At last: How to get Congress to work a full week

Americans do not have an effective Congress because its members’ fears of political poverty leave them spending too much time begging for money from those who have lots of it. That leaves too little time for members to deliberate, seek nuanced compromise, and, ultimately, legislate effectively. Many proposals to fix this coin-operated Congress have been proposed, but a special Scholars & Rogues High Commission on Ending Ineptitude and Malfeasance in Congress has found a way to put Congress on a dialing-for-dollars diet.

Congressional races are pricey. Challengers and incumbents spend millions of dollars to buy and retain their Hill seats. Political spending in presidential election years has doubled each cycle since 2000. Members of Congress spend 30 to 70 percent of their time raising money. That’s time spent keeping their jobs, not doing their jobs. Senator Kent Conrad, a retiring Democrat of North Dakota, said:

We spend now too much of our time seeking partisan advantage. We spend too little time trying to solve problems. We spend too little time in our caucuses, in our meetings, focused on how to solve the problems facing the country.

The S&R investigative commission has crafted a path to financial freedom for members of Congress that will keep them on the House and Senate floors and in committee hearings (instead of sending staff — unless the media’s gonna be there). Those in our legislative branch of government will be able to actually stay in Washington, D.C., on weekends instead of attending fundraisers back in the district. They’ll get to have dinner weeknights with their families. They can invite their congressional colleagues out for a beer without a horde of K Street lobbyists in tow.

S&R proposes assigning American billionaires to each fund all costs of one Senate or House race. In return, Congress can allow them to deduct these “donations” to reduce their taxes. Heck, collectively they’re only paying an effective tax rate of 18 percent. They’ll love this new deduction. Their average net worth is $4.4 billion. The most recent Forbes 400 list notes their net worth increased, on average, by $400 million in the previous year.

So they pony up the dough for congressional races. Then members of Congress may unfasten the dialing-for-dollars phone from their ears. Everybody’s happy.

Every two years, Americans vote on all 435 House seats and a third of the 100 Senate seats. That’s about 468 races for billionaires to cough up the coin for. Hey, when you’ve got multiple billions, $10 million or $15 million to cover primaries and general elections with all candidates is chump change.

But there’s a problem. America has only 425 billionaires, and 468 races need to be covered. So we’re 43 billionaires short. Not to worry: The top 43 billionaires will cover two races each. After all, billionaire No. 43, 79-year-old Leonard Lauder, is the poorest at $7.7 billion. In presidential years, all 425 billionaires will kick in about $10 million each to cover the $4 billion that the 2016 primary and general elections might cost. After all, Barack and Mitt alone spent about $2.5 billion in 2012.

There you have it, courtesy of the Scholars & Rogues High Commission on Ending Ineptitude and Malfeasance in Congress. No need to thank us. Always glad to offer a public service.

What’s that, you say? Billionaires funding elections will lead to corporatism in the highest offices of the land?

Man, where you been for the past quarter century? We’re merely codifying what already exists.

4 replies »

  1. Good Lord! That might actually work!! We can even add, at the end of the debates/commercials/whatever, “this election brought to you by [insert billionaires name here]”.

  2. DD–wonderful post–wry, clever, entertaining and fabulous opening graf. “political poverty” “coin operated congress.” One of the best posts I can remember.