Policies & Politics

Published on November 10th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan


How Congress is Bought

November 10th, 2011 by

how lobbyists buy Congress

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.

Full transcript here, if you’re the reading type, but I really recommend watching the video.

h/t Red, Green, and Blue

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.

  • John Hartz

    Suggested reading:

    “Capitalism vs. the Climate”, Naomi Klein, The Nation, Nov 8, 2011


    Klein’s article is one of the best-written explanations of the “politics” of climate change that I have ever read.

  • Greed plain and simple, and I don’t understand how $money$ from these campaign donations over-rides the wants and needs of the American Taxpayer. I’m disgusted with all Politicians and believe that: “Politicians are like diapers and should be changed regularly–for the same Reason”

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