Bribery and promises of opportunities to accumulate vast personal wealth while in elected office have eviscerated America’s electoral process, while lobbyists and their huge amounts of money and influence have largely supplanted our representative government.
To regain any semblance of effective governance we need to get the lobbyists and their tainted money out of our government system.
A case in point is the massive lobbying of the current Congressional Supercommittee! If you think this committee has deliberated our economic woes all by themselves, you are sadly mistaken. Lobbyists led by Grover Norquist have been hard at work, and the result of their intervention is complete failure.
Listening to Norquist joke about being the 13th or unofficial member of the Supercommittee on national TV is no laughing matter.
400-plus groups representing a broad range of interests, have been lobbying the committee members, but the No. 1 interest area among the clients with their sights on the Supercommittee was the health sector.
See graphic #1 Who's Lobbying the Supercommittee?
Some of our most powerful and influential elected offices are simply being purchased in one way or another by the 1%, the ultra-wealthy. It’s no surprise that huge numbers of our legislators cater to the 1%, and repeatedly deliver legislation favorable to the 1%, at the expense of America’s working and middle classes.
The disregard some legislators display for the welfare of our nation, for the 99% of average working persons, is fueled by their obligation to serve the masters who paid for their elections, and continue to support their wealthy lifestyles. Representatives often enter Congress beholden to the 1%, and then dig themselves further into political debt with the acceptance of each new contribution, favor or perk.
The majority of current congressional representatives don’t serve the 99% of the American people because so many of them are part of the 1%. They serve their own ambitions and self-interests and the lobbyists who come armed with millions of dollars from corporations and political organizations.
Ask yourself, “Are you 25% richer today than you were two years ago?” Congress is.
The net worth of our congressional representatives would amaze and confound most average Americans. It’s flabbergasting how many millionaires we currently have in congress - 47% or 250 of them, to be exact! Is it any wonder they have no empathy or understanding of working men and women?
These legislators invest their millions of dollars with the very same corporations they refuse to effectively regulate and which they insist on giving huge tax breaks to, thus helping pad their own pockets and personal bank accounts. Among the top ten corporate investments are General Electric, P & G, Exxon Mobile, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Pfizer
See graphic #2 Most Popular Congressional Investments
It is easy to see why these legislators are obstructionists and refuse to pass legislation that would help the President lead us out of this terrible recession. If these politicians ever had genuine concern for the electorate, that concern rapidly disappears once they enter public office.
Even more telling is the huge growth in legislators’ net worth year over year. While America continues to weather a terrible economic storm, the collective worth of the 535 members of congress rises annually and is in the billions of dollars.
More alarming is the fact that vast sums of hidden money from undisclosed contributors provide great influence for non-elected people like Grover Norquist. He boasts of being the most powerful man in or out of our government. Though he holds no government office, he delights in telling the media that he actually controls congress…and he effectively does. As the most powerful and well-funded lobbyist in the nation, he controls the shadow government that has supplanted our representative government.
And then we have people like Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House. Though he was drummed out of office under a cloud of scandal and disgrace, he almost immediately stepped into the lobbyist role and has raked in millions of dollars under the guise of being a consultant.
These Republican saboteurs certainly have their Democrat counterparts. Lobbyists and a whole myriad of other non-elected people make up America’s dangerous shadow government. Nobody elects them; yet they exercise a stranglehold on our legislative process.
The majority of Americans believe their Congressional representatives are doing a deplorable job. Congress’ approval rating is now at an all time low of just 9%. Members of Congress have brought our legislature to its knees; crippling it at a time when we most need an effective, functioning government to get us out of this economic nightmare and put people back to work.
The latest example of crippled government is the failure of the Supercommittee to deliver a workable plan after months of meetings heavily influenced by lobbyists and Grover Norquist.
We don’t have to accept this present state of do-nothing government by our elected legislators.
Americans have the power to turn things around; the power to remove these obstructionists from office and replace them with representatives who understand their obligation to serve the American people. The first order of business for new legislators should be criminalization of lobbying and the legal requirement that every PAC provide full financial disclosure.
We have the power, because we have the VOTE.