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The New York Times reported in the Sunday paper that 158 families accounted for half of the money contributed to candidates for President in 2016.
Guess we can’t talk about the 1% anymore. Someone, quick, do the math: What % is 158 families as compared to the total number of families in the U.S.? I would do it myself but I don’t have time to google the total number of families. 138 of those families are funding Republicans, 20 are funding Democrats.
So if 158 families basically are the funding base of American presidential politics, are we a democracy? an autocracy? an oligarchy?
They are overwhelmingly white, rich, older and male, in a nation that is being remade by the young, by women, and by black and brown voters. Across a sprawling country, they reside in an archipelago of wealth, exclusive neighborhoods dotting a handful of cities and towns. And in an economy that has minted billionaires in a dizzying array of industries, most made their fortunes in just two: finance and energy.
Now they are deploying their vast wealth in the political arena, providing almost half of all the seed money raised to support Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. Just 158 families, along with companies they own or control, contributed $176 million in the first phase of the campaign, a New York Times investigation found. Not since before Watergate have so few people and businesses provided so much early money in a campaign, most of it through channels legalized by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision five years ago.
These donors’ fortunes reflect the shifting composition of the country’s economic elite. Relatively few work in the traditional ranks of corporate America, or hail from dynasties of inherited wealth. Most built their own businesses, parlaying talent and an appetite for risk into huge wealth: They founded hedge funds in New York, bought up undervalued oil leases in Texas, made blockbusters in Hollywood. More than a dozen of the elite donors were born outside the United States, immigrating from countries like Cuba, the old Soviet Union, Pakistan, India and Israel.
But regardless of industry, the families investing the most in presidential politics overwhelmingly lean right, contributing tens of millions of dollars to support Republican candidates who have pledged to pare regulations; cut taxes on income, capital gains and inheritances; and shrink entitlement programs.
In other words, they are using their contributions to elect officials who will protect their wealth from taxation and who will “shrink entitlement programs,” the programs that benefit other Americans.