UPI Asia: A view of American Lobbying from abroad

Written by admin on September 26th, 2009

UPI Asia takes a swing at American style lobbying

Story here:

http://www.upiasia.com/Politics/2009/09/25/lobbying_bribery_the_american_way/5999/

Americans often describe governments and officials in Asia as corrupt because gifts change hands or benefits are offered in various business transactions.

But what is lobbying in the United States? It is corrupting politicians and civil servants with money and material benefits by private interest groups that wish the government to heed their way. Lobbying is a multibillion-dollar industry, conducted both in Washington and in state capitals.

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Lobbyists in the second quarter of this year alone have spent US$166 million to shoot this initiative down. By the time it comes to a vote in Congress, costs may be anywhere from US$4-500 million. This is a tremendous sum of cash going into politicians’ pockets.

Both proponents and opponents of the healthcare initiative on both sides of the aisle have received money from a coalition of healthcare providers, insurance companies and drug companies.

Take for example the conservative Democrats, called the Blue Dogs, who are among an important middle-ground group of both parties in this fight. They have taken millions to stick to the middle ground. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, a Democrat, has taken US$1.6 million from healthcare industry lobbyists. The Republican representative on the same committee has taken $1 million from the same lobbyists.

There is a strong connection between lobbying and political contributions. Although direct corporate contributions for political campaigns are strictly forbidden, corporate influence peddling continues unabated. Any interest group or trade guild seeking influence in the corridors of power maintains a steady stream of cash to the election campaign of one politician or another.

By the end of the year healthcare lobbyists alone will have spent half a billion dollars to block the public option from the Obama initiative. In a democracy it is legal to oppose the ruling party’s initiative. In the United States there is no limit on how much can be spent to oppose an initiative; this makes the country as corrupt as any in the world.

The Best Government Money Can Buy? is a non partisan documentary film about the links between lobbying and campaign finance.

 

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