It’s easy to argue that the most powerful folks in Washington today are the members of a bipartisan panel nicknamed the “supercommittee,” the 12 lawmakers charged with recommending ways to take a big bite out of the national debt.
The group, which is made up of three Democrats and three Republicans from each chamber of Congress, is responsible for finding at least $1.2 trillion in savings over the next 10 years. Congress has until the end of November to pass the group’s plan, or else draconian cuts kick in. The catch? Lawmakers can’t make changes to the group’s proposal, they can only vote yes or no.
That puts a lot of power into the hands of the supercommittee.
So who in the education world has given a lot of money to these supercommittee members?
Not surprisingly, the nation’s largest teachers’ union, the National Education Association, cracks the list of the top 50 donors, according to Open Secrets, a website of campaign contribution data run by the Center for Responsive Politics.
NEA comes in 32 on that list of top 100 donors to the supercommitte. The union gave $297,650 to supercommittee members from 1989 to 2011. Eighty-nine percent of that money went to the Democrats on the supercommittee, while just about 10 percent of it went to Republicans.
The American Federation of Teachers wasn’t far behind, with $215,950 in donations, all of it to the committee’s Democrats. That puts the AFT at 68th on the list of top 100 donors.
That means, together, the unions have given $513,600 to supercommittee members over the last 10 years. If you lump NEA and AFT together (Open Secrets does not), they’d be fifth on the list of big donors, right behind AT&T and Microsoft.
Still, NEA and AFT’s contributions pale in comparison to more than $1 mllion in campaign contributions from the Club for Growth, a political action committee that supports candidates who favor low-taxes and slimmed down government.