The current issue of the New Yorker has an article that well describes the culture of corruption in Washington, D.C. “Washington Man” by George Packer tells of Jeff Connaughton’s trajectory through our nation’s capital — first as an idealistic aide to Senator Joe Biden, then as a well-paid industry lobbyist, then as an aide to Delaware Senator Ted Kaufman, and finally as a disillusioned outsider.
In short, Washington, D.C. is thoroughly corrupted by money, especially by Wall Street cash. Kaufman and Connaughton tried to pass effective financial reform but were outgunned and betrayed. Government workers are underpaid. Industry lobbyists are fantastically over-paid. Almost nobody lobbies for the Peoples’ interest. Corporations hijack regulator agencies. Rampant white collar crime is overlooked.
In other words, the usual.
Here are some quotations from the article.
Between 1998 and 2004, forty-two percent of the representatives and half the senators who left office went on to lobby their former colleagues. Thousands of congressional aides also decamped for K Street, as did hundreds of Connaughton’s colleagues in the Clinton Administration. When Connaughton first passed through the “revolving door,” the practice was still called “selling out.” Later, it became known as “cashing in,” a phrase that conveyed envy, not judgement.
Connaughton had become what he called a Professional Democrat … who shuttled between jobs predicated on corporate cash and increasingly prominent positions in the Democratic Party…. Professional Republicans ascended in Washington even more easily, because their party affiliation didn’t require them to affect disdain for big-money politics.
The residents of the nicer mobile homes were voting Republican.
[Paul Volker] said, “You know, just about whatever anyone proposes, the banks will come out and claim that it will restrict credit and harm the economy.” Eyes magnified by glasses, cagey creases running down the sides of his mouth, he took a long pause before adding, “It’s all bullshit.” [Reminds me of GOP claims that taxes will increase unemployment.]
There were three thousand lobbyists swarming Capitol Hill, urging Congress not to do anythying substantial about the wreckage their clients had made.