the civic good . . . at least as they see it.
Here are some of the filthy rich who have donated to HRC’s super PAC:
George Soros. Hungarian born billionaire from Wall Street speculation (currency trading). He has long supported liberal causes. In 2004 he funded PAC to unseat GW Bush. Now, he has donated $8 million to support HRC. His political interests have included anti-apartheid, concern about Russia and China. He is a major funder of ACLU and other groups backing constitutional rights.
James Simons, former head of Math Dept. at Stony Brook U., former CEO of Renaissance Technologies, a hedge fund that uses complex mathematical formulas for day trades. He is a billionaire, retired since 2009. He contributes to many causes: math education, autism research, etc. He is a long time supporter of the Democratic Party. Contributor to Pacs for House candidates.
Jay Robert Pritzker, of a wealthy family (Hyatt Hotels, etc), involved in philanthropy (child welfare and education, holocaust and genocide studies, et al.) and supporter of Democratic party. He was co-chair of HRC for president in 2008 and then supported Obama.
Herbert Sandler is the former CO-CEO (with his wife, Marion Sandler) of Golden West Financial Corporation and World Savings Bank. The Sandlers helped found and are among the largest benefactors of the Center for Responsible Lending, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization fighting predatory mortgage lending, payday loans, and other products that prey on consumers; the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank; ProPublica, an investigative reporting newsroom; and the American Asthma Foundation. In addition, the Sandlers or their foundation support organizations involved in medical research, the environment, human rights, and civil liberties.
S. Donald Sussman (born June 8, 1946) is an American financier and philanthropist, the Chairman of the Board of Trust Asset Management, the founder of the Paloma Funds and New China Capital Management LLC, and a member of the Board of Trustees of Carnegie Hall. Sussman has also served on the Board of Trustees of Skidmore College, the Center for American Progress and the Portland Museum of Art.
Sussman was married to Chellie Pingree, a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Maine's 1st congressional district, though Pingree announced their separation and impending divorce on September 8, 2015.
Haim Saban billionaire in entertainment (Univision, etc.) who has been a longtime contributor on issues, mostly relating to Israel. He opposed the Iran deal fearing nuclear threat to Israel.
Cheryl Saban: funds Women’s Self Worth Foundation: causes are children and women’s issues; health and welfare.
Stephen Spielberg and David Katzenberg: entertainment with long liberal Democratic interests.
Other main contributors to her PAC include:
Fair Share Action: super PAC heavily funded by Tim Gill, a computer software entrepreneur and LGBT rights activist. Also received $550,000 in seed funding from Environment America. Billionaire Tom Steyer, the National Education Association, and America Votes have also funded Fair Share Action.
Operating Engineers Union
Center for Middle East Peace: S. Daniel Abraham founded this group that provides facts supporting a two state solution.
Plumbers and Pipefitters Union
Bohemian Foundation: Pat Stryker, liberal causes in Michigan and Colorado.