When President Obama attends a political retreat funded by corporate contributions and run by top Republican lobbyists, how much influence will be on the menu?
BILL MOYERS: Everybody's been talking about that Republican retreat last weekend, where President Obama engaged his opponents in a give and take. But what you may not know is that it was organized by something called the Congressional Institute. Nice highfalutin civic bunch, you might deduce from its name. Turns out the Congressional Institute is funded by corporate contributions and run by top Republican lobbyists. There are fourteen members on its board--twelve are registered lobbyists. And the contributors to the Congressional Institute read like a who's who of corporate America. Among its benefactors have been General Motors, Lockheed Martin, Time Warner, UPS. The institute's chairman lobbies for among others, Goldman Sachs, B.P., Health Net and AHIP. That's the trade group for the health insurance industry that fought tooth and nail against the public option and brought the White House to its knees.
Now if any Democrats out there are gloating over this, I'm not finished. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee also had a cozy little retreat last weekend at a Ritz-Carlton resort in Miami Beach, which boasts "sumptuous marble baths," a spa, and a two million dollar art collection. The website Politico.com reports that in addition to prominent Democratic senators there were plenty of representatives from industries the Democrats regularly attack when they wear their populist hat: the American Bankers Association, the tobacco giant Altria, the oil company Marathon, several drug manufacturers, and the defense contractor Lockheed Martin, as well as Heather and Tony Podesta -- two of the biggest corporate spear carriers on K Street and two of the biggest Democrats in town. Very, very intimate. And very, very politically incestuous.
One final note: after the Supreme Court handed down its decision two weeks ago, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the leader of Senate Republicans, praised it from the senate floor. He dismissed the notion that the decision might allow a flood of foreign money to influence our elections. Now we learn from TalkingPointsMemo.com that Senator McConnell has received substantial funds from a subsidiary of a big foreign defense contractor that's currently being investigated by the Justice Department for bribery. Senator McConnell has been quite good to that subsidiary -- this year alone he's requested seventeen million dollars in earmarks for its Louisville facility. Yes, the sun, and the dollar signs, shine bright in Senator McConnell's old Kentucky home.
Let's face it, two political parties; equal opportunity hypocrites.
That's it for the Journal. Go to our website at PBS.org and click on Bill Moyers Journal. You can read Dr. Margaret Flowers' letter. You'll also learn how your state's laws will be affected by the recent Supreme Court decision. We'll also link you to websites where the debate rages on.
That's all at PBS.org.
I'm Bill Moyers. And I'll see you next time.