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Saturday, September 30, 2006

House for Sale

As Congress was shredding the Constitution this past week, Nancy Pelosi and other House "leaders" were hard at work--extorting their colleagues to give money to the Party. From the NY Times:
To move up the ladder in Congress, you must do more than win votes. You are, quite literally, expected to pay your dues.

If you are a rank-and-file member of the House, the amount is up to $100,000. If your ambitions are to preside over a powerful committee, the duty is $300,000. For a top party leader, the tally can climb beyond $600,000.

Make those checks payable to the Republican or Democratic Congressional campaign committees.

Whether or not they are in competitive races, lawmakers are asked to mount vigorous fund-raising drives to fill their own campaign chests. Then they dole to the party, which spreads the money to the most competitive campaigns in the country.
So, even if you're a much-loved champion of the poor, easily winning re-election every two years without needing to raise much money, you're expected to sell yourself to the highest bidders if you ever want to chair a committee or be Speaker of the House. And as the Repugs were forcing torture and unlimited enemy combatantship on the country and the world, what was the possible next Speaker of the House doing?
Representative Luis V. Gutierrez, Democrat of Illinois, said he had no intention of paying his dues of $250,000, assessed because of his seniority on the Financial Services Committee. But after a two-minute telephone conversation with the minority leader, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, he changed course and sent in a check for $15,000.

"It's kind of hard to ignore," Mr. Gutierrez said in an interview, conceding that before Ms. Pelosi rang his cellphone, he had not given a nickel. "I still owe $225,000. Thank God it doesn't affect my credit score when I go get a mortgage."

It could, however, affect what committee assignments are passed out when Congress convenes in January. Several members said they had been told by party leaders that their positions could be on the line if they fail to contribute.

Last weekend, Ms. Pelosi made more than 50 telephone calls to members of her caucus, chiding them to pay their dues.
While it's somewhat alarming to note that a senior member of the Financial Services Committee apparently thinks that $250,000 minus $15,000 equals $225,000, that pales in comparison with the overall gist of the article. Only bankers are willing to spend the kind of cash Gutierrez needs to be appointed chairman of the Financial Services Committee by Speaker Pelosi, and he'll be much more steadfast in representing those bankers than he will in representing his district in Illinois (and he won't have to worry about getting a mortgage, either). If you wonder why Congress just voted another $70 billion to be flushed down the two-holer outhouse overseas, it's because the people profiting from those wars are the ones who make it possible for our Congre$$critters to climb the ladder.