SEARCH

Entries in Politics (5)

Friday
May102013

McCain Proposes Bill Allowing for ‘A La Carte’ Buying of Cable Channels

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has introduced a bill in the Senate that would let you get HBO without paying for the DFH Network, defying a powerful telecom industry that is vociferously opposed to allowing pay per channel options.

The “Television Consumer Freedom Act of 2013″ would let consumers buy cable channels “a la carte,” something the Netflix and Hulu generation has been clamoring for to the trepidation of telecom giants.

“You want to watch one television program, you can watch it. If you don’t, you don’t have to. The situation today is obviously far different from that,” McCain said introducing the bill in the Senate Thursday.  “That’s unfair and wrong, especially when you consider how the regulatory deck is stacked in favor of industry against the consumer.”

For avid fans of Girls, or Game of Thrones, McCain is speaking to their deepest desires. The ability to subscribe to HBO Go, without paying Comcast, Verizon, or the Dish Network nearly $100 a month has for a long time seemed like a fantasy.

And it may yet be.

The National Cable and Telecommunications Association, which spent $200,000 on lobbying the federal government in 2013, is strongly opposed to the bill.

“In a thriving marketplace that is constantly providing consumers with new services and features, a government-mandated a la carte system is a lose–lose proposition,” they said in a statement. As countless studies have demonstrated, subscription bundles offer a wider array of viewing options, increased programming diversity and better value than per channel options. In today’s video marketplace, consumers enjoy more choice than ever before.”

And the NCTA’s lobbying pales in comparison to the $14.86 million that Comcast spent on lobbying in 2012.

McCain says that the cost of cable has spiraled out of control, which is only possible if large cable and satellite companies have a monopoly.

“People are on fixed incomes, people are hurting. Why on earth should they have a 100 percent price increase?” McCain said. “And the only way that could be done is through monopolies.”

McCain’s bill would tie the availability of copyright licenses that allow providers to protect their content to the voluntary offering of a la carte channels.

On the other side of the issue are smaller cable companies, represented by the American Cable Association, who support McCain’s efforts, which may help open some room in the telecom marketplace for smaller carriers.

Sen. McCain’s new bill highlights a point that many, including ACA, have been making for a long time, which is that programmers use their formidable market power to impose tying-and-bundling requirements on unwilling distributors. The result is that consumers must subscribe to large pay-TV packages that are populated with dozens of unwanted channels.

McCain’s bill also deals with another vexing issue for television watchers: sports blackouts.

His bill would also prevent sports blackout for games broadcast from publicly funded stadium -- which is to say a lot of stadiums.

According to Deadspin, which compiled data on stadium construction, tax dollars financed more than 60 percent of the cost of building or renovating the 186 sports stadiums constructed between 2009 and 2012.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug062012

Chick-Fil-A and Six Other Companies That Have Taken a Political Stand

Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Whether he wanted to be or not, Dan Cathy, the Bible-quoting president and chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A, has become a household name. So has his stance on same-sex marriage.

What people might not realize is the extent to which Chick-fil-A has funded organizations with radically anti-gay messages through its charitable arm, the WinShape Foundation, which was created by Chick-fil-A founder and chairman S. Truett Cathy in 1984. According to a July report from Equality Matters, a gay rights organization, the foundation donated nearly $2 million in 2010 to groups such as the Marriage & Family Foundation, the Family Research Council and Exodus International, which has helped "men and women surrender their sexual struggles to the Lordship of Jesus Christ" since 1976.

But Chick-fil-A isn't the only company with a conservative bent. Conservative activists are responsible for some of the products you use in your home. Koch Industries, for example, which manufactures products like Angel Soft toilet paper, Brawny Paper towels and Dixie cups plans to donate about $400 million to conservative groups such as the National Rifle Association, Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, the National Right to Life Committee, Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition, and the American Future Fund, Politico reported.

The founders of Koch Industries, brothers David and Charles Koch, have helped bankroll numerous Tea Party candidates through their advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity.

Meanwhile, Costco co-founder and chairman Jeffrey H. Brotman gave $77,550 in political contributions to Democrats and only $15,625 to Republicans. An additional $63,700 went to special interest groups, according to Newsmeat.org, which tracks donor spending.

Most people aren't aware of the extent to which their favorite companies play partisan politics, said Kate Coyne-McCoy, executive director of Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending (CAPS), a bipartisan organization dedicated to curbing the role of corporate spending in elections. What's more, public companies aren't obligated to disclose their political spending.

"Soon America will be inundated with TV ads that will be nasty and vitriolic," she said. "We won't know who's paying for what. It's like campaigns are auctions, not elections, and we won't know which politicians are being bought by whom."

So what other companies or CEOS have strong political or ideological beliefs?

Amazon.com
While Chick-fil-A has been gaining notoriety among those opposed to same-sex marriage, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is the new poster boy for the pro-gay marriage set. On July 27, Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, pledged $2.5 million to Washington United for Marriage (WUM), Washington state's coalition of organizations, congregations, unions and businesses working together to defend civil marriage for same-sex couples. To that end, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer each donated $100,000 to the cause.

Forever 21
Forever 21 founder Do Won Chang, along with his wife, Jin Sook, is a devout Christian who performs missionary work around the globe and claims the Bible is his favorite book. Chang, who came to the United States from South Korea in 1981, also co-runs the Chang 21 Foundation, which donates to churches and faith-based organizations, according to The Los Angeles Times. And every Forever 21 shopping bag comes with a Bible verse (John 3:16) stamped on the bottom: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Amway
On Thursday, Fred Karger, an LGBT rights activist, announced a world-wide boycott against Amway, the conservative direct-sales monolith. Karger obtained the tax records of Amway president and owner Doug DeVos and discovered that DeVos had donated $500,000 to the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) Education Fund, according to the Michigan Business Review. NOM was created five years ago to pass Proposition 8 in California, a constitutional amendment to prohibit same sex marriage. Karger told rawstory.com that DeVos' "appears to be the largest family donation to NOM in its history."

Dr. Bronner's Magic "All-One" Products
The debate over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has been raging in grocery stores across the country. Now it's headed to California, where voters will get to decide if many food products using GMOs are required to label them as such. The November ballot initiative is known as "The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act," or Proposition 37. If 37 is passed, not only will there be labeling requirements, but these foods will also be forbidden from labeling or advertising themselves as "natural." Those supporting the initiative include Dr. Bronner's, which has donated $290,000 to pro-37 groups; Nature's Path Food USA, ($250,709) and Amy's Kitchen ($25,000). The company says it does not use GMOs.

PepsiCo
Those on the other end of the spectrum -- that is, those who argue that, if passed, Prop 37 would increase food prices, encourage frivolous lawsuits and do nothing to protect the public's well-being -- include Pepsi, which has contributed $90,220 to efforts to oppose the Prop 37; Nestle ($61,471); and Coca-Cola ($61,209), according to Voters Edge, a nonpartisan guide to ballot measures.

Gold's Gym International
Gold's is a subsidiary of TRT Holdings, a private Texas corporation that also owns Omni Hotels and Tana Exploration, an oil and gas exploration firm. Its owner, CEO and president, Robert Rowling, has donated more than $1 million to American Crossroads, which was started by GOP political strategists Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, and the super PAC that supports Mitt Romney, Restore Our Future, according to opensecrets.org.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug012012

Talking Politics at Work Is Risky but People Do It Anyway

Hemera/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- If you want to make life easier for yourself at work, remember these three steadfast rules: don't gossip about the boss, don't fall asleep at your desk and don’t talk politics.

People can probably adhere to the first two rules, but a new CareerBuilder survey suggests it’s tough not to talk politics, especially during a particularly contentious election year.

Over a third of survey respondents admit they do chat with co-workers about candidates or hot button issues and 20 percent say that sometimes the arguments turn heated or even result in a fight.

What’s more, some respondents said they’ve gotten into a nasty political discussion with a higher-up in the company -- not exactly the best strategy for career advancement.

According to the survey, about 10 percent said their opinion about a co-worker changed after finding out about their political views and generally not for the better.

As for who likes to talk politics at work, it’s men more often than women while those 55 and older are most apt to discuss candidates and issues.  People 25 and under are the least likely to talk politics.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May012012

Osama Bin Laden Debate: Why Walmart Moms Won't Care

Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Alex Wong/Getty ImagesANALYSIS
By AMY WALTER, ABC News Political Director


(WASHINGTON) -- If you want to know why Americans are frustrated and fed up with Washington, I present exhibit A: the debate between Democrats and Republicans over Osama Bin Laden.

Democrats suggest that Mitt Romney may not have had the guts to take out the Al Qaeda leader while Republicans sniff that the president’s public preening over the successful operation is unseemly.

Americans, meanwhile, have been very clear that they want the candidates to fix the economy, not one-up each other on their anti-terrorism credentials. In January of 2012, 51 percent of Americans polled by ABC/Washington Post said that the economy was the single most important issue in their choice for President. A paltry 2 percent picked the issue of terrorism/national security.

Eight years ago, in the first presidential campaign after the 9/11 attacks, 22 percent of Americans said terrorism was their top concern. And, while the economy was important to their vote, just 26 percent said it was their top issue in the 2004 campaign.

Today, it is the GDP, not OBL that is driving this election. And, many Americans feel that Washington doesn’t understand or appreciate just how tough this economy has been on them.

Nowhere is this frustration more evident than among a group of 29 moms brought together by Walmart for an online discussion about the economy and the upcoming election.

These “Walmart moms” – defined as a voter with kids under 18 living at home who shops at Walmart at least once a month – are a sought-after demographic. Even more important, the women engaged in this online discussion were from the key battleground states of Florida, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The discussion was moderated by Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican polling firm, and Momentum Analysis, a Democratic firm. What they found was that these women are hurting financially. Almost every one of them had a story about how she and her family had to cut back, go without, or sacrifice.

When asked to pick their most important issue, all picked the economy or “domestic issues.” Not one picked “foreign policy issues like Iraq, Afghanistan or the war on terrorism.” Moreover, these women expressed a deep frustration with the disconnect between what they experience in their day-to-day lives and what they see going on in Washington.

In a memo outlining the findings, Alex Bratty of Public Opinion Strategies and Margie Omero of Momentum Analysis writes: “Walmart Moms are frustrated with the state of the country, but they are skeptical about Washington’s ability to address the key issues that will have a positive, tangible impact on their household. These moms do not feel well represented. They see their elected officials and candidates running for office – whether for President or Member of Congress – as being elitist, out‐of‐touch and often focused on the wrong issues: arguing about social issues when they should be discussing ways to improve the economy, reduce gas prices and get the country back on track.”

So, while Democrats and Republicans bicker over the death of a terrorist leader killed over a year ago, these Walmart moms, and many just like them, are probably tuning them out.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul222011

Wall Street Elites Open Wallets for Obama, DNC

Burke/Triolo Productions/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- One year after President Obama signed into law the most sweeping overhaul of the U.S. financial system since the Great Depression, support for his re-election among some Wall Street elites remains strong.

Eighty wealthy and well-connected volunteer fundraisers, or bundlers, from the financial sector have together raised at least $11.8 million for Obama’s re-election campaign, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission data by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan government watchdog.

Individuals working in finance, insurance or real estate markets contributed roughly one-third of all money raised by Obama’s 244 bundlers -- more than any other industry -- the Center found.

Nine of the 27 financiers, who each brought in more than $500,000 during April, May and June, have been tied to the financial industry.  They include former Goldman Sachs CEO Jon Corzine; Evercore Partners executive Charles Meyers; Greenstreet Real Estate Partners CEO Steven Green; and former UBS executive Blair Effron.

The findings contrast an erosion of support for Obama among employees of Goldman Sachs, who were once among his top financial backers. They donated overwhelmingly to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the second quarter, a computer-assisted analysis of the FEC data by Bloomberg found.

Some financial sector employees have been rankled by the 2010 financial overhaul because it imposed stiff new rules on banks, added regulation of hedge fund managers and limits on some executives’ bonuses, among other things.  Mr. Romney opposes the law.

The Obama campaign voluntarily released all the names of its bundlers last week, providing an estimated range of their contributions, which total at least $35 million.  No Republican candidate has done the same, breaking with a precedent of transparency set by President George W. Bush.  

During the entire 2008 presidential campaign, financial sector bundlers raised at least $16.1 million for Obama, according to CRP.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio