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Bernie Sanders Doth Protest Too Much

The Vermont senator used the Tucson shooting to fill his reelection campaign coffers. But campaign finance data challenges his veracity.

by
Howard Nemerov

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January 25, 2011 - 12:00 am
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Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders wasted no time using the Tucson shooting to financially benefit his 2012 reelection campaign. From his email:

In terms of this savage shooting rampage, several points need to be made.  First, this horrendous act of violence is not some kind of strange aberration for this area where, it appears, threats and acts of violence are part of the political climate. Nobody can honestly express surprise that such a tragedy finally occurred.

Sanders continued by implying that Republicans and their business interests are set to benefit significantly in the 2012 elections:

The right-wing Republicans now leading their party are extremely confident that the political momentum is with them. They not only won decisive victories in the last election but, as a result of the disastrous Citizens United  Supreme Court decision, they correctly believe that they will have a huge financial advantage in future elections because billionaires and corporate interests can now contribute as much as they like into the political process without disclosure. …

Yes, of course they will continue their usual day-to-day efforts to give tax breaks to billionaires and cut back on programs desperately needed by the middle-class, but now they are prepared to go much further. [emphasis added]

Oxford English Dictionary defines “corporation” as “a large industrial company.” “Company” is defined as “a legal association formed to carry on some commercial or industrial undertaking.” Such undertakings are known as “business,” which OED defines as “commercial transactions or engagements; total bookings, receipts, etc.” Or “a commercial house, a firm.” The bottom line? Profit.

Some history is in order.

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 was intended to “immediately provide authority and facilities that the Secretary of the Treasury can use to restore liquidity and stability to the financial system of the United States.” It authorized the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) to spend about $750 billion of our tax dollars on banks and other financial institutions, shoring up the economy and mortgage industry.

In the House, 172 (73.2%) Democrats and 91 (45.7%) Republicans voted Yea.

In the Senate, 40 Democrats (78.4%) and 34 Republicans (69.4%) voted Yea.

To his credit, Sanders voted Nay, along with 15 Republicans and 10 Democrats. Nevertheless, Democrats were instrumental in passing this legislation.

The financial and real estate industries responded by giving 51.6% of their 2008 campaign contributions to Democrats, the first time Democrats received over 50% since 1994. These industries include corporations like Citigroup and Southwest Louisiana Land LLC.

For the 2008 election cycle, all business sectors gave Democrats a record 54.7% of total campaign contributions. Since 1996, business has been finding more friends in the Democratic Party, increasing contributions from a record low of 40.4% to 51.2% in 2010. The Democrats became the party of Big Business in their own right.

Some of the financial institutions receiving TARP money awarded their wealthy officers “billions in bonuses,” including individual “million-dollar bonuses.” For example, “JPMorgan paid out bonuses in excess of $3m to more than 200 employees.” Since the TARP money was tax dollars, this qualifies as Sanders’ “tax breaks” for very wealthy people.

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