Is congress dealing in bribery or
Many commentators decry the
perceived debasement of congress by big business. Many in the
legislative branch complain that they spend too much time looking for
funds to pay for the re-election campaigns.
In a quid pro quo arrangement congress gets funds from a special
interest and then tailors the tax code to improve the bottom line of
the industry putting up the money. Those without the funds get shut out
of the process. It's called "pay to play". But, is this what is really
Let's suppose we abolish the corporate tax entirely. It's already down
to a small fraction of the government revenue stream anyway. What
happens next? Well congress has few goodies to offer business, they're
not paying corporate taxes so tax breaks are meaningless. All that is
left is some tweaking of environmental regulations and foreign aid
support. This is not nearly as big a pie. With nothing to offer,
business has little reason to donate to campaigns.
So, actually, congress is not soliciting funds so much as extorting
them. By continually altering the tax code they can force business to
come back year after year to ensure that the tax breaks remain
Are there solutions? We could make campaigns be funded by a public fund
thus eliminating private contributions. But what about those that want
to support a specfic candidate or position?
What about the 1st
amendment? We could make running a campaign cheaper by forcing TV and
radio to provide time to the candidates in exchange for the free
bandwidth they are given. But what about those who subscribe to private
broadcast services like cable and satellite?
Do we force them to
provide air time as well? Other countries control the election process,
but would be willing to accept those sorts of limitations?
Moral: follow the money
to see all my essays in context.
If you have any comments you would like to add email me
Copyright © 2004 Robert D Feinman
Feel free to use the ideas, but the words are mine.