Saturday, January 12, 2013

Why They Do It



Interesting article about Senators who filibuster and how they profit from it:


I’ve detailed before how lobbyists, even agents for foreign governments, have secured Republican filibusters at a shocking rate. The cottage industry around monetizing filibusters has grown rapidly since Obama’s first election. From 2009 to 2010, there were more filibusters filed than during the 1950s through 1960s combined, as The Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuvel observed.
The interesting dynamic for me is, how money in politics has incentivized this contraction of democratic governance. Here are just a few examples of how powerful industries have usurped the normal gears of government, and used Senate obstruction to push policies that punish ordinary Americans and the environment:
• Senator David Vitter (R-LA) placed holds on Obama EPA nominees to delay scientific assessments on the health risks of formaldehyde, which is produced by some of his largest campaign contributors.
• According to a new report from Public Campaign Action Fund, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has collected a hundreds of thousands in funds from the same industries he has protected with filibusters, particularly from oil companies and the finance sector. McConnell has led filibusters to protect oil subsidies, to block efforts to mitigate the mortgage crisis, and against campaign disclosure reforms.
• Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) placed a “blanket hold” on every Obama nominee to force the administration to accept a Northrop Grumman contract to build a $35 billion refueling tanker in Mobile, Alabama. Northrop Grumman is a major Shelby donor.
• Senator John McCain (R-AZ) blocked the nomination of one of Obama’s most important Department of Labor nominees for months, which many believe led the US Chamber of Commerce to aggressively support McCain during a contentious primary with a Tea Party–backed candidate in 2010.
• Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), a close ally of the oil and gas industry, temporarily blocked Obama’s nominee for the Office of Management and Budget to extract an administration promise to allow more oil drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe.
• Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) filibustered the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill in order to demand a policy that prevents FedEx drivers from unionizing. FedEx is Corker’s third-highest campaign donor.
At the nexus of all of this obstruction are lobbyists who are making a small fortune negotiating these tactics.
I think few if any of us fully understand the extent to which our legislative process is corrupted. Clearly, it's a bipartisan fact. But since Obama's election, it's been Rs that have used and abused the system. I'd thought it was mostly a matter of political gamesmanship; trying to keep him from success so they might regain power. How wrong I was.

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