Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Senate May Be Paid to Vote, but the Cost Is Small Time



Who would possibly have thought that securing Obama’s Fast Track authority for the passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade treaty could have been bought and paid for? This is a major trade deal that, among other things, strips national governments of their sovereign authority—including the United States.
 
Wonder of wonders, it has been done. Wonder of wonders, it only cost business and industry a mere $1,148,971, an average of $17,676.48 ‘donated’ to each of the 65 “yea” votes. They probably could have achieved it even without the additional 48 cents. My eyes mist over at the thought.

The most powerful nation on the planet gives in on the cheap.

The terms of this treaty are so secret that Congress has only been given brief glances at portions, sworn to secrecy and not even allowed to take notes. Now with the passage of Fast Track, meaningful debate is entirely removed from the process. Your jobs, cost of medicines, environmental standards—even access to the internet is now entirely beyond the reach of your elected officials to debate—all according to the entirely legal payoff of those you elected.

It is against the law to bribe your Senator or Representative with a paid golf vacation or fancy dinner at a high-end Washington restaurant.

It is not against the law to ‘contribute’ $17,676.48 to his or her campaign fund. It is not against the law to ‘swing a deal’ to pay them to sit on your board of directors when they retire or lose an election. It is not against the law to ‘contribute’ millions to a campaign fund, have them decide not to run and keep the money.

These things are not against the law because Congress makes the laws.

But who would have thought that, with all that money and all that power, their votes for a trade deal worth trillions to business and industry could be bought so cheap?

A number of years ago, in a similar huff over similar issues, I rather tongue-in-cheek bought the BuyBackAmerica.com domain and offered it to anyone who would set up a Super PAC in that name, funded by small citizen donations. A dollar a year would have put $340 million in the coffers.

That might have allowed the guy on the street to outbid the $51,700 John McCain received in the first quarter of 2015 to Fast Track their future. Didn’t that dude run for president or something?

No one took me up on the offer, but what was once tongue-in-cheek now simply looks cheeky.