Is congress dealing in bribery or extortion?

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 happening?

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 favorable.

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
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Copyright © 2004 Robert D Feinman
Feel free to use the ideas, but the words are mine.