Clean Up the Political System

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:37 pm

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) has some good ideas on how to reduce gas prices, and he has some good ideas for resolving the immigration crisis. But Jim repeatedly refuses to accept the political catalyst fueling his opponents.

If we didn’t have a moneyed political system that virtually demanded bad government policies and spending in return for campaign cash, we wouldn’t have these and other problems to begin with.

Because of the need for campaign cash, Newt Gingrich and the right-wing’s “kinder, gentler” handling of corporations would not have reached this breaking point. If Congress had not crippled the Federal Trade Commission it would have blocked all of the mega-petrol-mergers that have decreased competition and increased gas prices. Because reducing the federal gas tax will reduce revenues for building new highways and maintaining old ones, the cash-rich road builders will get their money from a different government pot, and the taxpayers will still pay. All of this while the petrol-CEOs and politicians continue pocketing their excessive profits and campaign contributions.

Sensenbrenner also ignores the power of campaign contributions on his immigration goals. The industries that benefit from the exploitation of cheap labor — mainly agri-business and meat packing — have also given gobs of campaign cash to the Republicans to feed Bush’s “matching willing workers with willing employers.” What’s wrong with paying decent wages and filling those jobs with Americans? It lowers corporate profits and their ability to share those profits with the politicians that made it all possible.

This corporate and personal greed affects all political decisions at both the state and federal level. Follow the money and you’ll virtually always find a politician at the end with his hand out. Look at the $100 million in campaign cash from the health care industry that is blocking implementation of a fair, equitable universal health care system. One like Canada’s but without the wait times. And for 11% of GDP rather than today’s 15%. Or look at the overwhelming campaign cash from industries that would rather block environmental laws than stop polluting.

If Sensenbrenner really wants to do something for his constituents he’d support full public funding of campaigns, which would cost $10 per taxpayer per year rather than the over-$3,000 in government assets that are now given to campaign contributors every year. That would be a bargain at 100 times the price. This system, is constitutional because it is 100% voluntary. If Sensenbrenner wanted to continue taking private cash for his election, he could opt out of the public system.

Sensenbrenner has repeatedly opposed political reforms, even though he wants to pass laws that buck the campaign contributors. Is this just grandstanding? He’s in a safe seat and doesn’t need the money himself, but it keeps his party in power and him in his chairmanship.

But the public doesn’t want political cash flowing from special interests. Even good businessmen know the costs of a dirty political system. Most would have jailed an employee that was giving away company assets for cash on the side.

The only solution now is an AT&T-style breakup of the petroleum industry and resetting it to the competitive structure of last century. And we must redirect the $3,000 per taxpayer per year that is being frittered away on other wasted projects, like bridges to nowhere, and invest it in government-owned oil drilling and alternative fuel development. Then we can lease back the new oil wells and technology to private industry.

Is Jim Sensenbrenner ready to tackle these political fixes? I doubt it.

Jack Lohman is a retired CEO of a Milwaukee-based firm and director of

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