Majority Still Wants Less Corporate Influence

Gallup Organization released a study showing Americans, by a large majority, want less corporate influence in the U.S.  Unfortunately they aren’t getting it.  Corporate influence is at an all time high. See Fox, Hen House, Economic Advisors and Nice to Advise the King for examples.  The last Congressional election was the most expensive so far, thanks to the Supreme Court decision allowing corporations to spend freely on electoral campaigns. From Gallup (graphs at the link):

The large majority of Americans (62%) want major corporations to have less influence in the United States. While this is down from a peak of 68% in 2008, it remains well above the 52% recorded in 2001. Relatively few Americans would prefer to see corporations gain influence, but the 12% recorded this year is the highest to date.

2001-2011 Trend: Preferences for Corporate Influence in the U.S.

The new data come from a Jan. 7-9 Gallup poll. The same survey found 67% of Americans dissatisfied with the size and influence of major corporations in the country today, the highest level since Gallup first asked this question in 2001. Of seven aspects of the United States rated in the poll, Americans are the least satisfied with corporate influence.

2001-2011 Trend: Satisfaction With Size and Influence of Major Corporations in America Today

Republicans are often seen as champions of corporate power — favoring lower corporate tax rates, battling efforts to strengthen labor unions, and advocating less government regulation of business. That is borne out to some degree in the finding that Republicans are more than twice as likely as Democrats, 36% vs. 16%, to say major corporations should maintain the same level of influence in the country, while, by 73% to 49%, Democrats are much more likely to favor less corporate influence. However, relatively few Republicans, 13% — little different from the 10% of Democrats — believe major corporations should have more influence in the country.

The groups of Americans most likely to favor expanded corporate influence are, perhaps, those least likely to be associated with corporate America: young adults, adults living in low-income households, and those with no college education. This could reflect the lower levels of attention these groups have paid in recent years to controversies involving corporate America, including the Wall Street financial bailout and, prior to that, Enron and other business scandals.

via In U.S., Majority Still Wants Less Corporate Influence.

It’s Nice to Advise the King

Follow-up to my post Fox, Hen House, Economic Advisors on appointing GE boss Jeff Immelt to advise President Obama. So Obama begins enforcing new environmental rules, but GE gets an exemption.  How convenient. As Mel Brooks used to say, It’s good to be the king. I think it’s pretty nice to just be the king’s advisor.

Last month, the Obama EPA began enforcing new rules regulating the greenhouse gas emissions from any new or expanded power plants.

This week, the EPA issued its first exemption, Environment & Energy News reports:

The Obama administration will spare a stalled power plant project in California from the newest federal limits on greenhouse gases and conventional air pollution, U.S. EPA says in a new court filing that marks a policy shift in the face of industry groups and Republicans accusing the agency of holding up construction of large industrial facilities.

According to a declaration by air chief Gina McCarthy, officials reviewed EPA policies and decided it was appropriate to “grandfather” projects such as the Avenal Power Center, a proposed 600-megawatt power plant in the San Joaquin Valley, so they are exempted from rules such as new air quality standards for smog-forming nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

There’s something interesting about the Avenal Power Center:

The proposed Avenal Energy project will be a combined-cycle generating plant consisting of two natural gas-fired General Electric 7FA Gas Turbines with Heat Recovery Steam Generators (HRSG) and one General Electric Steam Turbine.

Maybe GE CEO Jeff Immelt’s closeness to President Obama, and his broad support for Obama’s agenda, had nothing to do with this exemption. But we have no way of knowing that, and given the administration’s record of regularly misleading Americans regarding lobbyists, frankly, I wouldn’t trust the White House if they told me there was no connection.

On the upside, at least Job Czar Immelt is creating jobs!