Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Is Our Congress Corrupt? 3


It is very expensive to run for Congress. The federal kind, not the state, although that probably costs quite a bit too.
There's various factors that can affect the total cost of an election depending on the scale of the campaign. If your an incumbent who has held your seat for the last 20 or 30 years, and face no serious opposition, then your campaign will likely not cost as much as a race that is highly contested.
In 2008, the last general election, on the average to run in the House of Representatives it will cost about 1.1 million dollars. Congressmen and women have to run every two years, so they have to come up with that kind of cash every two years. For the Senate the cash figure is approximately 6.5 million every six years, and this was before the disastrous Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court which equates money as free speech (just like Mitt Romney equating corporations as people), and allows unlimited campaign contributions, so in a highly contested race the sky's the limit as far as how much money can be spent by so-called superpacs, or wealthy individuals, as we're seeing currently with Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum being backed by individual billionaires.
As a general rule of thumb members of the House wake up each day knowing they need to raise $2,000.00, not including the weekends. $10,000.00 a week. They accomplish this in various ways; directly calling campaign donors (they'll spend about 10 hours a week doing this), attend fund raising events, or Political Action Committee (PAC) events, through direct mailing to constituents, and soliciting funds online (when Al Frankin first ran for the Senate I contributed to his campaign, and I've been receiving Email solicitations from him and his lovely wife Franny ever since, and he's not even my senator). As far as the Senate goes, retired senator George Voinovich (R-OH) states a typical senator will spend 20 to 25% of their time fundraising.
So our Congress-people and Senators are always hungry for cash. They need it on a daily basis. That's why we hear so much about them getting busted on home burglary charges and car jackings. Oh, wait a minute, I'm sorry, that's heroin and meth addicts who get busted for home burglaries and car jackings.
Well I guess those who work in the U.S. Capital and heroin and meth addicts have a lot in common.
I don't know about you, dear readers, but when I vote for a senator or congress-person, I want them to go to Washington to work on my behalf, not spend a quarter of their time raising money so they can keep their jobs come the next election.
It helps that our elected officials in Congress are usually independently wealthy people. You rarely see folks from skid row here in L.A. running for Congress.
But congress-people and senators rarely use their own money in campaigns. That's why you see presidential candidate Mitt (Mitt) Romney constantly soliciting campaign contributions even though he's a multimillionaire. Why don't they use there own cash you ask. Good question. They don't because they don't have to, and they're cheap. And people who self-finance their campaigns have a tendency to lose. Just ask Meg Whitman.
Now a lot of the people or entities that candidates receive campaign contributions from represent special interests. People or corporations, or industries that may want something in return for their cash later on.
I know! It seems amazing, but it's true.
There are so many examples of this kind of crap going on in Congress it's really unbelievable. Let me start with the so called JOBS — or Jumpstart Our Business Startups — Act. Sounds good doesn't it? America needs jobs. Unemployment is still high. We want small businesses to thrive. But just like the "Financial Services Modernization Act," of 1999, and the Commodities Futures Modernization Act of 2000, sponsored by Senator Phil Gramm, may he rot in hell, and eagerly signed into law by Bill Clinton, instead of modernizing anything, it repealed the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which had imposed banking reforms in the wake of the 1929 stock market crash which led directly to the Great Depression of the 1930s. Glass-Steagall was designed to control banking speculation, Clinton repealed it happily stating "This legislation is truly historic. 'We have done right by the American people.''
Eight years later we had the financial meltdown of 2007/2008 which we're still recovering from.
And now were doing it again! Amazing.
According to Richard Eskow of Campaign for America's Future, the Jobs Act will "Once again basic protections for investors, including individuals and families, are being recklessly overturned in a deregulating frenzy." It "undoes Sarbanes-Oxley's key provisions. In a typically cynical move, the corrupt dealmakers of DC have appropriated two good ideas - "crowdfunding" by individuals, as is done on Kickstarter, and the need to find investment capital for small and medium-sized businesses that are the engines of job growth. But this bill will actually hurt both those efforts. Kickstarter finances creative projects, where it's fairly easy for investors to decide whether they feel a project has artistic merit. But this bill will unleash a torrent of unscrupulous scam artists onto the public, leaving them unable to decide which project has merit and which doesn't. Since these ventures won't be required to provide some basic financial data, many of them will bilk their investors - drying up the pool of available capital for truly worthwhile startups. Worse, the bill is designed so that even billion-dollar corporations can be considered "startups," leaving the door open for a dozen Enrons of tomorrow to shaft the unwary. The common-sense protections proposed by Sen. Jeff Merkley were rejected, while the equally rational protections of Sens. Scott Brown and Jack Reed, which were passed, will be fairly easy for clever sharks to swim around. We've seen this play before, and it never has a happy ending. That will no longer be required of them, thanks to the "JOBS" Act."
The House passed this bill March 8th with 158 democrats signing on, and of course all of the republicans (9 abstained). The Senate passed it last Thursday, with 26 democrats giving an Aye vote, and again all the republicans. The president says he's going to sign this piece of crap, after it reconciled in the House. So on the one hand you have Obama creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to supposedly protect consumers from unscrupulous lenders, and on the other hand he's about to sign into law a bill that will allow investors to easily get ripped off. How can this be explained?
It's an election year, congress-people and senators (and the president) need campaign funds, so they are exceptionally amenable to do the bidding of their Wall Street masters. In other words they're being paid to pass a law that will relax Wall Street regulations, regulations that were put into place to ensure another 2007/2008 financial meltdown does not occur.
And in a few years when another financial crisis does inevitably occur they'll surely say, "well who could have seen this coming."
And why should they care? They're making money hand over fist on these kind of deals. It's only us, the American people, the middle class, the 90%, who will pay the price for their reckless BS.
Is our Congress corrupt?
Why yes... it is.

To be continued

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