Is the “Money Game” Dying in DC?

ChangeCongress-FollowTheMoney696In my last post I decried the incessant corruption in Washington, DC.  I recently read Peter Schweitzer’s amazing book “Extortion” and suddenly I see the baffling events inside the Beltway with new clarity.

Yesterday Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor got 26 other Republican congressmen to join 200 Democrats and pass a “clean” bill to extend the debt limit until after the election.  All the other Republican congressmen sensibly voted against passage.

Today the Senate, with Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican Whip John Cornyn voting along with the Democrats, passed the bill for President Obama’s signature.  As a result the national debt will rise to at least $18.2 trillion while our government does nothing but accelerate the calamitous decline in our economy.

Until I read Schweitzer’s book I could not fathom how the Republican leadership of both houses of Congress could vote not only against the wishes and interests of their constituents, but also in defiance of their own body of legislators.  The Republican majority-holding members in the House could have stopped this travesty in a heartbeat, and would have, were it not for John Boehner and the other Republican leaders.   What kind of evil pathology is this?  How can we face our children?

It just didn’t make any sense to me.  Until I learned about “the money”. 

I learned from Schweitzer and subsequent research that the game of government in DC is all about “the money”.  A congressman cannot get elected without “the money”.  Once a candidate is anointed by his party (both teams play by the same rules) and then elected, he is immediately indebted.  He is required to not only raise enough funds to win his own re-election, he also must also raise funds to sustain the party.  And let me tell you, these are some high stakes.

Committee assignments and leaderships are granted to legislators based on the funds they raise.  Votes are bought and sold.   Party leaders can financially make or break any member in a heartbeat.   None of the attributes a congressman brings to his position – knowledge, experience, skill, hard work – matters at all.  One’s status and hope for re-election is solely the result of how much dough he raises for the party.  The vast majority of a legislator’s time is spent chasing “the money”.

While you never hear about this “Lord of the Flies” culture in the press, it is no secret inside the Beltway.  It has been in place for a long, long time.

But a change took root in recent years.  Conservative voters, seeing that the entrenched political class in Washington, DC no longer took any interest in limiting government, supporting constitutional rights, and passing reasonable budgets, began sending principled men and women to the nation’s capital.  These newcomers were less engaged in “the money” and more driven by practical economics and common sense.  As the Tea Party influence became more pronounced, and fewer members feared the leadership’s “protection racket”, the DC money machine started to break down.  The Republican war chest was depleting.  And the central control of the Republican leadership started to crack.

For a candidate, the worst thing about the Tea Party is that they will work hard for you, but they won’t bring you a lot of money.  The best thing is that you won’t have to sell your soul to pay them back.

Boehner and friends have thrown in the towel. From the Huffington Post:

Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he “hoped to find 18 of them to join 200 Democrats to get the job done.”

“The fact is, we’ll let the Democrats put the votes up,” Boehner said. “We’ll put a minimum amount of votes up to get it passed.”

The new conservatives don’t care that much about raising money and are not indebted to the leadership.  They voted a resounding NO, and led most of the Republican membership into the light with them.  The old guard Republican leadership hunkered down in their central command, clinging to the hope that they could keep hold of their power and positions, and “the money”, by caving in, again, to their Democrat opponents.  In his final hurrah, Boehner bought just enough votes to do the deal and now he is broken and broke, along with Cantor, McConnell and the others.  “The money”, and the power structure it bought, may soon be extinct.

I hope we will look back at this day as a pivot point.  It was a battle lost, but one that could light the path to winning the war, where true conservatives stand on principle and vote for the people, not “the money”.

(To my Montana friends – The “Responsible Republicans” in the Big Sky State should take note.  Their future may look a lot like that of Boehner and friends.)

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideYou never give me your money
You only give me your funny paper
And in the middle of negotiations
You break down!

You Never Give Me Your Money – the Beatles
covered by the Ed Turner Band