Guest Post: How Much Would It Cost To Buy Congress Back From Special Interests?

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charles Hugh Smith from Of Two Minds

How Much Would It Cost To Buy Congress Back From Special Interests?

Here's a thought: let's buy our Congress back from the special interests who now own it.

We all know special interests own the U.S. Congress and the Federal machinery of governance (i.e. regulatory capture). How much would it cost the American citizenry to buy back their Congress? The goal in buying our Congress back from the banking cartel et al. would not be to compete with the special interests for congressional favors--it would be to elect a Congress which would eradicate their power and influence altogether.

A tall order, perhaps, but certainly not impossible, if we're willing to spend the money to not just match special interest contributions to campaigns but steamroll them.

A seat in the U.S. Senate is a pricey little lever of power, so we better be ready to spend $50 million per seat. Seats in smaller states will be less, but seats in the big states will cost more, but this is a pretty good average.

That's $5 billion to buy the Senate.

A seat in the House of Representatives is a lot cheaper to buy: $10 million is still considered a lot of money in this playground of power. But the special interests-- you know the usual suspects, the banks, Wall Street, Big Pharma, Big Insurance, Big Tobacco, the military-industrial complex, Big Ag, public unions, the educrat complex, trial lawyers, foreign governments, and so on--will fight tooth and nail to maintain their control of the Federal machinery, so we better double that to $20 million per seat. Let's see, $20 million times 435....

That's $8.7 billion to buy the House of Representatives.

It seems we're stuck with the corporate toadies on the Supreme Court, but the President could scotch the people's plans to regain control of their government, so we better buy the office of the President, too.

It seems Obama's purchase price was about $100 million, but the special interests will be desperate to have "their man or woman" with the veto power, so we better triple this to $300 million.

Add these up and it looks like we could buy back our government for the paltry sum of $14 billion. This is roughly .0037% of the Federal budget of $3.8 trillion, i.e. one-third of one percent. That is incredible leverage: $1 in campaign bribes controls $300 in annual spending--and a global empire.

Once we bought back our government, what would be the first items on the agenda? The first item would be to eradicate private bribes, a.k.a. private campaign contributions and lobbying.

If you allow $1 in campaign contributions, then you also allow $10 million. There is no way to finesse bribery, so it has to be cut and dried: no member of Congress can accept any gift or contribution of any nature, monetary or otherwise, and all campaigns will be publicly financed.

Is this system perfect? Of course not. There is no perfect system. But the point here is that a system which allows even a $1 private contribution to a campaign cannot be restricted; after the courts have their say, then all attempted limitations prove worthless.

So it's really all or nothing: either we put our government up for auction to the highest bribe, or we ban all gifts and private campaign financing and go with public financing of all elections in the nation.

That is the only practical and sane solution. Any proposal that seeks to finesse bribery will fail, just like all previous attempts at campaign finance reform.

Any member of Congress who accepts a gift, trinket, meal, cash in an envelope, etc. will lose their seat upon conviction of accepting the gift. Once again, you can't finesse bribery. It has to be all or nothing, and the only way to control bribery is to ban it outright.

As for lobbying, thanks to a Supreme Court dominated by corporate toadies, it will be difficult to ban lobbying outright. However, that doesn't mean Congress shouldn't try to force the toadies on the Supreme Court to make a distinction between a corporation with $100 billion in assets and billions to spend on bribes and a penniless citizen.

(Those two are not coincidental; in a nation run by and for corporations, the citizens all end up penniless unless they own or manage said corporations, or work for a Federal fiefdom which can stripmine the nation at will.)

Congress should pass a law banning paid-for lobbying. If a citizen wants to go to Congress and advocate a position, they are free to do so--but they can't accept money to do so. If they receive any compensation from any agency, enterprise, foreign government, other citizen, you name it, from any source, then they will be sentenced to 10 years of fulltime community service in Washington D.C., picking up trash, etc.

If the Supreme Court toadies strike down that law, then here's another approach:

Require all paid lobbyists to wear clown suits during their paid hours of work.

In addition, all lobbyists are required to wear three placards, each with text of at least two inches in height.

The first placard lists their total annual compensation as a lobbyist.

The second lists the special interest they work for.

The third lists the total amount of money that special interest spent the previous year on lobbying, regulatory capture, bribes to politicos and political parties, etc.

Every piece of paper issued by lobbyists must be stamped in large red letters, "This lobbying paid for by (special interest)", and every video, Powerpoint presentation, etc. must also be stamped with the same message on every frame.

The second item on the agenda is a one-page tax form. The form looks like the current 1040 form except it stops at line 22: TOTAL INCOME. A progressive flat tax is then calculated from that line. Once again, you cannot finesse bribery or exemptions, exclusions, loopholes and exceptions. Once you allow exemptions, exclusions, loopholes and exceptions, then you've opened Pandora's Box of gaming the system, and the financial Elites will soon plow holes in the tax code large enough to drive trucks through while John Q. Citizen will be paying full pop, just like now.

The entire charade of punishing and rewarding certain behaviors to pursue some policy has to end. Any deduction, such as interest on mortgages, ends up creating perverse incentives which can and will be gamed. It's really that simple: you cannot finesse bribery or exemptions, exclusions and loopholes, because these are two sides of the same coin.

The tremendous inequality in income, wealth, power and opportunity which is distorting and destroying our nation all flow from the inequalities enabled by bribery and tax avoidance. The only way to fix the nation is to eliminate bribery (campaign contributions and lobbying) entirely, and eliminate tax avoidance entirely by eliminating all deductions, exemptions, loopholes, etc. State total income from all sources everywhere on the planet, calculate tax, done.

When you think about how tiny $14 billion is compared to the $3.8 trillion Federal budget and the $14.5 trillion U.S. economy, it makes you want to weep; how cheaply we have sold our government, and how much we suffer under the whip of those who bought it for a pittance.

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gdogus erectus's picture

"bout a hundred dollars"

gdogus erectus's picture

No, seriously - 140,000,000 workers in the US.  Multiplied by $100 ....


Just mail your $100 to:

TTFO (Throw The Fucks Out)

PO Box 2586

Coeur d'Alene, ID  83815

mayhem_korner's picture

Why not pay 'em in food stamps?

Let's see...45 Million times...

wanklord's picture

Americans are a bunch of stupid animals easy to manipulate and subdue. These mules clearly fit in one of Leo Strauss'(*) categories of society: the Vulgar Many

"The vulgar many, are lovers of wealth and pleasure. They are selfish, slothful, and indolent. They can be inspired to rise above their brutish existence only by fear of impending death or catastrophe."

The sooner the US economy collapses, the better, so these brutes will finally learn NOT to live beyond their means.


* German Philosopher (1899-1973)

Conrad Murray's picture

former KGB agent who was trained in subversion techniques. He explains the 4 basic steps to socially engineering entire generations into thinking and behaving the way those in power want them to

66Sexy's picture

I like the idea.. really, i do. But it would be much more economical to set up sniper kill teams 'til  either they learn to fear the public again, or one of "us" gets in there...

After alll.. we cook their meals, we iron their clothes, we guard them while they sleep..

The problem is not continuing bribery, it's enforcement. They think they have the enforcment in pocket to protect them and enforce the laws they pass against us. Without enforcement, it is alll just top-bottom jibberish and lip flappng. In reality, thats all it is now anyway.

What if enforcement as whole (including the police and US military) suddenly supported the constitution and the people - instead of corrupt politicians, globalist corporations, and international bankers?

chumbawamba's picture

Thanks for suggesting the one true viable solution: just kill the mother fuckers and be done with it.  And then go after anyone who wants to "fill the vacuum".

Turn DC into a "no go" free-fire zone.  If you so much as look outside your window, an appropriately stationed sniper will take you out.  Once DC is devoid of humanity, freedom rings.

I am Chumbawamba.

EmergentMind's picture

I don't think that murdering is the solution.  Politicians and bureaucrats multiply like rabbits you see, and they just love any excuse to ramp up the police-state further.  The real problem is the system that enables people to have these positions of power.  It attracts and/or creates corruption.  These same people who become power and control freaks would probably be quite decent if they were just kindergarten teachers.  Fix the environment, and behavior will follow.  Trying to fix behavior (via murder or otherwise) is only working on the symptoms and not the cause.  What kind of environment would create good people in all levels of society?  I believe the answer has to do with a system that does not allow for the accumulation of wealth/power, and the master/slave paradigm that follows.  Decentralization must be a key element, as well as the redesign or elimination of the monetary system.  I have yet to see how a monetary system can be ethical (in the long term), so perhaps doing away with it is the best idea.  Besides, we are the only species on Earth that uses money, and look how fucked up it has made us.  The "Zeitgeist Movement" is intriguing in this regard, however I am not sure that I agree with it's top-down approach.  I'm more of a bottom-up kind of guy, because all of nature has evolved in a bottom-up approach.  Anyways, my main point here is that looking at individual behavior is not what we should be focusing on.  We need to take a broader perspective and look at how the environment encourages certain types of behavior, and find ways to change the environment. 

HungrySeagull's picture

Nothing at all. Just stop the Special Interest Lobbying entirely. Outlaw them outright in DC. The more quiet the Congress has the faster it can focus and get work done.

blindfaith's picture

A better idea is to buy them for what they ARE worth,  and then sell them for what they THINK they are worth, and we would have enough to pay off the national debt.

Joseph Jones's picture

Or as Warren Pollack suggested, outlaw both major parties for all national elections. 

monkeyshine's picture

In Philadelphia, it's worth fifty bucks.

ShaneAshton's picture

Some people laugh...others need an explanation.

I'll give y'all a hint....Dan Akroyd utters these famous words.

A Nanny Moose's picture

You don't seem to know Diddley.

Gubbmint Cheese's picture

But.. it tells time simultaneously in Monte Carlo, Beverly Hills, London, Paris, Rome and Gstaad!!

Gully Foyle's picture

gdogus erectus

Everybody misses the underlying problem, it ain't about the money. People either control themselves or they control others. Those who need to control others are those with serious issues.

We ain't speaking about healthy mentally sound people. These are deeply flawed individuals, maybe even Sociopaths.

The money is only gravy.

Unfortunately there is no way to seperate those who crave power from the machine that delivers it to them. They slip past any test established to keep them in check. They game the system for their benefit and the publics detriment.

If you want to fix the system you need to remove people, not money.


gdogus erectus's picture

Hence the name of my newly formed non-profit organization!  TTFO  But seriously - you are correct.  It's just that there are plenty of guys with good intentions that go into politics and find out it's a cesspool.  If you at least took the money out of the system, it would be like draining the oil out of the crankcase.

tarsubil's picture

You should start in org with the acronym STFITH.

Piranhanoia's picture

I used to believe that. It has to be like the draft. The person for the job is not going to want it.

rosiescenario's picture

A+...IMHO that is just how our founding fathers looked at serving in the would be more like jury duty...

I did it by Occident's picture

Yeah, I often think we'd be better off in a "randomocracy"  that's right, just like jury duty, people's names would be drawn out of a pool of eligible voters and they would be sent to DC for 2 years.   It couldn't be worse than what we have now  I bet. 

JohnG's picture

Ummmm, what do you mean by "maybe even sociopaths?"


Of course they are, with a very few exceptions, the lot of them.

And bullets are much less expensive and very effective.

JW n FL's picture

Amen! Preach it from the Mountain Tops!

NOTaREALmerican's picture

Re: maybe even Sociopaths.

Hey,  sociopaths are the highest evolved humans.   They are the predators of the dumbasses.    If you don't thin-the-herd it dies.   That's why we need sociopaths,  so that America can be great and glorious again.

Manthong's picture

Raising $5 bilion to buy back the Senate is an interesting idea.

I'd contribute if it came with a movement to repeal the 17th Ammendment as part of the deal.

You won't have a durable fix of the Senate until you do that, it will always remain for sale.

If the Senators were appointed by the states as the founders stipulated, you would have to buy all of the states to get control of the Senate and that's not doable.

I did it by Occident's picture

yeah, that should be done, it was the only structural check which guaranteed the 9th and 10th amendments.  After that was done away with the federal spending exploded.  Before that, it was manageable very low percentage of GDP.  Then after 1913, it explodes, what a coincidence! 

Imminent Collapse's picture

Just because they have been bought by special interests for such a paltry sum doesn't mean that when you up the ante that special interests won't pony up with more money.  Competition does that, especially when the amount they are making by owning the government is so huge.  Right now buying off our elected officials is the cheapest bribe in world.

JW n FL's picture

It is Time that "We the Sheepeople" Take Our Country Back! from the Lobby Whores and the Bankers!


They are ALL Guilty of Treason! against the United States of America! they ALL have wiped their asses with the Constitution!


The Lobby Whores and the Bankers NEED TO GO! We need to send a message that Americans will not forget in 100 years! So that this scum never again robs "We the Sheepeople" of their Freedom and Money!

MFL8240's picture

Agree! When does this start?

NOTaREALmerican's picture

After the next election.    The new guys will be better than the current guys and clean things up.    It's totally different this time.

JW n FL's picture

well another brother from another mother is found! Howdy Bro!


ALL of them! Them being, equaling.. Lobby Whores and Bankers are the same.. the old guy is the new guys is same as the old guy!



mayhem_korner's picture

My strategy (repeated from prior):

Enable Congress to share in a one-time 10% of the net spending cuts they can achieve, with three conditions:

1) They must vote in the affirmative

2) They must resign

3) They will be afforded witness protection status.

I believe we could have the chambers cleared in 45 minutes, about $600B of spending wiped out, and a whole new slate to elect.


Steroid's picture

Your suggestion seems reasonable. However, this is the US of A. First thing is the price discovery to the American model of "if you can't buy them kill them". This article was just the introduction to this conclusion.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

That's $5 billion to buy the Senate.

That's $8.7 billion to buy the House of Representatives.

Chump change. I would have thought Congress would have held out for some real money. I'm so disappointed.

However I am willing to begin collecting money from my fellow citizens to buy Congress back.....minus my 2/20 fee of course. :>)

hedgeless_horseman's picture

A tall order, perhaps, but certainly not impossible, if we're willing to spend the money to not just match special interest contributions to campaigns but steamroll them.

Sorry, but no amount of money could buy back a former Chamber of Commerce Executive from business interests...

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX 8th District)

8th term Republican from Texas 8th District.

Previous Occupation: Chamber of Commerce Executive

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Thanks HH,

I was wondering where I put my butt ugly bowling ball.

hedgeless_horseman's picture

To his credit, my Congressman is hard working, and loyal to those that put him in office.  I believe that he does reflect and represent his constituency fairly well. 

“Every nation has the government it deserves.” 
Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821)

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

To his credit, my Congressman is hard working, and loyal to those that put him in paid for the office.  I believe that he does reflect and represent his paying constituency fairly well. 

I caught the sarcasm and wanted to add my own.

Fixed it for ya. :)

JW n FL's picture
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX 8th District)

8th term Republican from Texas 8th District.

Previous Occupation: Chamber of Commerce Executive



Guilty of Treason! String him up!

hedgeless_horseman's picture

They certainly are not hiding anything.

From its headquarters near the White House, the Chamber maintains a professional staff of hundreds of the nation’s top policy experts, lobbyists, lawyers, and communicators. Special initiatives covering energy, infrastructure, education and training, and workforce rules help drive the pro-business agenda.


Geoff-UK's picture

Another idiotic suggestion from CHS.  It presumes Congress would STAY bought--they would simply up their bribe number from AIG/GS/JPM/et al.


A better suggestion would be figuring a way to hire Mafia hit men to....but I've said too much already.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

You could probably purchase radiated Yakuza cheaper. Just a thought.

12ToothAssassin's picture

Horribly flawed logic - The price will just go up with competition but corps will always have more money to throw around.

A Nanny Moose's picture

Now you are talking. Fear of the mob. Implicit, and explicit.

No more effing Praetorian Guard.

NotApplicable's picture

Especially the financial corps with access to free money. I guess he doesn't understand that's how they were purchased in the first place.