The Mix  
comments_image Comments

Now you're talking

Good ideas for reform.
 
 
Share
 

Finally, we hear some voices calling for real reform in pay-to-play land.

First, we have a few Dems calling for campaign finance reform, a prerequisite for any substantive reform package. David Sirota, citing Reuters, wrote:

Democratic Reps. David Obey (WI) and Barney Frank (MA) will "offer legislation this month requiring that general elections for the 435 House seats be financed purely with public funds." In his statement announcing the push, Obey said, "You can talk all you want about nibbling at the margins about ethics and House rules and all the rest, but unless we deal with the nexus between politics and money, damned little is actually going to change over time."

Damn straight.

In an unrelated post, AlterNet commenter Gulliver relayed an idea s/he heard from John Edwards:

His recommendation was simple and to the point: Finance campaigns with public money and make a law that says that any politician who takes any money from anybody….goes to jail. No need to prove quid pro quo, just a simple principle: Take Money=Go to Jail. Do not pass Go. And no Get Out of Jail Free cards. But of course he doesn't think for a minute that a congress which benefits from all this graft will ever countenance such a clearly rational measure.

That's true, but a Democratic Party that really wanted to re-take Congress would give up their addiction to the money and perks and win a landslide victory on bold measures like that. People are fed up and have no place to go.

Speaking of bold measures, Ralph Nader's got one:

The goodies bestowed by Congress on their patrons are too numerous and diverse to be addressed with any single reform approach.

But good legislation could go a long way toward reducing corporate welfare doled out in the form of giveaways, subsidies, and cheap loans.

In one sweeping bill, Congress should decree that every federal agency shall terminate all below-market-rate sales, leasing or rental arrangements with corporate beneficiaries, including of real and intangible property; shall cease making any below-market-rate loans or issuing any below-market-rate loan guarantees to corporations; shall terminate all export assistance or marketing promotion for corporations; shall cease providing any below-market-rate insurance; shall terminate all fossil fuel or nuclear power research and development efforts; shall eliminate all liability caps; and shall terminate any direct grant, below-market-value technology transfer or subsidy of any kind. The bill should also amend the Internal Revenue Code to eliminate all corporate "tax expenditures" (Beltway talk for loopholes and gimmicks for corporate taxpayers) listed in the President's annual budget.

Some of what gets cancelled in such a bill might be good public policy. If so, Congress should reauthorize it. But there's too much accumulated contribution/lobbyist-driven institutionalized graft for a case-by-case review to eliminate what's in place. What's needed is a clean slate. [ Commondreams]

People don't link crony-capitalism with profligate spending and deficits, but they should; how much of our budget goes to bullshit projects that lobbyists bought for their clients? How many tax breaks?

Joshua Holland is a staff writer at Alternet and a regular contributor to The Gadflyer .