MONEY INFLUENCES POLICY MAKING IN AMERICAN GOVERNMENT?…

…not in our of beloved country! Yeah, right! It’s true, America is based on a free market capitalist system but, I thought that was supposed to be in the realm of the economy only. I guess in our free market economy, that means money can buy anything, including politicians and votes in Congress and state legislatures. I’m not so naive to believe this is a new phenomenon, but it is a phenomenon that has grown in size, wealth, and influence. When I was a kid growing up in the Washington D.C. area, there was never the talk or common knowledge of lobbyists and corruption influencing the directions our government takes daily. It was probably there to a small extent, but I think the strength of the national Congressional leadership, Lyndon Johnson, Barry Goldwater, Hubert Humphrey, Bobby and ted Kennedy, Everett Dirkson, John McCormack, etc. directed the flow and content of legislation, not the lobbyists. K Street wasn’t even heard of except the name of a street in Washington during those times. Through the last three decades, K Street has grown into the power and seat of our national government. The major lobbyists office on K Street and peddle their influence from there.

I ask people to watch politicians as they work a room or audience of “regular” citizens. You will notice that very few of them really get “engaged” with the people. They act like they are listening to a citizens’ concerns but, in their heads these are not their constituency. Their constituency resides in Washington, offices on K Street, and works in the halls and offices on Capitol Hill. The American people have a smaller and smaller voice in actions of the government of our so-called democracy. As you read this over-view to this point, does this make you proud as a citizen of our democratic form of government? It does not matter what political party you side with or what you’re political ideology is. This concept or reality should be greatly disturbing to you. As a point of newer fact, K Street has now become more of a metaphor for lobbyist central, as many have moved their offices elsewhere in the DC area to avoid publicity and notoriety.

Every state and commonwealth capital city are now micro-versions of Washington and the money influence. To reference Minnesota as an example, the great years of enlightened progressivism that the state had always been famous for has been replaced with legislation and politics being more influenced by corporate and conservative special interests. When Minnesota was always number one on quality of life measurements it was when businesses, corporations, and individuals were taxed fairly to balance quality of life and check book balancing. Now, Minnesota ranks in the 30’s for corporate taxation, we pay far less in personal income tax than we did only 30 years ago. Because of a ceaseless cascade of tax cuts and budget cuts the past twelve years, the state is now anything but state to be proud of. Corporate and special interests have so upset the balance we once enjoyed in our once great state, only in the name of padding their own pockets. I still say, if tax cuts create jobs, Minnesota should be number one in the world in job creation. The cold hard fact is, tax cuts go directly to business’ bottom line and to wealthy individuals’ growing bank account balances.

America needs to wake up and start fighting back against the money and special influence on government. It’s supposed to be “our” government, not the puppet of Corporate America. Now to make matters worse, the SCOTUS made the most outrageous and activist ruling in the history of the United States. Directed by nobody, they decided to rule on their own to grant personal, therefore, first amendment rights to corporations. The laughable aspect of this ruling is listening to conservatives rail against activist judges and courts! This ruling has the potential to disrupt the whole concept of democracy and so far the only outrage has come from the President and the Democrats. The Republicans need to understand that this ruling at some point will make them disposable as well by the whims of corporations. At a time when I say the power and influence in government by the money of lobbyists is out of control, the SCOTUS ruling only re-enforces the present pattern and will ultimately strengthen it.

The first step to overcome this SCOTUS ruling is Congress needs to write and enact laws that will render the ruling moot. That is the only way to rid the government of this massive shift to corporate influence.

Coming before Congress in the near future are four items where the influence of corporate and special interests will be very prominent. The President has moved up the writing of an immigration reform bill. This is a result of Arizona’s renegade passage of their own “anti-immigration” legislation. In spite of what the prevailing thought in Arizona is, as a state , they cannot enact immigration law. It is for the federal government only to ensure all states are treated and dealt with equally. What Arizona has done is basically a violation of the U.S. Constitution. Now Congress will take up the matter, I’m sure with lots of pressure coming from both sides of the issue by lobbyists attempting to promote their own agenda. Next, we already have in progress Wall Street and financial industry reform legislation. The money is pouring into Washington. These entities want to continue in their present deregulated status, so that they may continue to rape, rob, and pillage innocent Americans. These entities are enjoying record profits, even after accepting TARP and stimulus funds from Washington. These industries are being led by greedy fat-cat criminals and Congress must regulate them back into businesses that must operate in a moral and ethical fashion. At one point the insurance industry was spending 1.5 million dollars per week lobbying Congress in their fight against insurance and health care reform. You think Wall Street and the banks will hold back on their lobbying efforts to protect their profit raping machines? The recent headlines of exploding coal mines and oil spills are pictures of government being manipulated by money and lobbying. These personal and environmental disasters are simply a result of the private energy industry policing themselves. With little or no government oversight, every cost-cutting corner that could be cut was. The result, 40 people dead, and an ecosystem on the verge of decimation in the Gulf. Both of these companies responsible for these catastrophes have paid many “pittances” for fines for safety and environmental violations. They have decided in the corporate boardrooms that profits come over personnel safety and environmental protection. These three issues for impending legislation are crystal clear examples of why Washington needs to be cleaned up. Total up the human, environmental, and financial costs these three issues have cost the country by not reigning them in. This is not only an outrage against the sensibilities of Americans but also against the pocket-book of America. Regardless of your political inclination, can you, as Americans, not see the injustice brought upon us as a result of the influence of money in governing?

The fourth important issue to face the President and the Senate this year is the nominating and voting on a new Justice for the Supreme Court. Once the President has made his choice for nomination, the money will again pour into Washington to sway Senate voting. This money will be coming from both sides. The conservative interests will initiate the process and then the progressive side will have to respond in order to get and keep the ear of the Senators. It’s such a rotten process of criminality! We should all be ashamed.

I believe there is a three stage process to clean up the actions of our state and federal governments. First, enact laws to overcome and make null the activist ruling of the SCOTUS. Second, enact campaign finance reform with teeth. Shut down all PAC’s and 527 groups. And then go to a 100% government-funded campaigns, insuring a level playing field for all candidates. If that goal is unattainable, restrict campaign donations to private citizens only with a low dollar cap. Third, throw all the lobbyists out of the governments and make the politicians who violate the rule regarding anything involving lobbyists subject to a minimum of congressional censure to the possibility of impeachment from their office. Carefully write all the new laws in such a way that there will be no loop holes for opportunistic politicians and their legal counsel to violate them.
These seem like simplistic fixes, but how complicated does it need to be? Thanks for today’s read, and have a great weekend.

Cam Obert

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One Response to “MONEY INFLUENCES POLICY MAKING IN AMERICAN GOVERNMENT?…”

  1. youandmedoweagree Says:

    Biggest lobbyists in the country are your beloved unions.

    Submitted by Bob Annen

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