Reading Between the Lines

Another day, another NYT story on the Congressional impasse on energy policy that could benefit from the addition of some money-and-politics annotation. I added the brackets.

 

Senate Republicans on Monday hurriedly abandoned a broad tax proposal opposed by the oil industry [$32 million to federal candidates and parties since 2003, 81% to GOP] and business leaders [$471 million and counting from business interests in 2006 cycle, 58% to GOP], another sign of their struggle to come up with an acceptable political and legislative answer to high gasoline prices. . .

Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the majority leader, [who has gotten more than $250,000 from energy interests over the course of his Senate career, and more than $1 million from miscellaneous businesses] said he had decided to jettison the provision...

The retreat came after a torrent of objections from business leaders and their advocates[See above], who typically view Republicans in Congress as allies. They said they had been blindsided by the inclusion of the proposal as a central element of the Republican leadership's energy package late last week...

 

At the National Retail Federation [$90,000 so far in the 2006 election cycle, 79% to GOP; over all retailers have given $5.3 million, this cycle 63% to Republicans], Rochelle Bernstein, vice president and tax counsel, said lobbyists there immediately raised a red flag with lawmakers and aides. "Our concern was did they understand what they were doing, did they know this was a proposal that could have wide-ranging implications?" Ms. Bernstein said....

 

The Retail Industry Leaders Association, a trade group representing about 400 businesses including Wal-Mart [no 1. retail contributor in 2006 cycle, giving $2.2 million, 80% to GOP] and Target [no. 4 giver, $366,000, 75% to GOP], began rallying their big-box store members first thing Friday.

 

"It was just surprising that they didn't see the writing on the wall, they didn't see the opposition that this provision would face," said Shannon Campagna, the organization's vice president for government affairs. "They didn't have their ear to the ground."

 

Keep in mind that in the 2004 elections, 99.6% of the U.S. population did not make a campaign contribution over $200 to a federal candidate or party. This is a prime example of how special interest donors have more sway in Washington than ordinary voters. So why doesn't the media say so?