Hate Money in Politics?
Politics runs on cash. The all-consuming goal of the American political class is to raise lots of it, so, to attract campaign funds, politicians have hidden incentives in legislation, regulations, subsidies, grants, low-interest and guaranteed loans and the tax code, among other duplicities.
In short, favorable legislation, tax breaks and regulations generate campaign cash. So do extortion â€" threats of unfavorable legislation and/or bureaucratic actions â€" and handouts.
At their core, items such as tax loopholes, farm benefits, ethanol mandates, generous public-service union contracts, prevailing wage laws and other benefits targeting favored constituencies and special interests are money-laundering schemes designed to convert taxpayers’ money into good will, campaign money and votes.
Obama-era stimulus money was spent to rescue labor-union pension funds and to close budgets in left-leaning states and municipalities to prevent teachers and public unions from losing dues-payers to layoffs. Recipients of tax breaks and taxpayer-funded subsidies, public union beneficiaries of generous taxpayer-financed pay and benefits, and recipients of taxpayer-supported stimulus and bailout funds are among the most powerful lobbies, the most generous contributors to political campaigns and the most tireless campaign workers.
The scheme is technically legal, but thoroughly corrupt: Politicians win; special interests win; taxpayers lose, in addition to having to spend $234 billion per year on tax compliance.
While worried about their personal financial welfare, most taxpayers are concerned about their children and grandkids, too. No politician in either party who helped America amass a $20 trillion debt or states to risk pension insolvency can legitimately claim to share those concerns.
Political profligacy is immoral. Once born, grown, working and taxed to service debt and fund pension shortfalls, our progeny will be forced to contribute to preserving the careers of long-departed and forgotten politicians who left no individual mark on Americaâ€™s or the statesâ€™ histories beyond their contributions to financial crises.
The federal tax code exceeds 74,000 pages full of deals and loopholes for special interests gained by lavishing campaign cash on politicians. The most effective ways to get special interest money out of politics would be to simplify and flatten the tax code, eliminate loopholes, pass right-to-work laws, then rationalize America’s regulatory framework and eliminate subsidies for special interests like green energy, oil companies, unions and big agriculture, among others. The bureaucracies must be reined in, too. If America did those things, the economy would boom, and special interest cash would disappear along with the highly-paid lobbyists it funds.
Finally, if legislatorsâ€™ pensions were banned, officeholders would term-limit themselves. Without special-interest campaign cash and generous pensions, we could restore the concept of public service from the early days of the American republic before politicians awarded themselves generous salaries, pensions and perks, making office-for-life an attractive career choice.
It wonâ€™t be easy, but progress can be made if better-informed voters unseat self-interested lifers â€" in both parties — who resist change. Reelecting the greedy hacks who permitted massive debt and risked insolvency will only hasten state and national failures — and disaster for the genuinely-needy among us.