The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

VIEWPOINT: Campaign contributions corrupt government policy

What ever happened to “Yes we can?”

The exciting “change” that so many of us hoped for after the November 2008 election has ground to a screeching halt.

And it is largely the fault of Congress.

Members of the House and Senate have blocked forward movement on such critical issues as addressing climate change, reforming the college student loan process, fixing the health care system, regulating big banks and examining the ethical lapses of their own members.


The short answer is money, money, money and more money — the huge campaign contributions given to politicians by representatives of energy companies, oil and gas corporations, health insurers, pharmaceutical companies, financial institutions, banks, student loan companies and more.

• Since 1990 big banks, real estate and financial companies have contributed $2.2 billion to federal campaigns.

And in only the last year — as Congress debated the need for new regulations — the industry gave $42 million more in campaign contributions.

• A recent USA Today editorial concludes: “A wealth of evidence suggests that the way to get a defense contract is to hand over thousands of dollars to influential lawmakers’ campaigns” (November 16, 2009).

• In the last three months, the top 13 health insurers spent nearly $8.2 million dollars to influence Congress.

And House members voting “no” on reform received $2.3 million more in health insurance campaign donations than others.

• Sallie Mae – a major student loan lender – has spent more than $5.8 million to fight a bill that would invest $50 billion in new programs for higher education.

• Since 1990, oil and gas interests have donated $245 million to federal campaigns.

And to make matters even worse, the Supreme Court is soon expected to lift the 100-year-old ban on unlimited corporate contributions, unleashing a flood of additional special interest money into the political system.

What can you do?

The Democracy Matters chapter at Marquette is part of a national coalition of groups fighting to get big money out of politics and people back in.

We want young people to be able to run for office and politicians to listen to voters, not bankers — as is already happening with “Clean Elections” public campaign financing laws in states like Connecticut, Arizona, North Carolina and New Mexico.

Want to learn more about how you and other students can have a voice on the issues that affect you?

Contact Democracy Matters at Marquette University by emailing Claire Niemet or Eric Pond at [email protected] and [email protected].

Students have always been at the forefront of the most important changes in our country — from civil rights and environmental protection to peace and women’s rights. We played a huge part in the 2008 election.

Now we need to step up and raise our voices again. Because working together, yes, we can!

Claire Niemet and Eric Pond are both seniors in the College of Arts & Sciences.

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