Published on November 10th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan3
How Congress is Bought
This is why the U.S. doesn’t have a national climate change policy. This is why China is eating our lunch on clean energy investment. This is why U.S. oil companies and many other companies don’t pay billions of dollars in taxes – in fact, some pay -58% in taxes.
I could include all the points here in text, as I thought about doing several times, but I think the most useful thing is to just watch the video linked above (embedding is disabled).
Just to whet your appetite a little, though, here are a few quotes:
- I was actually thinking of writing a book – “The Idiot’s Guide to Buying a Congressman” – as a way to put this all down. First, I think most congressmen don’t feel they’re being bought….
- When we would become friendly with an office and they were important to us, and the chief of staff was a competent person, I would say or my staff would say to him or her at some point, “You know, when you’re done working on the Hill, we’d very much like you to consider coming to work for us.” Now, the moment I said that to them, or any of our staff said that to ‘em, that was it. We owned them.
- At the end of the day most of the people that I encountered who worked on Capitol Hill wanted to come work on K Street, wanted to be lobbyists.
- The reform efforts continually are these faux-reform efforts where they’ll change, they’ll tweak the system. They’ll say, “You can have a meal with a congressman if they’re standing up, not sitting down” … You can’t take a congressman to lunch for $25 and buy him a hamburger or a steak of something like that. But you can take him to a fundraising lunch and not only buy him that steak, but give him $25,000 extra and call it a fundraiser. And have all the same access and all the same interaction with that congressman. So the people who make the reforms are the people in the system.
- I think people are under the impression that the corruption only involves somebody handing over a check and getting a favor. And that’s not the case. The corruption, the bribery, call it, because ultimately that’s what it is. That’s what the whole system is… it is done everyday and it is still being done. The truth is there were very few members who I could even name or could think of who didn’t at some level participate in that.