Interesting article in Time this week with some incredibly disturbing quotes from four retiring Senators on what’s wrong with the U.S. Senate.
South Carolina’s Fritz Hollings:
The body politic has got a cancer of money. I ran in 1998, and I raised $8.5 million. That’s about $30,000 a week, each week, every week, for six years … I’ve got to get money, money, money, money. And I only listen to the people who give me money.
The last line should trouble all Americans. Something is wrong with our democracy.
Having tried the heavy-handed approach of McCain-Feingold legislation, most would agree that big money hasn’t been curtailed from the system. Tax reform may provide the only restraint to the system.
Lawmakers should strip the tax code of all the breaks, loopholes, and incentives they have granted for the last 50 years to gain favor with their contributors. Congress should then replace the code with some form of flat tax. The new tax should ensure that poor people aren’t unfairly burdened.
Businesses and individuals will still lobby for outright cash disbursements (think farm subsidies), but it will be harder to approve real spending rather than offering an “incentive” in the form of a tax break. Hopefully, books like these will become a distant memory.
Maybe with fewer reasons for the rich to lobby members of Congress, they’ll actually start listening to people who don’t give them any money.