New York, NY: In a reaction to the Wall Street Journal’s recent ground-breaking report, corporate leaders have registered complaints on the political expenditures of unions. The expenditures, totaling around $4 billion dollars, are almost four times what was previously believed by experts and almost $4 billion more than corporate leaders had believed they were spending.
Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan, was quoted at a press conference as saying, “$4 billion? Come on guys, for a few plates of lobster and a visit to a strip club I can get a whole caucus on my side.” He then offered his services if they wanted some help planning their political campaigns.
The point has been taken up by several other corporate leaders. Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman-Sachs, wrote in an editorial that the excesses of the unions have to be checked. “They’re paying top-dollar for some really just pitiful votes. I mean, how much did they spend on the Obama campaign? And what did they get? Insurance exchanges. Honestly, we funded commercials asking whether he was a citizen or not and he still handed us billions. These unions have got to get it together. It’s unfair to the American people, really.”
The unions’ responses to this criticism has placed much of the blame on the lack of transparency within Congress. They say it is difficult to shop around when there are no price tags listed. They have pointed to Amazon Wishlists as a model system. Politicians could put whether they wanted an LCD TV or an Armani suit and unions could make sure their gifts were always perfectly tailored to a politician’s preferences. In that way, the unions could skip all the ambiguous costs of working with their members.
Criticism from industry has also pushed in the other direction. Specifically, pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer were astonished at the numbers reported by the Wall Street Journal. Henry A. McKinnell, CEO of Pfizer, was particularly outraged. “Four billion? Do you know how much we spent during the whole healthcare thing? Four billion was walkin’ around money.” McKinnell shook his head. “It’s really a disservice to their members.”
There also have been a number of complaints coming from member of Congress. Joe Wilson, the man whose “you lie” outburst during the President’s state of the union address made him a conservative celebrity, testified on the floor of the House, “There’s no reason a union should be spending money on politics at all! Their job is to be protecting the rights of workers against bosses, corporate interests and politicians…oh wait. I get it.”