NOV. 13, 2013 -- In 1998, we raised $8.5 million to be elected the seventh time to the U.S. Senate. This requires raising $27,000 a week, every week, for six years.
Now it would take $35,000 every week. Senator Lindsey Graham has already raised $7 million. This need of money in campaigns has put the lobbyists in charge of government. We used to wheel and deal as Senators, fixing the vote.
Now, the lobbyists wheel and deal, fix the vote long before the roll is called. In fact, they tell the Leader or Speaker when to call the roll. Wall Street, the big banks and Corporate America are the biggest contributors to the President and Congress (R's and D's).
them in charge of Congress. They want to make sure the China profits keep
flowing and oppose any action that would annoy China. They don't want
the U.S. to compete in globalization. They contribute to do nothing about
China's devaluation of its currency; to do nothing about enforcing trade
laws against China's predatory practices; to do nothing to limit our deficit
in the balance of trade; to do nothing about a value added tax, which
would make the U.S. competitive in globalization. They contribute to Congress
to do nothing.
use a VAT to compete in globalization which is rebated on exports. Our
Corporate Tax is not rebated. An entrepreneur in the U.S. has to pay the
35 percent Corporate Tax and is levied a 17 percent VAT when his exports
reach China. A competitor, producing the same product in China, imports
the product tax free to the United States and puts the entrepreneur out
of business. Not having a VAT is killing manufacture in the U.S.
the 35 percent Corporate Tax with a 7 percent VAT permits Congress to
balance the budget in two years rather than these ten year plans that
never balance. Last year's Corporate Tax produced revenues of $236.8 billion.
A 7 percent VAT for last year would have produced $922 billion. Everyone
in Congress says they are for tax cuts, tax reform and cutting the size
of government. This tax cut does all these things but Wall Street, the
big banks and Corporate America oppose, so Congress does nothing.
Congress could retake control of the government from the lobbyists by limiting spending in elections. Limiting spending limits the fundraising, limits the partisanship caused by raising money against each other and limits the lobbyist's control of Congress.
Congress limited spending in elections in 1973 and President Nixon signed it into law. Strom Thurmond and I were limited to so much per registered voter or $687,000. Today, a contested race for the U.S. Senate would take $5 million, not the $10-$12 million required. The Supreme Court in Buckley vs. Valeo equated spending with speech and set the law aside. We know paying a consultant or pollster in the campaign is not speech.
The only way to correct this is a Constitutional Amendment: "The Congress is empowered to limit or control spending in federal elections." The Governor's Conference called and wanted the States included. No doubt the States would ratify such an amendment.
Mark Udall of Colorado has introduced such an amendment in the Senate
with a dozen cosponsors but no vote on the amendment for three years.
Members of the Senate don't want to have to vote to limit their advantage.
They are ensconced amongst 12,000 lobbyists and can fundraise morning,
noon and night for six years. Wall Street, the big banks and Corporate
America oppose this Constitutional Amendment because it limits their control.
Economists blame the Great Recession for the languishing economy. The recession has been over for four years. The economy languishes because of the loss of jobs from offshoring jobs; from the horrendous trade deficits; from the failure of the President and Congress to make it attractive for Corporate America to invest in America.
could make it attractive by protecting U.S. production from predatory
practices. The Congress could make it attractive by replacing the Corporate
Tax with a VAT. This immediately jumpstarts the economy by releasing $2
trillion in offshore profits for Corporate America to repatriate tax free
and invest and create millions of jobs. But the President and Congress
are paid to do nothing. They enjoy gridlock.
Senator Hollings of South Carolina served 38 years in the United States Senate, and for many years was Chairman of the Commerce, Space, Science & Transportation Committee. He is the author of Making Government Work (University of South Carolina Press, 2008).
© 2013, Ernest F. Hollings. All rights reserved. Contact us for republication permission.
About Fritz Hollings
Ernest F. Hollings served the public for 56 years -- 38 years in the United States Senate and as South Carolina's governor, lieutenant governor and a member of the S.C. House of Representatives.
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