Thursday, January 10, 2013


If it's really the case that This Time Is Different and the gun lobby may lose a round or two now, it may be for one reason: this time, on the gun control side, people with lots of money are involved. And (The Washington Post reports) we're not just talking about Mike Bloomberg:
... A political action committee, Americans for Responsible Solutions, was launched this week by former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and has picked up seven-figure donations from major Democratic benefactors.

Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs, and Ron Conway, a leading Silicon Valley angel investor, are helping finance the Giffords group and will co-host a fundraiser in San Francisco this week, an organizer said. Two wealthy Texas lawyers, Steve and Amber Mostyn, told news outlets Wednesday that they had given $1 million to the organization....

While groups such as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence have long lobbied for stricter gun laws, last month's massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., has spurred many progressive organizations, millionaire donors and other activists to begin focusing on the issue....
Well, if certain rich people are on the side of the angels this time, I'm grateful -- but I'm sorry that this is the only way anything gets done in this country. Supporters of stricter gun laws greatly outnumbered gun-control opponents for years until very recently, but the gun lobby had much more money, so that was the end of the story. Money trumped public opinion. But now money may work in our favor.

Of course, rich gun-control supporters may not stay focused on this -- this may be just a fad for them. In that case, we may be right back where we started.


Meanwhile, I'm pleased to see The New York Times front-paging (at least in the print edition) a story about a more typical use of cash to steer a debate:
... In Washington's running battles over taxes and spending, ... Fix the Debt [has] lent a public-spirited, elder-statesman sheen to the cause of deficit reduction....

But in the weeks ahead, many of the campaign's members will be juggling their private interests with their public goals: they are also lobbyists, board members or executives for corporations that have worked aggressively to shape the contours of federal spending and taxes, including many of the tax breaks that would be at the heart of any broad overhaul....

Sam Nunn, a former Democratic senator from Georgia who is a member of Fix the Debt’s steering committee, received more than $300,000 in compensation in 2011 as a board member of General Electric....

Erskine B. Bowles, a co-founder of Fix the Debt, was paid $345,000 in stock and cash in 2011 as a board member at Morgan Stanley, while Judd Gregg, a former Republican senator from New Hampshire and a co-chairman of Fix the Debt, is a paid adviser to Goldman Sachs. Both companies have engaged in lobbying on international tax rules....
This isn't exactly shocking news, except perhaps all the Fix the Debt worshipers in the Beltway establishment, but it's good to see the Times making the point.

I suppose some gun fan can make a case for rich people's support of gun control as equally self-serving, but, perhaps naively, I'm going to see that as their idealistic side, the same thing that leads the Koch brothers to fund the arts in their spare time.

In any case, we think we live in a democracy, but mostly we just watch the rich fight. We just get lucky when a few of them fight on our side.

1 comment:

Victor said...

Oh goody!
We have our own millionaires, finally working on gun control.
For now...

And, no surprise here, as if there ever was - the "Fix the Debt" crowd is part of the Lobbying Industrial Complex, which moves money from the public trust, to their corporations and their interests.

And, also, not ONE member of "Fix the Debt" is now, or ever was, in debt themselves.

You want to "Fix the Debt?"
How about less lobbying for Corporate Welfare?
How about paying 10% more in taxes in graduated increments, based on ALL income?
How about increasing taxes, and at the same time, eliminating tax loopholes for the rich, trust fund kiddies, and the corporate teats from which they suck?
And, eliminate the FICA cap, to fully fund SS and Medicare for the forseeable future?

I 'Fixed the Debt!'
Now, what do I win?