Comcast: Throwing Money At Congress To Approve Our Merger Is Ok Because Congress Represents The People!

from the public-relations-gobbledygook dept

Comcast is using a variety of sophisticated lobbying tricks to get the company's proposed $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable approved, including using minority groups and an endless roster of think tankers to parrot merger support. They're also taking a few cues from AT&T's blocked T-Mobile deal and avoiding making any promises the company knows it can't deliver (like claiming a merger that will likely kill jobs will somehow create jobs). But one thing Comcast is doing that's decidedly unsophisticated is its practice of throwing money at absolutely everybody (in truly bi-partisan fashion) in the hope it's really just as simple as buying merger support:
"...money from Comcast's political action committee has flowed to all but three members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Checks have landed in the campaign coffers of Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), who oversee the chamber's antitrust panel. Meanwhile, the cable giant has donated in some way to 32 of the 39 members of the House Judiciary Committee, which is planning a hearing of its own."
Another recent report noted that House members of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology received $853,525 from Comcast between January 1, 2001, and December 31, 2012. Members of the 109th, 110th, 111th and 112th Congresses also received $6,678,446 from Comcast between January 1, 2001 and December 31, 2012. Amusingly, Comcast tries strangely to downplay throwing cash at lawmakers by somehow insisting that because those same lawmakers are supposed to also represent Comcast employees (who'll likely see layoffs) and Comcast customers (who'll certainly see higher prices and anti-competitive behavior), that somehow this is all ok:
Comcast stresses its donations are a function of its business. "Comcast NBCUniversal operates in 39 states and has 130,000 employees across the country," said spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice. "It is important for our customers, our employees and our shareholders that we participate in the political process. The majority of our PAC contributions are to the senators and members who represent our employees and customers."
So if I follow Sena's logic to its dizzying conclusion: dumping money into the laps of lawmakers so they'll approve a merger that benefits only Comcast is justified because if those lawmakers weren't busy having Comcast cash dumped in their laps -- they might actually represent the people that voted for them? I've seen a lot of spin, and that one is pretty fantastic. We're not lobbying solely for the company's financial gain, you little people benefit too because lawmakers are technically supposed to be representing you. That is, if we weren't paying them to do otherwise. Isn't engaging in the political process fun!? Don't you feel engaged? Why aren't you laughing?
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Filed Under: congress, lobbying, merger
Companies: comcast, time warner cable


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  1. identicon
    bobby b, 12 Mar 2014 @ 7:45pm

    This is what we voted for

    "So if I follow Sena's logic to its dizzying conclusion: dumping money into the laps of lawmakers so they'll approve a merger that benefits only Comcast is justified . . . "

    Sure it's justified. This is our system of electioneering at its most basic.

    Politicians need to pay for television and radio and internet advertising if they want any chance of being elected. No other means will get your message out to the mass of voters who are spread too thin for you to reach them individually.

    So I send my five bucks to my favorite candidate (or my five hundred thousand bucks if I'm wealthy), and they use it to get their message ("vote for me because . . .") out to the voters. I send my five bucks to candidates whom I believe will do a good job in the office. "Good job" usually means that they will effectively pursue goals that I share with them.

    To the extent that the system corrupts our government, it can only do so because we the voters choose to vote based primarily on stupid, banal, irrelevant, lazy, and self-serving reasons.

    We always decry how the biggest campaign chest seems to automatically buy an election, but we need to ask why this is so. The answer is not flattering to us as a society: no matter the merits or faults of the candidates, we seem to vote based on which candidate shoved more commercials down our throats.

    So, if we the voters are going to tell candidates that our votes will always follow the money, we certainly can't criticize them for trying to raise as much money as possible.

    If we can ever reach a point where the bulk of our population bothers to learn what the issues are, to figure out why those issues are important, and to then discern which candidate truly represents our values and wishes, the importance of giving dollars to candidates will diminish.

    But as long as we vote based on the number of times we see the blow-dried candidate on television walking his dog and mentioning to the pack of attentive and well-groomed people following along with him on camera that we need to do things "for the children", then we're going to leave the governance of our country in the hands of those people rich enough to buy lots of ads for their candidates.

    We can't expect anything different as long as we put less time into our own civic education than we put into trimming our dog's toenails. We get the governance that we deserve, good and hard.

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