Roundup: Energy Challenges for Obama, NRA-Backed Dems and Political War Profiteering

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Political War Profiteers: 20 Consulting Firms Churn 80 Percent of Super PAC Cash: “Of the $620 million that super PACs doled out during the 2012 campaign cycle, records filed with the Federal Election Commission as of Dec. 6 reveal that 80 percent was spent through just 20 consulting firms. As the graphic above illustrates, a tightly interwoven network of Washington insiders reaped the biggest benefits of Citizens United and subsequent decisions that gave rise to a new class of outsider-insiders who have become a new political establishment.” [Sunlight Foundation]

Democratic candidate for North Dakota's U.S. Senate seat Heidi Heitkamp speaks to supporters early Wednesday morning Nov. 7, 2012, in Bismarck, N.D.. As votes continue to be counted, Heitkamp has a slim lead over Republican challenger Rick Berg. Berg has not conceded. (AP Photo/Will Kincaid)

Meet the NRA-Backed Senate Democrats Who Oppose Obama’s Gun Violence Prevention Plan: “[A] group of Senate Democrats, all of them highly rated by the National Rifle Association, are refusing to say if they support the President’s reform package.” [ThinkProgress]

Can These New Federal Rules Rein in Foreclosure-Frenzied Banks?: “Servicers, which collect mortgage payments from borrowers and work out terms of a loan, are supposed to explore all alternatives to foreclosure before reclaiming a home, and to give homeowners a fair and clear evaluation process. But as millions of borrowers fell behind on payments in the wake of the financial meltdown, loan servicers got slammed by tons of added legwork and administration, and many more got perverse incentives to fast-track borrowers into default.” [Mother Jones]

The United States Needs to See the Doctor: “The study enumerates other key, if unsurprising, factors in our shortness of life. ‘Americans are more likely to find their health care inaccessible or unaffordable,’ it concludes. ‘Americans benefit less from safety net programs that can buffer the negative health effects of poverty and other social disadvantages.'” [The Washington Post]

Keystone XL Pipeline, Climate Change Among Second-Term Energy Challenges for Obama: “President Barack Obama’s second-term energy agenda is taking shape and, despite the departure of key Cabinet officials, it looks a lot like the first: more reliance on renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, and expanded production of oil and natural gas. Obama also is promising to address climate change, an issue he has acknowledged was sometimes overlooked during his first term.” [Associated Press ]

Obama Promise to Raise Middle Class Living Already Seen in Peril: “Most Americans started this year with a cut in take-home pay as Congress let a temporary 2-percentage-point reduction in payroll taxes expire. Workers’ own leverage to gain wage increases will be limited for years by competition from the swollen ranks of jobless Americans as forecasters expect the unemployment rate to remain at or above 7 percent through 2014.” [Bloomberg News]

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