Money Rules Politics? Robert Samuelson Busts That ‘Myth’

It’s possible that someone could write a column arguing that efforts to restrict the influence of big money on our political system do more harm than good. Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson tried to pull it off on Monday (2/20/12), but the results were pretty ugly.

You don’t need to read the whole column. All you need to read is his “Myth One,” which appears about halfway through the piece:

Myth One: The rich and corporate interests rule government through campaign contributions and lobbying.

This is absurd. In 2009, $2.1 trillion (60 percent) of federal spending went for “payments for individuals.” This included 52.5 million people receiving Social Security; 46.6 million on Medicare (many of the same people); 32.9 million on food stamps; 47.5 million on Medicaid; 3.9 million with veterans benefits. Almost all these benefits go to the poor and middle class. Meanwhile, the richest 5 percent of American pay 44 percent of federal taxes.

Does this look like government for the rich?

So to summarize: No, corporations and the wealthy don’t work the system to their benefit, because there is still a Social Security program. And poor people. Presumably a political system really tilted towards the interests of the elite wouldn’t allow either to exist.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.