Our Republican-strangled Congress has a historically low approval rating for a reason. They’ve been one of the most unproductive groups of legislators to ever walk the hallowed halls of the Capitol, with the GOP using their supermajority as an excuse to block every single piece of substantial legislation that could be perceived as a win for President Obama, turning the most mundane of budget discussions into vicious political fights that bring our government to the brink of shutdown time and time again.
Yes, the Tea Party wave has saddled us with a Congress with seemingly no intention of governance at all. With a breathtaking disregard for the constituents they ostensibly represent, our Republican Congress has been blatantly working for the lobbyists, corporations, and oligarchs that got them elected to office in the first place while ignoring the needs and desires of voters. But CBS’ 60 Minutes has discovered another reason why our Congress is so inefficient – they spend the vast majority of their time fundraising. Following the disaster of Citizens United, the entire purpose of Congress is primarily to raise money – to get reelected – to raise money, thus turning the solemn duties of governance into just another stop on the American money-go-round.
Rep. David Jolly (R-FL) told CBS that “We sat behind closed doors at one of the party headquarter back rooms in front of a white board where the equation was drawn out. You have six months until the election. Break that down to having to raise $2 million in the next six months. And your job, new member of Congress, is to raise $18,000 a day. Your first responsibility is to make sure you hit $18,000 a day.
Simply by calling people, cold-calling a list that fundraisers put in front of you, you’re presented with their biography. So please call John. He’s married to Sally. His daughter, Emma, just graduated from high school. They gave $18,000 last year to different candidates. They can give you $1,000 too if you ask them to. And they put you on the phone. And it’s a script. There are actually scripts for calls. We got our hands on one distributed by the National Republican Congressional Committee to help GOP members invite donors to attend their annual fundraising dinner in March.”
Congressmen have “call centers” in which they – both Democrats and Republicans – are expected to spend thirty hours a week fundraising. It’s gotten to the point where the entire House schedule is arranged around fundraising time. Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MIN) mourned that “it’s discouraging good people from running for public office. I could give you names of people who’ve said, ‘You know, I’d like to go to Washington and help fix problems, but I don’t want to go to Washington and become a mid-level telemarketer, dialing for dollars, for crying out loud.'”
This shocking report shines a spotlight on just how corrupt and misguided our political system has become. Citizens United is a cancer slowly killing our nation as bridges go unrepaired, schools go unfunded, pollution uncleaned, the hungry ignored as our politicians huddle in back rooms, dialing for dollars for which they then owe political favors. Until we get the corrupting influence of money out of politics, we can’t expect any substantial changes – or for our politicians to focus and to do their damned jobs.
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