The Big Money Behind Congress’ New Super Committee

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), a member of Congress' new Super Committee to reduce the federal deficit.Louie Palu/Zuma

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The names are in, the roster filled out: Last week, Congressional leaders announced the twelve members of a new bipartisan “super committee,” created by the debt ceiling bill, to find another $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction. Those lawmakers are: Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), and Max Baucus (D-Mont.); and Reps. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Dave Camp (R-Mich.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), and Jim Clyburn (D-SC).

These 12 lawmakers cover the ideological gamut, from the most hawkish fiscal conservatives to deep blue liberal Democrats, but they all have this in common: Their careers have been greased by the money of powerful lobbies and political advocacy groups. Using data from the Center for Responsive Politics, the folks at MapLight, a group focusing on money in American politics, have calculated the biggest donors behind the Super Committee.

The heaviest hitters are no surprise: lawyers and law firms (who often top lists of political donations), big banks such as Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase, and political outfits including the lefty EMILY’s List and the conservative Club for Growth. As the Super Committee begins debating further spending cuts and (maybe) revenue increases as part of a deficit reduction package due by November, it’s worth bearing in mind, as with any big debate in Washington, that there are big donors behind the lawmakers at the bargaining table.

Here are the top 10 industries that have donated to Super Committee members:

Industry Total
Lawyers/Law Firms $31,529,149
Securities & Investment $11,221,416
Democratic/Liberal $9,647,264
Health Professionals $9,321,588
Real Estate $8,793,350
Education $8,568,460
Misc. Business $7,902,021
Business Services $6,563,524
Women’s Issues $6,396,728
Insurance $5,693,595

Here are top ten political action committees or company employees who’ve given to Super Committee members:

Organization Total
Club for Growth $990,066
Microsoft Corp. $810,100
University of California $629,495
Goldman Sachs $592,684
EMILY’s List $586,835
Citigroup Inc. $561,081
JPMorgan Chase & Co. $494,316
Bank of America $349,566
Skadden, Arps, et al. $347,356
General Electric $340,935

 

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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