The so-called “Super Committee” established by the recent debt-ceiling deal is drawing scrutiny by self-styled campaign finance “reformers,” particularly when it comes to their fundraising efforts while serving on the committee.
Needless to say, the commentary and reporting on this issue suggests that what needs scrutiny is the ‘reformers’ understanding of how a democratic Republic works. Courtesy of National Public Radio:
The 12 lawmakers on the new deficit-cutting supercommittee have their hands full. They’re under orders to bring Congress a plan for cutting the deficit by more than a trillion dollars, and to do it before Thanksgiving.
At the same time, they’re also raising funds for their next campaigns, and that could be a problem if the supercommittee members are under pressure to bite the hands that feed them money…
According to Sheila Krumholz, the [Center for Responsive Politics] director, the No. 1 source of contributions [to committee members] was The Club for Growth, a group that promotes smaller government and a deregulated market. Not surprisingly, every penny of its $1 million in contributions went to Republicans.
“Microsoft was second, with $944,000,” she says. That’s money from employees and its PAC.
Democrats on the committee got almost all of it, especially their co-chair, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), whose state is where Microsoft’s home base is located.
There are many other ways to parse the donor numbers: by industry, by party and so forth. But the point is, when the supercommittee meets, its members will be pressured to make changes that would affect some of those very groups that helped them get elected.
Murray, for instance, ran an ad last year during her re-election campaign that reminded voters how she helped Boeing land a controversial Air Force contract. In Washington state, 79,000 residents work for Boeing.
But now the supercommittee has to consider whacking billions out of the Pentagon budget, and Murray will help to decide whether big contracts, likely including some for Boeing, end up on the cutting board.
Shocking, no? Senator Patty Murray, representing a state with 79,000 employees of Boeing (and who knows how many family members, subcontractors, and other persons who also depend on Boeing for their livelihoods), might actually feel some obligation to look after the interests of the voters and citizens who put her in office!
That this observation is made at all is indicative of just how badly ‘reformers’ misunderstand and even mistrust the basic concepts of our system of government. Of course Senator Murray is going to be under some pressure to consider the how her decisions will “affect some of those very groups that helped them get elected.” That’s her job, for cryin’ out loud! Our democratic Republic rests on the idea that those elected to office are supposed to represent the interests of the citizens who elect them.
The idea of insulating government from the suspect interests and preferences of the populace is not a new one of course, but it seems worth noting that 235 years ago, give or take, the idea that government officials should be responsive to the citizenry got rolling in the country, and few seem eager to abandon it. Except, apparently, for some ‘reformers.’