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Posts Tagged ‘lobbyists’


Tired and frustrated about Washington, D.C.?  Do you believe that Congress is out of touch with the people?  Do you believe that Congress does not represent us and instead represents special interests with their legions of lobbyists and big campaign donations.  It also seems clear that those in Congress have a sole purpose of continuing to serve and this purpose is to do everything and anything they can to remain in Congress.  Have you noticed that those who retire usually retire very wealthy?

Where else can we be told time and time again how the Congress will clean up its act, yet we suffer powerful committee chairpersons and rules designed to keep and grow the status quo.  The affliction of power brought about by seniority affects both parties.  Our two party system appears to be the problem and not the solution – ideology takes second place to capturing power and remaining in office.  Their real constituent is reelection!  We routinely return the incumbent to Congress at greater than a 90% rate.  Something is radically wrong when the very people who complain about the Congress, us, routinely return their representatives to Congress more than 90% of the time.  Perhaps this 90% return rate is not totally our fault, but can be traced to the design of the election system, campaign funding, and the support of special interests.  Does it seem right that your Congressman or Congresswoman is more influenced by money from outside his or her district?  Why should some agricultural company in Hawaii be allowed to monetarily influence a Congressman from an industrial district in Pennsylvania?  It happens that money flows in to Congressional campaigns from all over the United States and yes, Europe and China, among other places.  Why is it okay for everyone in the world to buy the loyalty of your representation in Washington?

If and when you call your representative in Congress, you will most likely get voice mail that asks you to leave a message about your issue.  They keep raising the funding for the staffing of their offices, yet there is no one to answer the phone?  These people feel so insulated that they have openly and brazenly discussed, and in committee voted to add a voting representative in Congress to the District of Columbia and the State of Utah.  This is highly unconstitutional behavior – the Constitution is crystal clear on how representation is handled and representation is not established by the Congress at their whim.  This vote in committee and soon to be a floor vote represents the ultimate example of people serving in Congress suffering the aphrodesiac of unchecked power.

What can we do about our Congress?  Can we amend the Constitution?  Congress controls the Constitutional amendment process or do they?  Our Constitution provides for an alternate amendment process, one initiated by the states.  A state can call for a constitutional convention and if two thirds of the states agree, i.e. 34 states, it convenes.  The states send representatives to the convention and any amendment coming out of the convention needs ratification by three fourths of the states, i.e. 38 states, to become an amendment of the United States Constitution.   Now you can petition your state legislators, your representatives in your capitol, for a constitutional convention to change Congress and to restore lost rights back to the states.

We can seek a change in how Senators are elected.  When the Constitution was adopted, it provided for election of Senators by the states legislatures and not direct election of the senators by the people.  While this method was subject to politics and political maneuvering, it gave the States a say in the size of the federal government, the judiciary, and foreign affairs through the Senate.  It was the seventeenth amendment that made this change.  We need to repeal the seventeenth and replace it with an amendment that provides for election of senators by their respective legislatures, with a restriction on recall requiring a two thirds vote in all houses of legislature of the state – Nebraska has only one house of legislature, while the others have two.  This would take the pandering and special interests out of the Senate, since Senators would not need multiple millions to run for reelection.  This amendment would add an additional check and balance – the state itself through its Senators.

We can seek an amendment that would limit campaign contributions in cash, property, or services to an individual residing or a corporation headquartered in the district of the congressional candidate – no political party contributions, thus only constituents are important to the member of Congress.

We can seek an amendment that requires all spending bills and any spending appropriation to be of like kind in a bill, be in the body of the bill with no spending amendments, and have gone through committee and been approved by the majority of the committee.  This will eliminate earmarks. 

We can seek a change in ballots across this nation for candidates for a federal office.  No longer can states make special rules that make it hard for third party candidates to get on state ballots for president and vice-president, or congressional representatives.  This would stimulate the candidacy of members of parties other than Democrat or Republican parties.

We can seek term limits on members of the House of Representatives to three terms.  This will eliminate the individual absolute power some members of Congress have achieved.

These few amendments will re-establish this republic and fix the now forever and perpetually corrupt Congress.  Members of Congress are addicted to a drug of Congressional power and will never give it up on their own.  We need to make this change through the states – push your state representatives to make these changes.  Tell them these amendments will provide the states with more rights and make it easier and less costly for the state representatives to run for federal office.

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Have you ever thought that the actions of your Representative in the House or by your Senators defy reason? Have you ever wondered why Congress can’t act on clear cut initiatives? Have you ever wondered why the voice of the people appears not to be heard? Well, here is why.

Welcome to Lobbying 101!

There are 22,000 registered government lobbyists. Tom Daschle (Barack Obama’s campaign co-chair) , his wife, and his son are registered lobbyists. These lobbyists do not just lobby Congress. They also lobby The White House, and all White Houses offices, including the Office of the Vice-President, and all Executive Departments. Incredibly they even lobby The White House’ National Security Council. These lobbyists not only saturate Capitol Hill, they also lobby the numerous Government Agencies reporting to Congress. Here is a partial list of the number of lobbyists by client industry:

  • Agriculture / Agronomy – (corn ethanol included here) 453
  • Banking / Finance 755
  • Energy / Electricity 685
  • Environment / Conservation 691
  • Foreign Relations 685
  • Governments and Government Related (this included your city and state) 896

The lobbying information was courtesy of http://www.lobbyists.info/

The Government and the Government Relations lobbies are my favorite. Congress and the Executive Branch are so tied up by lobbyists, your tax dollars have to pay for 896 lobbyists hired by your city, county, and state with your tax dollars just so you can be heard in Washington D.C. Just how mixed up are we?

My second favorite is the lobby of the National Security Council – these NSC folks make recommendations to the President on matters of National Security – just what does a lobbyist do here and why are they entitles to interfere. Again, just how mixed up are we?

Just how much money do these 22,000 people and their firms give to Senate and House campaigns every two and six years? How much pressure against your best interest comes from the lobbyist when they, their family, and their firm have contributed to your Representative or Senators? How much are your Representative or Senators selling their soul when they very subtly point out to a lobbyist that they did not see their name on the campaign donor list? You see it is illegal to ask a lobbyist directly for campaign contributions, while in government buildings or on government property. Are we sure that some of the very plentiful quasi-secret earmarks are not going to lobbyist projects to pay the lobbyist back for a contribution? Rest assured your Senators and Representative are literally selling their services. The good ones have no choice but to partake because they must keep up with the corrupt ones to stay in office. They are on a never ending fund raising carousel.

If we are to ever take our country back from the special interests represented by these lobbyists, we must take the money out of the lobbyist’s game. The Federal Elections Commission website lists individual contribution limits as follows:

To each candidate or candidate committee per election To national party committee per calendar year To state, district & local party committee per calendar year To any other political committee per calendar year[1] Special Limits
Individual
may give
$2,300* $28,500* $10,000
(combined limit)
$5,000 $108,200* overall biennial limit:

  • $42,700* to all candidates
  • $65,500* to all PACs and parties[2]

For more from the Federal Elections Commission on limits click here.

Based on this chart, if each lobbyist gives the maximum to each candidate, then combined all candidates would receive $939 Million. Each lobbyist is restricted to giving a combined $42,700 to all candidates and more if spouses were not registered lobbyists. Of course, all lobbyists are not going to give to all candidates and all spouses are not going to give. However, let’s consider the Banking and Finance lobby. This lobby can give each member of the House Committee on Financial Services and the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking $2,300. Combined, assuming that only one third of the Senate committee is up for election, the 77 committee members up for election might receive $134 Million or $1.7 Million each ($2,300 x 755 lobbyists x 77 members). Ask yourself why we are in a mortgage crisis?

SOLUTION?

The only solution to reigning in the Federal Government and our lost representation is to take the money out of Congressional election campaigns. This will need to be done with two or more Constitutional amendments.

The first would be the repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment, which stripped the States of their right to have a say in the Federal Government. Senators, until 1913 were elected by your state legislature and not by the people. This meant that the U.S. Senators answered to your state house and not lobbyists on your behalf.

The second would be to severely restrict ALL House campaign contributions to INDIVIDUALS PRIMARILY RESIDING in the district for that campaign. Only individual constituents, you, may contribute. You will not be competing with any influences from outside your district. All candidates will have to dip into the same pool, whether it be a wealthy or a poor district. When your Representative gets to Congress, you will have that person’s undivided attention.

Contact your state representatives and ask them to have your state legislature require Congress to call a Constitutional Convention to consider these changes. When two thirds of the states request the Convention, the amendments can be ratified by a three fourths vote at the Convention or a polling of the states and Congress will have nothing to say about it.

Read more about the proposed amendments and why we need them at: Why Is Congress The Way It Is?

We can either take back our Congress or continue to watch this nation’s ruination. We no longer have representation in Congress – it was not supposed to be like this. In the interim, you might start by NOT voting for any incumbents, no matter how good you might think they are. This will place 468 new fannies into the House and the Senate – it is a start.

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What’s wrong?

  • Gas at the pump soaring!
  • Food used as fuel – ethanol – adopted without an understanding of its impact – pushed by lobbyists!
  • Oil Companies still receive federal subsidies!
  • Food prices soaring!
  • Congress intentionally slowing completion of the border fence.
  • Earmarks costing the taxpayers billions!
  • Congress using earmarks to return favors to campaign contributors.
  • Lobbyists / special interests contributing to Congressional campaigns, heavily influencing your Representatives.
  • Congress regularly deferring to lobbyists over the voter.
  • Seniority system in Congress fueling almost absolute power to a select few Senators and Representatives.
  • Congress riddled with ethics violations, both rule violations and moral violations.
  • Rampant disregard of the public trust.
  • Senators and Representatives entering Congress with little personal wealth and leaving with great personal wealth.
  • Partisan politics nearly always trumps what is good for America and good for the American people.
  • Funds wasted on earmarks and redundant Federal programs.
  • America’s sovereignty and national security at risk due to oil.
  • America’s oil independence abdicated by Congress in favor of lobbyists.
  • Congress is 38% lawyers.

This list should be enough of an indictment on Congress and how it functions to warrant changes – big changes. Today’s Congress does not run as was intended by the founding fathers. Why should your Representatives be listening to and acting upon requests from constituents of other Districts and States and not you? Why would a Senator or Representative take actions contrary to the well being of their constituent and nation? It is all about money! Money for reelection to perpetuate this non-representation of constituents. Money to be able to leave Congress very wealthy. Congress has become a lure for those who seek power and money from that power. Lobbyists provide the money to power campaigns in all sorts of devious ways. Senators and Representatives repay campaign contributors with un-debated and often weakly disclosed earmarked projects. Congress is almost the definition of broken government or more aptly corrupt government. Our Congress often makes the Iraqi and Mexican Parliaments look like a Boy Scout Jamboree.

Why is it wrong?

The Senate: The founding fathers placed checks and balances in the Constitution for the States to control the Federal Government. This was done to ensure that the States remained an equal partner. It was also done to keep power from being concentrated. In 1913, Congress, after years of trying to make Senate elections direct and not serve the legislatures, with the help of a powerful newspaper chain (Hearst Newspapers – Randolph Hearst felt he could control elections of Senators if they were directly elected, by swaying public opinion about the candidates) pushed through the Seventeenth Amendment – the House Joint Resolution 39 and the Ratification process are still questioned today as whether the Constitution was followed. The Congress with a strong popular movement by the voters due to the wide reaching Hearst chain’s agenda journalism was in an absolute rush to push the amendment through.

What did the amendment change? From the founding of this nation until the Seventeenth in 1913, Senators were elected by the States’ Legislatures and represented the States. Senators were obliged to mind the wishes of the States’ Legislatures. The Senate, the upper house, was the voice of the States in the Federal Government. The only lobby the Senators could really listen to was the lobby that elected them – their legislature. After the Seventeenth Amendment, the Senate was elected by directly by the voter, but this made them subject to the growing threat of lobbyists. Senate campaigns now run between ten million and one hundred million dollars, depending on location. This requires money from people, PAC’s, and corporations, not of your state, seeking to influence future votes on matters concerning them that may be contrary to your state’s needs. The direct election of Senators removed any control your State had over the growth of and the operation of the Federal Government.

The House of Representatives: The founding fathers intended the House to be the lower house, made up of citizen legislators. It was not to be a permanent home for Representatives serving for up to 50 years, as is the case of Representative John Dingell. These citizen legislators were to be the direct representative of the people of their district, serving the needs of the people of their district, and listening only to the people of their district. Today, to run for the House of Representatives, it will cost upwards of $5 Million for both the primary and general elections. This money primarily comes from outside your Congressional District. It comes from lobbyists in devious ways, corporations, again in devious ways, and from political parties. Since most of the money for the campaign does not come from the District, you do not get represented, the contributors do. Someone or some entity in Florida does not contribute to a campaign in a Texas District, without expecting votes in return. Votes often not in your best interest.

What do we do about it?

First, fix the Senate and return checks and balances back to your State. Push, plead with, and prod your State Legislature, through a Constitutional Convention, to repeal the Seventeenth Amendment.

Second, return your House Representative to his or her role of Citizen Legislator. Take the big money out of the job. Remove the overarching influence on these Representatives away from people and entities not in your District. Push, plead with, and prod your State Legislature to, through that Constitutional Convention, to amend the Constitution to restrict campaign contributions to House candidate campaigns. Require candidates for the House of Representatives to only accept campaign contributions of money, property, or services in kind from INDIVIDUALS PRIMARILY RESIDING in the candidate’s district. No money from lobbyists outside the District, no money from Corporations, and no money from political parties. The cost of a campaign will drop dramatically, creating a level playing field for candidates. The elected representative from your District, will only have you the voter/constituent to serve.

Third, at that Constitutional Convention, push, plead with, and prod your State Legislature to, through the Convention, propose a Constitutional Amendment that restricts all spending bills to be of like nature, military, agriculture, health, etc, and spending provisions may not be including in an amendment – it must be in the main body of the bill and clearly disclose in the bill if it is a targeted expense to one District or to one State and not a broad based spending bill. This will eliminate earmarks.

Fourth, Simply do not vote for an incumbent in November. This will replace 468 sitting Senators and Representatives for the 111th Congress in 2009. How is that for a message to Congress?

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