With 30-days left before the election perhaps it’s worthwhile remembering what all of this opposition is about…. Something 99% of American voters do not quite understand.
Congress doesn’t actually write legislation. The last item of legislation written by congress was sometime around the mid 1990’s. Modern legislation is sub-contracted to a segment of DC operations known as K-Street. That’s where the lobbyists reside.
Lobbyists write the laws; congress sells the laws; lobbyists then pay congress lucrative commissions for passing their laws. That’s the modern legislative business in DC.
When we talk about paying-off politicians in third-world countries we call it bribery. However, when we undertake the same process in the U.S. we call it “lobbying”.
CTH often describes the system with the phrase: “There are Trillions at Stake.” The process of creating legislation is behind that phrase. DC politics is not quite based on the ideas that frame most voter’s reference points.
With people taking notice of DC politics for the first time; and with people not as familiar with the purpose of DC politics; perhaps it is valuable to provide clarity.
Most people think when they vote for a federal politician -a House or Senate representative- they are voting for a person who will go to Washington DC and write or enact legislation. This is the old-fashioned “schoolhouse rock” perspective based on decades past. There is not a single person in congress writing legislation or laws.
In modern politics not a single member of the House of Representatives or Senator writes a law, or puts pen to paper to write out a legislative construct. This simply doesn’t happen.
Over the past several decades a system of constructing legislation has taken over Washington DC that more resembles a business operation than a legislative body. Here’s how it works right now.
Outside groups, often called “special interest groups”, are entities that represent their interests in legislative constructs. These groups are often representing foreign governments, Wall Street multinational corporations, banks, financial groups or businesses; or smaller groups of people with a similar connection who come together and form a larger group under an umbrella of interest specific to their affiliation.
Sometimes the groups are social interest groups; activists, climate groups, environmental interests etc. The social interest groups are usually non-profit constructs who depend on the expenditures of government to sustain their cause or need.
The for-profit groups (mostly business) have a purpose in Washington DC to shape policy, legislation and laws favorable to their interests. They have fully staffed offices just like any business would – only their ‘business‘ is getting legislation for their unique interests.
These groups are filled with highly-paid lawyers who represent the interests of the entity and actually write laws and legislation briefs.
In the modern era this is actually the origination of the laws that we eventually see passed by congress. Within the walls of these buildings within Washington DC is where the ‘sausage’ is actually made.
Again, no elected official is usually part of this law origination process.
Almost all legislation created is not ‘high profile’, they are obscure changes to current laws, regulations or policies that no-one pays attention to. The passage of the general bills within legislation is not covered in media. Ninety-nine percent of legislative activity happens without anyone outside the system even paying any attention to it.
The lobbyists are people who have deep contacts within the political bodies of the legislative branch, usually former House/Senate staff or former House/Senate politicians themselves.
The lobbyist takes the written brief, the legislative construct, and it’s their job to go to congress and sell it.
“Selling it” means finding politicians who will accept the brief, sponsor their bill and eventually get it to a vote and passage. The lobbyist does this by visiting the politician in their office, or, most currently familiar, by inviting the politician to an event they are hosting. The event is called a junket when it involves travel.
Often the lobbying “event” might be a weekend trip to a ski resort, or a “conference” that takes place at a resort. The actual sales pitch for the bill is usually not too long and the majority of the time is just like a mini vacation etc.
The size of the indulgence within the event, the amount of money the lobbyist is spending, is customarily related to the scale of benefit within the bill the sponsoring business entity is pushing. If the sponsoring business or interest group can gain a lot of financial benefit from the legislation they spend a lot on the indulgences.
Recap: Corporations, mostly modern multinationals (special interest group), write the legislation. The corporations then contract the lobbyists. Lobbyists then take the law and go find politician(s) to support it. Politicians get support from their peers using tenure and status etc. Eventually, if things go according to norm, the legislation gets a vote.
Within every step of the process there are expense account lunches, dinners, trips, venue tickets and a host of other customary financial way-points to generate/leverage a successful outcome. The amount of money spent is proportional to the benefit derived from the outcome.