By Morgan Kashinsky
I agree with the column by Christopher Trick published by the Pioneer on Nov. 28 about the opening of Amazon’s new headquarters in Long Island City. Our infrastructure, especially the Long Island Rail Road system, is not capable of supporting an influx of new commuters. I also don’t believe in subsidizing a corporation as a large as Amazon, whose CEO Jeff Bezos has the highest estimated net worth in the world, according to Forbes, especially given what many employees say are grim working conditions, and the fact that Amazon raised its lowest salary to $15 an hour, only to take away other benefits (as confirmed to CNBC via email from Amazon).
I also agree that there is nothing new about corporations forming alliances with politicians for mutual gains. However, this is not a one-party problem. Although the Right “has defended” large corporations for years, according to Trick, he has it wrong that corporations are simply the backbone of the Democratic Party.
Since the 2016 election cycle, we have seen a wave of Democratic candidates swear off Political Action Committee (or PAC) donations. For example, during this past election, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand swore off accepting donations from PACs of for-profit companies. New Jersey Senator Corey Booker did as well. California Senator Kamila Harris also stopped taking corporate PAC donations. Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D, NY) also rejected all corporate PAC money, and won. This is a short list of politicians in the Democratic Party who see the problem, and strive to do better and get big money out of politics.
If you were to check the donor lists of Republican presidential candidates, you would see that Morgan Stanley’s PAC donated over $600,000 to George W. Bush during the 2004 election cycle, and also donated over $470,000 to Hillary Clinton’s campaign in the 2016 cycle, according to OpenSecrets.org.
Neither political party has been immune to corporate donations. But how are politicians on the Right and Left now deciding to handle fundraising?
Because the Democratic Party base is becoming more liberal, they are beginning to hold their candidates to a higher standard. In fact, presumed next House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cali) announced that the first thing on the Democratic agenda for the House would, in fact, be campaign finance reform legislation. I will be very surprised to see conservatives in either the House or Senate work in a bipartisan manner with the Democrats on this goal; the Republicans also rely heavily on corporate PAC money for their campaigns but have generally been much less outspoken on the issue.
As the candidate who raises the most money is often the winner of their election, it is important to curtail corporate donations, and return more of the electoral power to the people. This does not have to be and should not be a partisan issue. The Left is starting to take notice… Is the Right? The invitation for collaboration on campaign finance reform has been open for some time.