Union vs. Business Power, Cont'd

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JONATHAN CHAIT MARCH 1, 2011

Union vs. Business Power, Cont'd

In an exchange with National Review's Kevin Williamson over the power of unions, I wrote a post yesterday laying out several reasons why public unions are not uniquely powerful. One of those reasons was that business massively outspends labor ob both lobbying and electioneering. Williamson replies, focusing only on that one point, and making this strange response:

Jonathan Chait writes that unions are paltry players compared to the big, bad business lobby when it comes to buying influence in Washington and state capitols. Here are the ten largest donors in U.S. politics as of February 7, according to OpenSecrets.Org:

ActBlue: $51 million

AT&T: $46 million

AFSCME: $43 million

National Association of Realtors: $38 million

Goldman Sachs: $33 million

American Association for Justice: $33 million

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers: $33 million

National Education Association: $32 million

Laborers Union: $30 million

Teamsters Union:  $30 million

That’s five unions to two businesses and three other groups. Five out of ten is half, by my always-suspect English-major math.

Williamson does not explain why a list of the top ten donors provides a better measure of the aggregate power of business versus labor than an aggregation of the total spending by each side. Does he believe that a single group donating $30 million is powerful, but ten groups donating $3 million each are not? Does he consider the fact that Al Gore won 4 of the 6 largest states in 2000 sufficient proof that Gore won the electoral college?

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posted in: jonathan chait, washington, united states, jonathan chait, kevin williamson

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