the cost of buying politicians’ votes

3 07 2009

I really wonder about our politicians in Washington sometimes.  I know there are different points-of-view on issues, and sometimes compromises must be made to accomplish some things, but shouldn’t there be an ethical line somewhere?

Here’s the story from the Washington Times that inspired this rant:

When House Democratic leaders were rounding up votes Friday for the massive climate-change bill, they paid special attention to their colleagues from Ohio who remained stubbornly undecided.

They finally secured the vote of one Ohioan, veteran Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Toledo, the old-fashioned way. They gave her what she wanted – a new federal power authority, similar to Washington state’s Bonneville Power Administration, stocked with up to $3.5 billion in taxpayer money available for lending to renewable energy and economic development projects in Ohio and other Midwestern states.

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat, included the Kaptur project in a 310-page amendment to the legislation unveiled at 3 a.m. Friday, just hours before the bill was to be debated on the House floor. The amendment was packed with other vote-getting provisions, both large and small, that had been sought by dozens of wavering Democrats.

The wheeling and dealing proved successful. Mr. Waxman and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, backed by the personal lobbying of President Obama, won over enough lawmakers to pass the bill narrowly Friday evening, 219-212.

There’s more to the story, which you can read at the link, and I will summarize some with my rant.  Miss Kaptur pushed for this — it wasn’t all Waxman’s doing.  Kaptur pointed out on her website that other areas of the country already have such programs, and she said, “It’s our turn.”   Her spokesman said Kaptur modeled the fund after Obama’s stimulus package (which contained a record-amount of pork projects).  Her spokesman also said that the inclusion of the program in the legislation “made it possible for her to entertain voting for the bill.”

So basically she was against the bill until she got money for projects back home.   Is that how the process should work?   I don’t think so.  I know, it’s how the current political system runs in Washington, but the whole thing needs to be rebuilt (based on how it used to be).  This representative disagreed with a bill that affects everyone, but voted for it anyway because she was bought by the extra concessions for her own state.  To me, that’s corrupt.

Another thing I really dislike about this whole process is that a 310-page amendment can be made just a few hours before the vote, which means not everyone will have time to read it.  How can our representatives vote for a bill they haven’t read? Isn’t that just opening the door for corruption and government waste?  (I’ve already ranted about this, so I won’t continue; you can read about it here.)

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