I heard a fascinating presentation on lobbying yesterday. The most shocking figure was the $4 million that Senator Baucus has taken from the health and insurance sectors in his political career. The graphic below from the Sunlight Foundation shows how Senator Baucus is connected to companies and associations with a vested interest in how health reform turns out. Much of it is built around his former staffers who have now become lobbyists. I know, I’m late to this party. Months ago, Ezra Klein asked the question, “Why Does Max Baucus Take this Money?”
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It’s a good question, and by focusing on the senator’s choice, avoids the delicate balance between a citizen’s right to support a candidate and the flagrant bribery of elected officials. So I’ll ask a different question, as a form of a modest proposal to get the money out of politics. Why should it be legal to make a political contribution to a candidate who is not running for an office that represents you as a constituent? I do not think it should be. Imagine how different this senator’s incentives would be if he could only raise money from the residents of Montana as individuals and not from organized interests.