Saturday, October 1, 2011

Politics and money - a corrupt alliance

I note with cynical amusement that the twelve lawmakers appointed to the 'Supercommittee' charged with reducing federal expenditure are receiving an unsurprising amount of attention (not to mention largesse) from familiar sources. The Washington Times reports:

When congressional leaders earlier this month named six lawmakers from each party to a debt reduction “supercommittee,” investing unprecedented power in a tiny cadre to slash funding, they set off a wild scramble among special interest groups to gain access and protect their interests.

Yet many groups with the most at stake didn’t have to change their plans. Some members of the supercommittee received more campaign contributions in July from political action committees controlled by corporations, unions and other lawmakers than anyone else in Congress, disclosures filed this weekend show.

. . .

The bulk of the nearly half-million dollars given to supercommittee members came from PAC's linked to the finance, insurance, real estate, and health industries — all of which stand to lose billions if committee members don’t protect their interests.

“They’ve already had longstanding relationships with these members and had them in their sights,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political influence. Now, the supercommittee members are “going to attract donations by virtue of living.”

Nearly all of the PAC contributions are in the thousands of dollars and come from groups aiming to further the mission of a trade group, corporation or labor union. The totals aren’t complete, because many groups report spending not on a monthly basis, but twice a year.

Doctors’ groups, whose business would be roiled by Medicare reform, gave tens of thousands of dollars to debt committee members; the PAC of the United Services Automobile Association, which sells insurance to military families, gave $27,000; the American Bankers Association gave $14,000; and two labor groups representing government employees even made donations to Republican supercommittee members.

There's more at the link.

Who was it said that America's politicians are 'the best money can buy'? There have been calls for 'greater transparency' from Supercommittee members: but, if you believe that will happen, there's this bridge in Brooklyn, NYC, I'd like to sell you. Cash only, please, and in small bills . . .

You'll have noted the American Bankers Association listed as a major donor. The reason for their urgent desire to influence lawmakers isn't hard to find. The recently-implemented Dodd-Frank Act drastically reduced the amount banks can charge for a debit card transaction. Coming on top of reductions in credit card transaction charges, this has slashed a major revenue stream for the banks - who are now trying to take it out of their customers' hides instead. Inevitably, this is causing a growing groundswell of opposition and outrage. (See, for example, these reports on BoA and Citibank's new fees and charges, and reactions to them.) The banks want to pre-empt lawmakers listening to that outrage by bribing them making donations to their re-election campaigns, in the hope that they'll be sympathetic to the banks' position.

May I make a suggestion to my readers? Let's try to spread the word to vote out of office any politician, from any political party, who accepts donations from companies or pressure groups trying to influence his vote on legislation that involves or concerns them. Let's make the politicians raise their money from the people who vote them into (and out of) office, rather than faceless corporations and lobbyists who have no vote in that process. Impossible, you say? I don't think so at all. Find a candidate who's honest, open and reasonable, and the people of his or her district will support them - at least, that's what I think. Others may differ.

Politics. Corruption. But I repeat myself . . .



trailbee said...

CA here - can we play? :)

Anonymous said...

should be a law.. no contributions from anyone other than individuals.
maybe with a ten dollar max.
then we would see what the politicians think of us.

Old NFO said...

And they STILL won't do s**t...