Contractionary policy is contractionary, as Atrios likes to say. And with the March 1 sequestration due a week from Friday, a massive contraction to our still-awful economy seems unavoidable.
Senate Democrats have decided to fight for mild contraction instead, and even then have started negotiations midfield to the Republican position. In an interview with NPR’s Robert Siegel on February 14th, Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said:
What I proposed, along with the other members of our caucus, was to do 50-50 replacement: 50 percent revenue, 50 percent responsible spending cuts as a replacement for this year’s sequestration. I am being supported by all of my caucus.
David Lightman of McClatchy summarizes the details:
The plan includes $55 billion in new tax revenue from a minimum 30 percent tax on most millionaires and ending some oil industry tax breaks and a benefit that encourages companies to ship jobs overseas. Another $55 billion would be saved by cutting $27.5 billion from defense – exactly what is not specific – and saving $27.5 billion by ending direct payments to farmers. All savings are calculated over a 10-year period.
Both tax hikes and spending cuts are contractionary, of course, no matter what the ratio. And more of the same is looming. So, as the budget battles surrounding the March first sequestration deadline, the debt ceiling that will be reached later this spring, and the 2014 appropriations begin to fire up, I decided to look at the major contributors to Murray, who is the chair of the Senate Budget Committee and a member of the Appropriations Committee.
Several of Murray’s more prominent contributors are liberal issue-oriented organizations. Giving $665,000 since her first campaign in 1992, Murray’s top donor by far was EMILY’s List, a political action committee (PAC) focused on electing pro-choice Democratic women to office. Arms control lobbying group the Council for a Livable World (sixth) gave Murray nearly $74,000, while progressive policy non-profit MoveOn.org came in ninth with $64,000.
More than half of Murray’s largest donors are located or have headquarters in the state of Washington. Second on her list, with its headquarters in Redmond, is Microsoft, the multinational software Borg; Microsoft’s PAC comes in fourth. The University of Washington in Seattle ranked third, and the State of Washington eighth. Other home-state donors on the list: Seattle-based aerospace and defense company Boeing (fifth) and online retailers Amazon.com (11th); Denny Miller Associates (12th), which lobbies for numerous Washington corporations (including UDub and Boeing); corporate lawyers Perkins Coie (13th), with a sizable presence in Seattle; warehouse club Costco (14th), with its headquarters in Issaquah, WA; now defunct Seattle law firm Preston Gates & Ellis (15th), which once employed Jack Abramoff; and Washington timber company Weyerhaeuser (16th).
Rounding off her top twenty are biotech ultraheavyweight Amgen (seventh), which got a sweetheart deal in January’s fiscal cliff bill; the Seafarers International Union (tenth); ill-starred cruise company Carnival (17th); airline holding company United Continental Holdings (18th); teachers’ union the National Education Administration (19th); and US health insurance giant Blue Cross Blue Shield (20th).