Friday, March 30, 2012

Take The Money And Run For Office

This American Life is doing a series on money in politics (here is a podcast) and finds that Congress members on the ways & means committee garner the most in contributions:

According to the story:

We imagine lobbyists stalking the halls of Congress, trying to influence lawmakers with cash. But often, it's the other way around: Members of Congress stalk lobbyists, looking for contributions.
"Most Americans would be shocked — not surprised, shocked — if they knew how much time a U.S. Senator spends raising money," Sen. Dick Durbin told us.
Not all of the events are boring. There are pheasant hunts, golf tournaments, sailing trips. This past week, for a thousand bucks, you could join South Dakota Senator John Thune at a Van Halen concert. Here's a count of fancy events from 2008 through early 2012:

The reporter quotes Barney Frank for the proposition that money doesn't always buy votes: "If the voters have a position, the voters will kick money's rear end every time." But a we know, voters are generally rationally ignorant about most issues.  Instead, "The only people who do care, or who even understand what the small print means are the lobbyists, and the industries and interests they represent."

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