Home Opinion Columns The people’s congress? I beg to differ

The people’s congress? I beg to differ

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U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks at her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)

By Shane Madden

Congress is broken and it doesn’t represent you. I can’t point to the day it broke, but it wasn’t recent. Both parties serve the purpose of catering to whichever corporate interests are paying their bills and funding their reelection campaigns. A pay to play club of millionaires, intent on crafting the rules in such a way as to maximize their profit and retain their position of power. Legislating for the poor, who live lives they could never understand. 

Of the people?  

According to opensecrets.org, as of the latest financial disclosures, the average wealth of congressional members comes in at just over $1 million. We can see a direct correlation between years spent in congress and increase in wealth that far exceeds simply collecting a salary. The number of members that manage to turn a few years of their $174,000 salaries into multimillion-dollar stock portfolios reeks of what used to be called insider trading. While others, already rich, buy their way into the congress with millions of dollars of their own money, knowing with certainty they will get a return on their investment. Really take a moment to think about why a multimillionaire would dump $50 million into a campaign to take a massive pay cut. Does that sound like an investment someone (with a personal accountant) would make without a guaranteed return? How can the wealthy and the silver spoon fed possibly legislate for the average American?

By the people? 

The idea is that “we the people” choose our representatives. Indirect Democracy: pretty simple. Except every 10 years, be it red or blue, both parties do their best to gerrymander districts into shapeless monstrosities to fit their ambitions. In addition, the widespread name recognition and insurmountable flow of campaign cash ensures that 95% of incumbents are reelected, without term limits. (opensecrets.org)  

 For the people?

Congress and the lobbying industry practically share headquarters, with lobbyists outnumbering members 5-1. According to opensecrets.org, 448 former members of congress now work as lobbyists receiving million-dollar salaries, working daily to influence the decisions of former colleagues still serving,  and undermining the will of the constituency with sacks of campaign cash.   

We have just witnessed the greatest wealth transfer in the history of the world as billionaire wealth surged by 70% since the start of the pandemic. If we assume money is a finite resource, that $2.1 trillion had to come from somewhere. From you, your parents and your friends. Everyone you know who doesn’t have a fourth vacation house near the equator.

Americans are struggling – everywhere. Housing costs are out of control and real wages haven’t moved in almost 50 years. Someone please, explain to me how the two most significant things congress has achieved in the last decade are tax cuts for the wealthy under former President Donald Trump (Tax Cuts and Jobs Act), then more tax cuts for the wealthy, smoothed over with some infrastructure and an insulin price cap proposed in President Biden’s Build Back Better plan. It’s a bad joke and we are the punchline.  

The two-party system only exists to give you the illusion of choice, as each party rakes you over the coals for tax revenue then subsidizes corporations to invent products to sell back to you. The consumer.  

Both parties are robbing us blind. We the people deserve better.

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