THE BLOG

Time to Tax Campaign Donations and Lobbying

09/07/2011 12:10 pm ET | Updated Nov 07, 2011

Last week, the Institute for Policy Studies released a report stating that 25 of the top paid 100 CEOs earned more in 2010 than their companies paid in federal taxes. These low taxes were in a large part due to the use of off shore subsidiaries in tax havens such as Luxembourg, Bermuda, and Singapore. While the report could be skewed because it does not include deferred taxes (as deferred taxes may or may not be paid), the far more worrying revelation is that many of these companies spent more on lobbying than they did on federal taxes. Companies paid more money lobbying to influence the U.S. government's decisions than they paid to fund the implementation of government decisions.

Republicanism and Democracy gain their legitimacy of power by the idea that every vote counts on an equal footing. This is why universal suffrage and combatting disenfranchisement are so important. When political influence and decisions are paid for with bullets and torture, it is condemned as dictatorship, yet we turn a blind eye to the tyranny of purchasing our government with the dollar. Companies, organizations, and individuals paying money to make their votes worth more than others through lobbying, bribery, and even donating to political campaigns and action committees goes against this fundamental notion of democracy. Paying to influence a political decision is paying to give your vote more importance than someone else's. It is paying to nullify the opening truth of the Declaration of Independence, that all men (and women) are created equal.

When a person or group pays more to influence votes and decisions than in taxes, it is an outrageous affront to what our country stands for. In an age of 24-month political campaigns that aim to spend $1 Billion for one elected position and a well entrenched lobbying industry, it is naive to think that campaign financing and lobbying will disappear. However, in order to prevent anyone from paying more to influence politics than they do to fund the country, in addition to tighter campaign financing laws, the implementation of a 101 percent tax on political contributions of any sort and lobbying is necessary.

This will help break the stranglehold that special interests and the far extremes have on primary elections while also providing increased revenue sources. Total lobbying expenditures were $3.5 Billion in 2010. Assuming these levels remain and adding it to the estimated $6 Billion that will be spent on the 2012 election and if taxed at 101 percent that's an additional $9.595 Billion to go towards education, infrastructure, defense, or paying off our debt.

The CEO of Starbuck's, Howard Schultz, has organized a call upon industrial leaders to stop campaign contributions until our government ends its hyper partisan ways, effectively freezing the assets of our politicians. While this is an admirable goal, we need to go further to discourage the buying of our government's decisions and the circumvention of democracy. If you are going to pay to make your vote worth more than mine, you are going to pay even more to fund the government that you presume to say is more yours than mine.