Senator Baucus and His Bribes

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?

(click to enlarge)

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.

About Andrew Samwick 89 Articles

Affiliation: Dartmouth College

Andrew Samwick is a professor of economics and Director of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.

He is most widely known for his work on the economics of retirement, and his scholarly work has covered a range of topics, including pensions, saving, taxation, portfolio choice, and executive compensation.

In July 2003, Samwick joined the staff of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, serving for a year as its chief economist and helping to direct the work of about 20 economists in support of the three Presidential appointees on the Council.

Visit: Andrew Samwick's Page

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