ACCORDING TO THE CENTER FOR RESPONSIVE POLITICS, the history of people lobbying (bribing) Congress for their own causes goes back to 1793. In fact, a detailed time line is available for studying by clicking on the blue words.
Right under our very noses, a system of buying off the men and women we voted for is in place and sanctioned by our government. And it’s not just pocket change.
The same site used to link the time line above, Opensecrets.org, tracks lobby money given to every politician from every source for every issue.
For instance, if we enter “Health“ into the spending data on the site, it will give us a summary of all the spending data going back to 1998, who the lobbyists were, who the recipients were and a breakdown by industry. There was a drop from $512 million in 2016 to $417 million distributed to Congress in 2017, but the number is still astronomical, considering that it is only one area of lobbying influence.
In 2017, these were the top spending lobbyists:
|US Chamber of Commerce||$58,155,000|
|National Assn of Realtors||$32,297,827|
|Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America||$19,871,250|
|Blue Cross/Blue Shield||$17,813,960|
|American Medical Assn||$17,445,000|
|American Hospital Assn||$16,373,933|
|National Assn of Broadcasters||$11,390,000|
|National Retail Federation||$10,500,000|
And these are the Congressional recipients of lobbyist money in 2017 alone.
Ryan, Paul (R-WI)$249,900
Tiberi, Pat (R-OH)$144,350
McCarthy, Kevin (R-CA)$138,975
Walden, Greg (R-OR)$121,319
Brady, Kevin (R-TX)$95,100
Scalise, Steve (R-LA)$87,050
Holding, George (R-NC)$75,450
Crowley, Joseph (D-NY)$70,170
McHenry, Patrick (R-NC)$70,050
Frelinghuysen, Rodney (R-NJ)$67,400
Comstock, Barbara (R-VA)$54,742
Nunes, Devin (R-CA)$48,350
Roskam, Peter (R-IL)$46,500
Smith, Jason (R-MO)$45,800
Graves, Garret (R-LA)$44,233
Sinema, Kyrsten (D-AZ)$43,934
Graves, Tom (R-GA)$43,157
Costello, Ryan (R-PA)$38,500
Rodgers, Cathy McMorris (R-WA)$37,400
Stefanik, Elise (R-NY)$36,100
So you get the idea.
Feel free to go on the Open Secrets website and pull up your Senators or House representatives to see how much extra cash they are raking in every year. These figures do not include any campaign donations. They are strictly given to the politicians in order to influence their votes on specific bills. Campaign donations are tracked separately.
What good are they to us?
Why do we bother to write to them, email them, tweet them, call them, contact them on Social Media to influence their votes? We aren’t sending them money as individuals to influence their votes. We aren’t allowed to do that, nor should we be. However, we can send money to their PAC’s which support them. So in effect, it’s a roundabout way of doing the same thing.
Money talks. And buys influence. Paul Ryan has to add an additional $249,000 to his income tax for last year. That’s more than his $175,000 salary. Pretty lucrative. The Senators and House Reps can do whatever they want with their bribes, ahem… lobbyist contributions. It’s their money. It’s kind of like how an athlete gets sponsor money for advertising a product, but much more sneaky.
Why? Because you, the person who is expecting your politicians to act on your behalf, are being cheated. They are instead, acting on behalf of who is putting money in their pockets.
It’s time to demand a public outcry.
Frankly, I could care less if lobbyists exist. Let their corporations pay for them to go pound on D.C. to get the ears of the people who are making decisions. But they should be doing it without giving a single dollar, a single dinner, vacation, or gift. The only influence they should be allowed to glean is that of speaking. Let them make appointments, if they are able, and persuade a congress person to vote in their favor, for the benefit of their company.
Don’t reward politicians.
And then maybe our votes will start to count like they did before this atrocity called lobbying was born.