Thursday, November 21, 2019

Verum Quid Pro Quo

A quid pro quo (Latin: I give, so that you may give) is an exchange of valuable consideration of equal value; something given for something else; a tit for tat; in legal terms, an equivalent; a thing given or offered in exchange for or in consideration of another. The practice of offering consideration of one sort or another for benefit has existed in our republic since the beginning, but it may have become out of control and may be destroying everything we cherish about our exceptional form of governance.

Every member of Congress has his or her own version of quid pro quo performed on them nearly every day by a number of people that surround and outnumber them by a factor of 23 to 1 by way of representation. This is the world of lobbyists.

The recent impeachment hearings attempted to pin the charge of bribery on the President. Did he really exercise a bribe in the course of his exchange with another sovereign nation? What is bribery and how do we recognize it? Is there any difference between bribery and campaign donations? Are speaking fees in excess of $100,000 a form of bribery? What about the guarantee of a seven-figure income after you quit your government job? If you are given access to purchase pre-IPO stocks, does that pass the smell test? And then there is the huge amount of consideration that lobbyists lavishly paint the town of DC with – isn't that really quid pro quo?

When you have over twelve thousand special interest lobbyists swarming around Washington with more money than any of us can imagine, who really has the power in DC? Spending by lobbyists in the US exceeded $3,400,000,000.00 in 2018 alone. Whose pockets did this end up in? When you look at the distribution of wealth among current senators and congressional representatives, there are currently 12 members worth over $50 million, 34 worth between $10 and $50 million, 157 between $1 and $10 million, 155 between $100,000 and $1 million, 49 with net worth between $0 and $100,000, and 123 with a negative net worth. Considering that as of 2019, the base salary for all rank-and-file members of the U.S. House and Senate was $174,000 per year, plus benefits, how did many of these people accumulate such wealth after arriving in Washington?

Lobbying benefits both sides of the aisle and it keeps former members of government with their deeply rooted relationships in Washington on the payroll of lobbying companies. Lobbyists are a large part of the swamp that the President is trying to drain. While President Trump has placed a permanent ban on some government officials from ever performing lobbying duties after leaving government service, even with that there currently are lobbyists who have formerly worked for 18 members of Congress and 11 Senators.

So why is lobbying even legal in the United States? Outside interests continue to pour money into Washington to rewrite our laws in their version of real life quid pro quo - not the faux quid pro quo of the impeachment hearings by hypocritical members of Congress. Lobbying must be effective for large companies to continue to send billions of dollars to Washington to influence legislation. After all, when scrutiny or oversight increase, so do lobbying efforts and money. Big Money believes it is money well spent.

The bottom line is that Big Money controls our government of representatives which were elected to represent the interests of the people first and foremost. Big Money is the real quid pro quo. Bribery is how business gets done in Washington. Follow the money.

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