THE BLOG
10/07/2010 09:26 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Big Insurance, Pharma, Wall Street and John Boehner

Stacia Haley in Seattle worked all her life and raised a child as a single parent. Yet she has no retirement income other than Social Security.

[Social Security] is all many of us will have, if we live long enough to retire.

Stacia is right. Some 64 percent of America's retirees rely on Social Security for 50 percent or more of their income.

Yet the man Wall Street wants to make speaker of the House supports raising the retirement age for Social Security, lowering the hammer even more on low- and middle-income Americans, who die earlier than the rich. (And what about that income gap? Well, never mind.)

This is just one of the extreme positions John Boehner holds while he salivates in the wings as House minority leader, angling for a Republican takeover of Congress bought and paid for by corporate America.

By now there should be no question that if Boehner becomes speaker, corporations will call the shots -- and the insurance companies, drug manufacturers and Wall Street firms have been busy paying big time for the privilege. Boehner's campaign to date has collected nearly $7.1 million. Putting that sum in perspective, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has received $2.9 million. Meanwhile, the "Boehner for Speaker" fundraising committee has racked up another $2 million.

Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, the American Bankers Association and Big Pharma are some of his biggest Wall Street backers, with the political action committees and employees of insurance firms alone giving nearly $426,000 to Boehner's campaign committees through June 30, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Boehner is so soaked in lobbyist dollars that his clique of friends and current and former staff members on Capitol Hill have even been given a name: Boehner Land.

New York Times columnist Bob Herbert offers a snapshot of Boehner's corporate backers who have:

contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to his campaigns, provided him with rides on their corporate jets, socialized with him at luxury golf resorts and waterfront bashes and are now leading fund-raising efforts for his Boehner for Speaker campaign, which is soliciting checks of up to $37,800 each, the maximum allowed.

As the New York Times reported, one lobbyist in Boehner's club -- "after lauding each staff member in Mr. Boehner's office that he routinely calls to ask for help -- ticked off the list" of handouts to credit card companies, hedge fund execs and the oil industry for which he had sought Boehner's assistance.

Take a look at just some of Boehner's corporate agenda.

  • Boehner backs preserving tax cuts for businesses that shift jobs and profits overseas -- saving multinational corporations $10 billion -- and opposed a proposed cap on debit card fees. After all, Boehner's friend and golf partner, Samuel J. Baptista, is a lobbyist whose clients include Goldman Sachs and Discover Financial Services.
  • Boehner has opposed extending unemployment insurance and spending to shore up our faltering infrastructure. That would mean less money available for tax breaks for the rich -- like the 20 individual wealthy donors who alone contributed $570,300 in nearly one month under his new political organization, the Boehner for Speaker Committee.
  • Boehner wants to gut health care reform -- legislative action that tops the priority list of his insurance company employee funders.

  • Boehner opposes fair trade agreements and was instrumental in helping pass the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), which one of his biggest donors, lobbyist Michael Boland, supported and advocated for on behalf of his telecom clients. With at least $47,900 in contributions, Boland is Boehner's fourth-most-generous individual donor.
  • Boehner fought the creation of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection as part of Wall Street reform and would jump at the chance to gut the new agency, reverse reform and take our nation back to the Bush-era corporate agenda that nearly created economic Armageddon. Not coincidentally, so do all the financial interests on Wall Street.

Boehner's agenda is nothing less than economic disaster for America's working families.

Boehner's backers are part of a massive infusion of corporate cash fueling campaigns: $911 million in hard money to date. That doesn't begin to count the corporate money pouring into unaccountable election front groups headed up by Karl Rove and others. Is it any wonder it's sometimes hard to hear the voices of working people?

It may seem quaint to say it, but buying lawmakers for the highest bidding is not what our democracy is about. And that's why we're working harder than we've ever worked to make a difference -- district by district, a few hundred votes, a few thousand votes. We're using our feet, our hands and our hearts -- walking door to door, leafleting worksites, talking to co-workers -- to rebuild our middle class, retirement security and a strong America for our children.