Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Who owns who? Tuesday's Onion Funny.

I went to grad school in Madison, WI and read the Onion every week. Now they have video!

I like this video because, while it makes fun of the notion that lobbyists aren't getting what they want from politicians when they donate money, it gets closer to the truth than the average citizen might think. First, interest group money tends to flow to politicians who are already ideologically aligned with the interest group's goal. Money doesn't "buy" votes per se. Second, politicians also wield an incredible amount of control over the lobbyists themselves. In the 19th century, it was not uncommon for lawmakers to pass legislation designed to blackmail corporations or other interests. The corporations would be forced to donate money to the party in order to have the law, which undermines the corporations interests, repealed. Today, what lobbyist in DC ignores a summons to the fundraiser hosted by the chair of the House Appropriations Committee? Just look at where corporate money has flowed after the 2006 elections: the Democrats. Why? Corporations would certainly prefer a Republican majority as more favorable to their interests, but woe is the corporation and its lobbyist firm that ignores giving donations to the new majority in town.

And that is the true power of money: it may not buy votes, but it most probably buys access and a seat at the legislative table. For all the ink that is split on the power of lobbyists and their money, in fact, we'll never know which bills or amendments are NOT offered because a donation is given.

In The Know: Are Politicians Failing Our Lobbyists?

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