We need a debate about the state of our democracy. As Marianne Williamson says, "Money in politics is the cancer underlying all the cancers." Monied interests have a lot to gain by controlling the political process. They’re spending increasingly larger amounts every election cycle to make our government serve their interests. So we are joining the Patriotic Millionaires in calling for the Presidential Debates to talk specifically about the state of our democracy.
Please sign our petition below to ask debate hosts, to focus the conversation on the state of our democracy and what can be done to fix it.
Thank you! The Pay 2 Play Team
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In 2013-14, the agribusiness industry spent $76.8 million in lobbying and $64.1 million in contributions to protect a status quo that includes billions in unneeded insurance subsidies for a very profitable industry, widespread use of potentially unhealthy pesticides and unregulated, unsustainable farming practices. #KochVsPope
The end of Glass-Steagall allowed banks holding the investments of everyday Americans to pursue riskier and riskier strategies in pursuit of greater returns with the guaranteed support of the government. The finance, insurance and real estate industry has spent hundreds of millions more on lobbyists and contributions than any other sector.
While the Appalachians are starting to move on from the coal industry, the damage remains. Ruined landscapes where once was there was vibrant growth, trees and rivers. And those who stayed have been infected by lung cancer from the coal dust leftover.
President Eisenhower first warned of the military-industrial complex in 1960 and the industry remains one of the most powerful to this day, taking public funds and recycling them to politicians in the form of lobbying and contributions that guarantee a steady flow of new weapons contracts. The industry spent $127.7 million on lobbying in 2014 alone.
The cost of going to college has increased 1,000% since the 1970s so schools have to charge more to attend. Moreover, a surge in private, often online education at all levels endangers students' education, their wallets and their future earnings.
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Safe water is a human right, yet Congress and the EPA lagg on creating regulations that protect our aquifers from fracking. Chemicals used in fracking, which end up in our water supply are still secret. When local citizens stand up, the industry bullies them with coordinated campaigns and appeals to state legislators to protect their bottom line. #KochVsPope
Despite overwhelming bipartisan support to know what's in our food, governments have been slow to enact legislation to label GMOs. Whenever it's on a ballot, agribusiness pours millions into creating propaganda, drowning out opponents.
While increased healthcare coverage is better than none, the Affordable Care Act has resulted in soaring profits for insurance companies when a far simpler, fairer and cheaper option of a single-payer, Medicare-for-All style system was never even considered.
Members of Congress create huge tax loopholes, then publicly bemoan them when corporations and rich people actually use those loopholes. Congress has also cut the budget for the IRS to enforce tax laws, primarily benefiting those who have the most money to hide.
Private prisons create a culture where prisoners, including children, are seen as a commodity. Private prison companies use fear tactics and propaganda to convince elected officials and the public to support their bottom line with harsher sentencing and detention quotas.
Food industry lobbyists repeatedly make Congress a champion of lower food standards in schools, making American kids among the most obese in the world. First Lady Michelle Obama's food standards continue to face opposition, effectively putting kids last.
ALEC represents corporate interests and repeatedly pushes laws at the state level to repeal worker protections, grow corporate profits and dismantle or prevent environmental and safety standards.
Historically, the FCC's mission prioritized ensuring diverse opinions and voices in the media. Since the 90s, Congress & FCC have continually loosened consolidation regulations and even foreign ownership rules in the face of broad public opposition.
Congress fails to enact sensible gun safety laws such as background checks, despite bipartisan support from 92% of Americans, because they fear massive spending campaigns from the NRA. That fear runs so deep, they won't even fund gun violence research. #KochVsPope
Oil companies with long histories of safety violations, oil spills and leaks continue to pay small fines, hire PR companies to polish their images and then go back to business as usual.
Americans pay more for pharmaceuticals than any other country in the world. At the same time, the pharmaceutical industry was the single largest defrauder of the federal government, responsible for 25% of all claims under the False Claims Act between 2000 and 2010.
200 corporations have spent $5.8 billion on campaign contributions and lobbying, using that influence to win themselves $4.4 trillion in federal contracts and support. Can you blame corporations for making these investments?
Banks and real estate investors pushed for looser regulations while developing ever riskier strategies. They were bailed out by the government - while they evicted millions, often illegally. And now, they're bigger than ever.
THE LETTER R WAS BROUGHT TO YOU BY: Global Exchange/Elect Democracy
Despite emails going back to 1981 acknowledging concern over climate change, Exxon has spent over $30 million on anti-science campaigns. Similarly, individuals and lobbyists with dirty energy agendas fight regulation and blocked scientists from advising the EPA.
The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been negotiated in secret with corporate lobbyists at the table. On the other hand, environmental groups, unions and consumer advocates have been left out.
Corporate interests spend millions lobbying and backing candidates who support dismantling unions so they can control hours, cut pay and reduce benefits.
Voter suppression and vote tampering have been going on since the beginning of time. Since the Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court decision, which undid several key parts of the Voter Rights Act, we've seen a renewed vigor in voter suppression.
When budgets are tight, cities turn to private contractors to take over certain responsibilities, including water which is a basic human right. But privatization of water cost citizens more in the long run and endangers public health.
427 former members of Congress are currently working as lobbyists, leveraging the connections they made while they worked for you. We like to call them the Secret Congress.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Great change is possible, but takes work! Find a group or candidate you can believe in, reach out and get involved!
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Big corporations and wealthy individuals spend hundreds of millions to ensure that only candidates who represent their interests make the laws unless we expose their game. They have money power, but we have people power.
Dear Debate Host,
As the moderator of this year’s first presidential debate, you have significant flexibility to select the topics you chose to cover. While there are a number of critical policy differences between the candidates, there is one issue so fundamental to our future — so essential to our national identity — that its inclusion in this debate must be guaranteed.
The candidates must first debate democracy itself.
The gap in this country between the powerful and the powerless is growing faster than we have seen in 100 years, and faster than we can sustain much longer. The contentious nature of this election cycle has laid bare the cracks in our foundation. The country is out of balance and unstable. Too few elites hold too much power, and they are using it to amass even more.
Power — more specifically, the distribution of power — in this country affects every aspect of American life from trade deals to water quality from criminal justice to access to medical treatment. In the most extreme cases, power decides not only how people live, but if they live.
You have a keen understanding of the essential role the fourth estate plays in a functioning democracy; in this fractious time, you have a grave responsibility to your fellow citizens. We urge you to use this unique opportunity to demand answers to our most essential questions from the individuals who seek to lead us.
You must help us learn whether or not each of these candidates actually believes in the essential equality of each and every citizen and how exactly they plan to address the gross imbalance of power that has cracked our foundation and threatens to rip our society apart. How will they match the idea of equality with the realities of American politics?
Who has power and who doesn’t? Ultimately the future of our country and the well-being of our citizens rests almost entirely in the answer to those basic questions.
It is up to you to not just ask the questions, but to demand the candidates answer them.