Monday, Nov 08, 2004
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By Oliver Morgan
LONDON, NOV. 7. They paid up big time. With an estimated $4-billion price tag, the 2004 U.S. elections were the most expensive ever. For those doing the bank rolling, the results were satisfactory.
The President, George W. Bush, on whom $360.6 millions was lavished in private and corporate donations, was re-elected.
In the Senate, where the Republican membership rose from 51 to 55, 91 per cent of contests went to the candidate who spent most, according to the Washington-based Centre for Responsive Politics.
In the House of Representatives, where the Republican majority also increased, it was 96 per cent.
Sector by sector across corporate America, either through "political action committees", which channel donations to individual Congressmen, or through donations by individuals, companies bet on a Republican victory.
Bet on Republicans
For example, of the $39 millions spent by energy companies utilities such as Texas-based TXU and crude oil super-majors like Exxon, which have always been close to the former oilmen George Bush and Dick Cheney 75 per cent went to Republicans.
Agribusiness spent $38.7 million, of which 71 per cent went to Republicans. In the financial sector, investment banks such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have led a massive recent increase in political donations. Republicans got 59 per cent of the dollars. In defence, 62 per cent was Republican red, in pharmaceuticals, 66 per cent, in construction, 71 per cent.
Corporate America and corporate Britain, as the donations of BP, Shell, BAE Systems, Catterpillar and GSK show bet right. The markets rose, pharmaceutical, oil and defence stocks all gained. So now it's payback time.
Larry Noble, of the CRP, says: "Companies make political contributions and support because they want to have someone in office who is sensitive to their needs. Most look at it as investment, and they expect a return."
Sigh of relief
Mr. Bush can now push measures and legislation that either failed last time round his energy bill, for example or was deemed too radical, such as privatisation of social security, or too difficult, such as reform of the law of tort. Most will benefit Republican donors.
The pharmaceutical industry will heave a huge sigh of relief that Democrat plans to limit refundable drug costs on state health programmes will not be enacted for at least another four years. Pfizer employees will feel that their $1.2 millions 67 per cent of it for the Republican cause was well spent. Ditto GSK, at $835,135, the second biggest donor. Car-makers (who donated 64 per cent of their $1.9 million to Republicans) will also be relieved that Mr. John Kerry's emissions proposals will not see the light of day.
Even without the bill, energy companies got a lot out of Mr. Bush. He did not sign up to the Kyoto agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Oil and gas companies such as Occidental and Marathon (which gave $306,000 and $250,000, respectively, this time, more than 80 per cent going to Republicans) have not done badly out of the lifting of sanctions on Libya, where they have had skeleton operations for two decades.
Looking for legislation
What these companies are looking for this time is passage of the bill the nuclear industry wants its proposed new plants; the utilities further deregulation. And Exxon, ChevronTexaco, and BP, will be hoping that when Mr. Bush says he wants to "reduce America's dependence on foreign oil", he means they can drill on the protected Arctic wildlife refuge in Alaska.
© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004
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