The act of lobbying politicians has turned into bribing them, and it's a big problem. When you hear the word "lobbying," you might as well replace it with "bribing." Billions of dollars are given to politicians and political groups so they will do what the big-money bribers want. This kind of lobbying should be illegal. It's okay for regular people to ask their representatives to do something that helps their community, but the current lobbying system has become a way for rich people to buy influence and power, not to benefit the country as a whole.
Under current laws and Supreme Court decisions, only really obvious corruption - like someone giving cash in exchange for favors - is illegal. But there are many other ways that big companies and rich people use their money to influence politicians, like using super PACs and other kinds of spending to support candidates who will do what they want. They don't even have to write down what they want in exchange for their support.
There are over 1,500 paid lobbyists in Washington DC who work to make sure we pay more for things like medicine. America is the only major country in the world that doesn't guarantee healthcare for older people, and many of them die every year because they can't get the care they need. We also have the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, and the pharmaceutical industry uses bribes to get politicians to do what they want.
Lobbying, or trying to influence government policy for a positive change, was originally meant to be a good thing. However, nowadays, it has been corrupted by money. It's still good to meet with a representative and present your case for or against something. But giving a politician money or favors to sway their decision is not what lobbying is meant to be about. Strangely, you can't even buy your representative lunch as that is seen as a bribe. However, if you gave them a million dollars under the table, that wouldn't be considered a bribe. Only the rich are allowed to bribe politicians. The laws only consider cash stuffed in an envelope and exchanged for explicit favors as illegal corruption, while soft forms of bribery such as super PACs and "independent expenditures" are allowed. This means that industries can effectively bankroll the campaigns of politicians who will do their bidding, as long as it's not explicitly written down.
A well-known example of legal bribery occurred in 2018 when Republicans sought a bribe from billionaire Sheldon Adelson. According to two senior Republicans, House Speaker Paul Ryan flew to Las Vegas to meet with Adelson at his Venetian Hotel. Ryan was accompanied by Corry Bliss, who oversees the super PAC, and Jake Kastan, Ryan's second-in-command. They explained to Adelson how important it was to protect the House from the Democrats. As a federally elected official, Ryan couldn't directly ask for a seven-figure political donation. But when Ryan left the room, Coleman asked for and secured the $30 million contribution. While Ryan didn't directly ask for the bribe, he made the entire case for it. The Republican Supreme Court rulings say that this is perfectly legal.
There is a dangerous group called ALEC, funded by big corporations and the Kochs, that creates extreme laws to benefit these same corporations. ALEC's members can pay a lot of money for direct access to state lawmakers who then use ALEC's "model bills" to create laws that only help corporations and harm everyone else.
The current political system in the US is corrupt, with anyone who has enough money able to start a Super PAC and bribe politicians. Super PACs can raise unlimited amounts of money to help elect candidates, which often leads to them spending more money than the candidates themselves. This allows politicians to take bribes without considering the long-term effects on the planet and future generations.
The US spends twice as much money per person on healthcare compared to other developed countries, yet has worse outcomes. The bloated insurance industry is draining the system and over half a million Americans go bankrupt each year due to medical bills. Pharmaceutical prices are also extremely high, only in the US, because of the legalized bribery system created by the Supreme Court. The amount of money being exchanged between industry, government, and politicians is mind-boggling and often benefits only billionaires.
According to the OpenSecrets Organization, the healthcare industry gave $689,466,798 to Congress Members and Senators in 2021 in exchange for favors. In 2020, they took away $543 billion from the American people and our economy, which is a lot of money. The Bribe System not only costs us money, but it also costs lives. A report published in June 2022 estimated that a single-payer universal healthcare system would have saved about 212,000 lives in 2020, and could save $438 billion per year during a non-pandemic year. Republicans often use the term "socialism" to scare people and distract them from the harmful policies they promote. They are all taking money from the healthcare industry and other big corporations, and they protect the status quo because it benefits them financially. The Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United, which allows corporations to spend unlimited money on political campaigns, is wrong and goes against what the Constitution says. In 2022, the defense industry employed 770 federal lobbyists, which means they have more than two lobbyists for every member of Congress. They also spent over $101 million on federal lobbying and donated $18.9 million to federal candidates.
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A small number of 27 rightwing billionaires today run the show. They basically own the GOP and thus the ability to block most positive and forward action that will help the public good.