Episode three of The Swamp from CRTV introduces two new congressman to the show including Thomas Massie (KY), and Ted Yoho (FL), and takes a look at the money from lobbyists that’s polluting politics on both sides of the aisle.
Massie describes the ranking of congressional committees based on the ability to raise funds, with American veterans getting stiffed with a ‘C’ grade ranking, one of the lowest:
What if people back home knew that taking care of our veterans was considered the lowest priority committee in Congress?
He goes on to describe the fees that are charged to simply be on a committee:
My assessment is $300,000. That’s what i’m supposed to pay to rent my position on these three committees. And note, “Your assessment is subject to change based on leadership roles.” In other words, if you get more power here, they’re going to charge you more. And if you can’t pay today, just sign this piece of paper pledging that you will make this payment in full before the due date. In fact, they’ll fold this sucker up and stick it in your pocket on the floor of the House at votes just to remind you that you owe some money if you want to keep your committee assignment.
As usual, the rules for politicians are different to the rules the masses must adhere to:
Now renting committee assignments and chairmanships, it should be illegal. If you did this sort of thing in a city council meeting, or a state legislature, they would perp-walk you in handcuffs in front of the evening news. But it’s legal here because who’s going to make a law stopping this?
Not surprisingly this creates a rotten system of incentives:
The problem is the incentive structure is set up to get you to sell out to lobbyists because they’re the only ones who have the currency you need, which is campaign dollars, to buy your committee assignment.
Incentives that result in weak politicians selling out their constituents for personal gain as Massie describes:
You’re faced with coming up here [Capital Hill] and prostituting yourself just so that you can get a committee assignment where you can represent you constituents the best.
Be sure to catch the next episode for another look behind the scenes at how Capital Hill actually operates.