Most Americans still think we have three, but we really have five branches of government: The executive (White House), the judicial (Supreme Court), the legislative (Congress), the financial branch (Federal Reserve) -- and if you count the Corporate Branch (via their lobbyists on K Street in Washington D.C.) -- we'd have five branches of government.
* NOTE: In the hierarchy chart below Bank of America, Boeing and Koch Industries were only used as examples.
Currently the president in the executive branch is more likely to sign legislation, appoint judges, and advocate for the working-class. Democrats in the legislative branch are also more likely to introduce laws and tax provisions that benefit the working-class, the poor, and unemployed. Conservative judges in the judicial branch almost always favor corporations over the working-class (e.g. Citizens United), whereas the corporate branch of government ALWAYS favors corporations and the top 1% over the working-class.
Many people think that the IRS should also be counted as a branch of government, but the IRS only does what congress tells them to...but it's the corporations, via their lobbyists, who tells congress what to do.
Some people may think the Department of Defense might also be considered another branch of government, but that is covered under the Corporate Branch of government, on behalf of government contractors in the massive military industrial complex (e.g. Boeing and CEO James McNerney, Lockheed Martin and CEO Robert Stevens, Northrop Grumman and CEO Wes Bush, etc.) who have interests in all 50 States. Your vote for members of congress has no bearing at all on how many aircraft carriers are built, when we go to war, or what is spent on "defense".
Big oil and natural gas in the energy industry is also represented by the Corporate Branch, not by the Department of Energy. (Read Keystone Pipeline: It's WE who should get into the oil business! Despite what many Americans still believe, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is not a branch of government, but is a conservative lobbying firm, and also falls under the Corporate Branch of government.
And what do these larger corporations and their very highly-paid lobbyists tell our congress to do?
One example would be: Allow the natural gas and oil industry to sell and export energy for the highest bid on the commodities market (no matter how "energy independent" we might be), and raising the taxpayer's prices on heat, electricity, and gasoline for individuals and small businesses - - all in the name of ever higher profits for corporations that also get taxpayer-paid government subsidies, but might pay no taxes at all, no matter how profitable those corporations already might be. If we complain about giving away free taxpayer money to BIG OIL, they accuse us of being un-American!
Corporations and their very highly-paid lobbyists also tell congress to tax the poor and middle-class taxpayers at a higher personal tax rate than their executives have to pay - - and also to give the under-taxed CEOs more tax incentives to allow their corporations to outsource more taxpayer's jobs.
The corporations and their lobbyists kept the federal minimum wage at $7.25 a hour, or $15,080 a year before taxes. Ask a corporate CEO or lobbyist and their families to try and live on that - - to pay for rent, heat, and food and buy healthcare insurance.
Now we have 50% of all U.S. workers who earn less than $26,364 a year - - and the government says the poverty level for a family of four is $22,350. If any of those families could have afforded their own healthcare insurance, they would have paid an average of $414 per month last year.
Many Americans now earn so little that many are absolved from having to pay any federal income taxes at all (but they still must pay all other taxes). Yet the Republicans, the top 1%, and Fox News like to rail against those people for "not paying any taxes" and for "not having any skin in the game", as if somehow they were all a bunch of lazy tax cheaters trying to game the system.
And how else are the working-class's and middle-class's tax money spent? Congress gives away taxpayer money to bail out failing and mismanaged corporations that have already profited from us; congress gives away taxpayer money to cover the losses of big banks that have already gouged us for centuries; congress gives away taxpayer money for more subsidies - - even to the most profitable corporations, just so that they can do more of the same.
Every year, year after year, congress gives away almost half of all taxpayer money in defense spending alone, but the Republicans have been bitterly complaining about the much smaller amount we give away in food stamps to feed the now-poor American families who were hit by the economic downturn in 2008 before Obama was elected.
The working-poor and once middle-class taxpayers were either laid off from their jobs, lost their homes, and /or had their wages and hours cut. If they collected an unemployment check they were vilified by the Republican members of congress. The Republicans have been utterly repugnant in their assessment of these hard-working and law-abiding Americans...calling them lazy drug addicts, when many of them are grandmothers, military veterans, and college graduates.
And what did the poor and middle-class taxpayers get in return from these five branches of government for all their hard-earned taxes?
30 million under-employed and unemployed Americans must now rely on food stamps just to eat. Millions of their jobs were sent overseas, millions had their homes foreclosed on, and millions are now earning near or below poverty wages. Millions have lost their voices in government. Millions have lost their American Dream.
We don't yet know how many lives were lost directly related to the recession and unemployment, but from all the data currently available, suicides have also dramatically risen.
But today most people in our Five Branches of Government are fighting back hard on behalf of the top 1% against the Occupy Wall Street movement (the other 99%).
And not one single person in our five branches of government has suffered at all during the entire Great Recession, but instead, have actually fared much better. But yet they're still not satisfied, and they want the rest of us to suffer even more with cuts in government assistance - - such as TANF, Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment benefits, and Social Security...just so that the top 1% won't have to pay any more in taxes. Just the opposite, they are already paying historically low tax rates but now they want to pay less in taxes!
This is the "shared sacrifice" that our five branches of government wants to impose on the other 99%.
And it's so perplexing as to why Republican voters always vote against their own best interests, and they still believe the Republican's old and cruel 30-year hoax about "trickle down economics" - - - and they still think that we only only have three branches of government.