March 26 (Bloomberg) -- Some people wear their hearts on their sleeve. Members of Congress should wear their sponsors on their chest.There follows a pretty much partisan screed against Dodd (who is no more or less corrupt, or co-opted, than any of the rest of the 534 Critters), and which would seem to have come, oh, about three years too late to have captured the equally egregious Puke offenders--Billy Tauzin comes to mind.
This isn’t an original idea. About a month ago, a friend forwarded me a post that was making its way around the blogosphere at the speed of light:
“Members of Congress should be compelled to wear uniforms like Nascar drivers, so we could identify their corporate sponsors.”
Great idea. Just imagine what that would look like.
Senator Chris Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut and ethically challenged head honcho at the Senate Banking Committee, files into a congressional hearing room, wields his gavel and calls the committee to order. The dress code is business casual: collared shirts, no jacket required.
Dodd is sporting a pink Lacoste shirt, with his “endorsements” emblazoned across his chest in large, black letters (the corporate logos go on the back):
Citigroup Inc. $428,294
United Technologies $380,550
Bear Stearns $347,350
American International Group $281,038
Deloitte & Touche $270,220
And that’s just a list of Dodd’s Top 5 lifetime contributors, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The list goes on: Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers.
You get the idea. Aside from United Technologies, based in Dodd’s home state, his major contributors all have business before the Banking Committee.
This is publicly available information, courtesy of CRP’s opensecrets.org Web site. Aside from a handful of journalists, political junkies and those with an ax to grind, most people don’t spend their days combing through details of who gave how much to whom.
Which is why lawmakers should publicize their donors.
But the point is a fair one: The citizens (oh, I know, it's an anachronism--we're ALL "consumers" now) deserve to know to whom THEIR "representatives" are beholden, and I think it should be required when they enter the Chamber of the Congress that each and every one of them wear a (Puke Red/Dim Blue?) uniform bearing the corpoRat logos/badges of their owners. The author, one Carol Baum, a Bloomberg staffer, concludes quite sensibly, it seems to me:
Right to KnowSeriously, folks: A lobbyist 'investing' $1 in the right Congresscritter at the right time can show returns up to as much as 258 THOUSAND%? What the FUCK?.
The public has a right to know what sort of hanky-panky its elected representatives are up to. In order to fulfill our electoral responsibility, we have to make informed decisions about whether our congressman is doing the people’s business or catering to his corporate constituency. Without a handy list of sponsors, we can’t determine the extent to which money buys access, not to mention perks and tax benefits.
At a time when Congress is channeling public outrage at AIG for awarding $165 million of bonuses to its financial products group, lawmakers should appreciate how quickly mob outrage can ricochet back to them.
So why not do the right thing now and return AIG’s campaign contributions to the people? As it turns out, that idea is already resonating with the public.
A new poll by the O’Leary Report and Zogby International found that 73 percent of Americans think any members of Congress who received campaign contributions from AIG over the last two years should return the money.
Return on Investment
Why stop there? Lawmakers should fork over all campaign contributions received from TARP-taking banks. These institutions doled out $114 million in the past year for lobbying and campaign contributions, according to CRP. Add that to the $50 million in AIG bonuses already returned by recipients, and we could put this whole bonus kerfuffle to rest.
It turns out the $114 million was money well spent. It bought the banks $295.2 billion in TARP money, a return of more than 258,000 percent.
Who needs off-balance-sheet vehicles when the government can provide that kind of return on investment?
We, the Peeps, of course have no such clout. Let's level the playing field this much at least. So, c'mon, folks! Let's get with the program...