A List of 2011’s Worst “Money in Politics” Failures
6. The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. One of the many down-to-the-wire showdowns in Congress this year, the Deficit Super Committee couldn’t keep their fingers out of the cookie jar long enough to be able to come to an agreement on cutting $1.3 trillion from the deficit and averting automatic budget cuts in 2013. Among other things, the package needed to include closing corporate loopholes with savings matched by equivalent budget cuts. Most Americans are having trouble sympathizing with GE for making $14.2 billion in worldwide profit last year, $5.1 billion in the United States, while not paying a single dime in federal income taxes. Why shouldn’t they contribute to reducing the deficit? Perhaps because members of the committee accept big checks from lobbyists representing various corporations to fund their reelection campaigns.
5. Keystone XL Pipeline Extension. Instead of increasing the percentage of oil we buy from our neighbor and close ally, Canada, President Obama caved in to the environmental lobby to postpone a decision on the extension of the Keystone pipeline and prevent jobs from being immediately available to American workers in construction and oil refining. Nevermind that pipelines are by far the safest means of transporting oil. Nevermind that Canada will find a buyer for its crude, most likely China, if a trade partner is not to be had in the United States, thus continuing our reliance on Middle East oil.
4. Stop Online Piracy Act. Instead of being killed entirely, SOPA and its threat of internet censorship has been tabled until early 2012. The communications and electronics industries contributed nearly $90 million to campaigns in the 2010 election cycle and spent over $290 million in lobbying this year, resulting in a battle of influence, pitting the recording and entertainment industries against web and social media companies in a pitiful attempt to protect intellectual property at the expense of the freedom of information. Leave this matter to the markets – continuous innovation is the best way to ensure intellectual property.
3. Cut, Cap and Balance. The efforts of the cut, cap and balance amendment came close to a solution to our nation’s economic problems, but fell short in one key area: tax increases. No Republican likes to increase taxes, but if we’re serious about balancing the budget and reducing the national debt, we can’t impose ridiculously high barriers to tax increases and expect to get the job done. A very modest tax increase, in exchange for compromises on spending cuts from the Democrats, would go a long way toward reaching this goal. With $66.8 million in contributions to Senators by organizations opposing it, however, the bill never had a chance of passing that house, and our budget woes will continue indefinitely. I think it’s time for Grover Norquist to retire just like his good pal Jack Abramoff.
2. Free Trade Agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia. The only thing that’s “free” about “free trade” agreements are the jobs we’re giving away for free to any country that wants them. There was nothing “free” about the bills leading to the agreements; supporters of the FTAs gave more than $75 million to the campaigns of house members alone to win their support.
1. Obamacare. I know, I know – this one wasn’t passed in 2011. But that doesn’t mean we can forget about its implications or ignore the fact that it didn’t do anything to address the real causes of high medical costs; health care reform still needs our attention. There are three easy things we can do to manage costs: implement tort reform, require insurance companies to compete across state lines, and subject pharmaceutical companies to greater competition. Easy, right? So why haven’t we done it? Check out the contribution levels of pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies to presidential and congressional campaigns on opensecrets.org. There will be no question left in your mind after that.
Governor Buddy Roemer is a four-term Congressman and former Governor of Louisiana. He is known for refusing PAC and special interest money, implementing campaign finance reform, turning around Louisiana’s failing economy and cutting the state’s unemployment rate in half in just four years. Roemer is a candidate for President of the United States. His website is www.BuddyRoemer.com.