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Fix It: Washington's Broken Political Class


Americans are frustrated and tired with Washington, D.C. The modern day Tea Party movement and its impact throughout the country is evidence of people’s frustration with inept and out-of-touch government. The recent Occupy movement arose partly out of this same frustration. The common thread throughout our country is that those in Washington just don’t get it and Americans want their country back.

We are tired of regulations that stifle job creation. We’re tired of the Obama administration blocking domestic oil production even while oil spikes to over $100 a barrel and we are continually reliant on foreign countries for our energy needs. We’re tired of the failure of the career politicians to cut $1.2 trillion over the next year 10 years and balance our federal budget – that’s only 2% of the entire budget over that time. We don’t have a revenue problem but a spending problem so getting our country’s finances and debt under control is our generation’s greatest priority, and we must either have the courage to cut our government’s spending and lower taxes — or have the courage to put the leaders in Washington who will break this culture of business as usual.

The problem is that Washington is simply out of touch. The Beltway Bubble culture of elected officials, bureaucrats, special interests and lobbyists that look after one another while ignoring the real world’s concerns. Once we send them to DC, they tend to change and are usually there for life; moving from staff, to Member of Congress to lobbyist. Often serving for stretch of a time in an Administration. It isn’t so much a revolving door as musical chairs. And when the music stops we lose.

This cozy relationship is laid out in detail in a newly published book by Hoover Institute Fellow Peter Schweizer, Throw Them All Out. Schweizer details the sweetheart deals special interests get from the taxpayers and the ways Members of Congress and staff can use their position to enrich themselves.

Two egregious examples are:

1. In the spring of 2008, when Nancy Pelosi was speaker of the House, her husband, Paul, made a big play on Visa and acquired their shares shortly after the introduction into the House of legislation that, if passed, would adversely affect Visa’s business. Visa makes money by licensing its name to banks (which in turn issue the cards and charge customers interest) and by charging “swipe fees” to merchants who accept the card as payment. These fees paid by retailers range from 1 percent to 3 percent of the purchase amount every time a Visa card is used. The proposed 2008 law would have allowed retailers to negotiate lower fees with the major credit-card companies, who, gaining billions from those fees, predictably opposed the measure. By the time Congress did finally act on the issue, as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the value of Pelosi’s IPO shares had more than doubled, while the market as a whole had shown a double-digit decline.

2. Then there are the green energy loans. You’ve probably heard about Solyndra, the “green energy” company that got $500 million from taxpayers has it was hurtling towards bankruptcy. One of the company’s chief backers was George Kaiser, and Oklahoma billionaire and, coincidentally, a major donor to Obama. But, Solyndra is the tip of the iceberg. As Schweizer details, of the $20 billion taxpayers put into ‘green energy’ companies, over $16 billion went to prominent Obama supporters and major donors.

The worst of it all? This is perfectly legal. If any of us regular citizens made the kind of investments and stock trades that Congressmen or their staff makes, we would be investigated by the SEC and sentenced to possible jail time. But, these rules don’t apply to Congress! The details in Schweizer’s book are so shocking that Congress has been forced to act. Just this past week the Senate held hearings on new legislation that would make insider trading by members of congress and staff illegal. And today the House will hold a hearing to consider similar legislation. Even if Congress were to pass this bill, it would only be a small step towards fixing what’s broken in Washington.

Washington isn’t going to fix itself, we have to fix it. That’s why I’m running for Congress. We have to stop the musical chairs. Washington is good at working for itself, its time it worked for us the taxpayers.


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