Re: [FAIRTAX_DD] Newt
Newt is certainly well aware of the FairTax. When he held his seminars on reinventing America a couple of years ago here in GA, the FairTax workshop had extremely high participation - far more than the flat tax workshop. He has been a guest on Boorz's show many times and he always pats FairTaxers on the head when he does so. His reservations about the FairTax sound as if he were reading from a script written by Steve Forbes.
The answer to your question is fairly long and involved. For a thorough and complete understanding, I would recommend the book So Damn Much Money - The Triumph of Lobbying and the Corrosion of the American Government by Robert G. Kaiser.
In the book, Kaiser documents the first earmark in US legislative history. It was passed in 1978. Since then, several trends have combined to bring about the system we have today.
1. Earmarks have exploded in number and cost to the federal treasury,
2. the cost of running a federal congressional campaign has increased dramatically, due to the cost of the emerging tools of polling and tv advertising,
3. incumbents have increasingly had to spend major portions of their time raising cash for their next reelection campaign (often referred to as "dialing for dollars"),
4. lobbying has become a conduit for funneling millions of dollars in special interest money into the campaign coffers of congressional candidates, almost exclusively for incumbents,
5. earmarks and tax preferences have become the currency of choice for repaying the huge amounts of campaign financing from the special interests,
6. from a purely business perspective, these huge campaign contributions and lobbying fees make a lot of sense, because it is typical for a contributor to receive far more back in benefits (via earmarks and tax preferences) than he/she has expended,
7. public service (at either an elective or staff level) has increasingly become seen as a stepping stone to the far more lucrative career of a lobbyist, many of whom make 7 figures. Any idea what Trent Lott or John Breough are doing now?
In other words, we have evolved into a political system which benefits the special interests and the incumbents of both parties (D or R, conservative or liberal), but has squeezed the American public out of the representation which had been its right. Is it any wonder that public opinion surveys indicate that the public does not feel that congress actually represents them? The public is correct in this regard.
Newt is very much a product of this system. Kaiser reports that when Newt led the Republican takeover of congress in 1994, they used the opportunity to displace the Democrat lobbyists with Republican lobbyists. Note: He did NOT use the opportunity to clean up the system and make it more responsive to the American people.
I apologize for the length of this response, but yours is a serious question which I felt deserved a serious response.
"Few lobbyists proffer an explicit quid pro quo to elected officials. They don't have to. Their influence comes simply from having more access to those officials than the average voter, having better information than the average voter, and having more staying power when it comes to promoting an obscure provision in the tax code that means billions for their clients and that nobody else cares about."
Sen. Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope
Sen Obama did not mention the special interest cash that the lobbyists control as a source of power, but his other points are well taken.
"The death-knell of The Republic had rung as soon as the active power became lodged in the hands of those who sought, not to do justice to all citizens, rich and poor alike, but to stand for one special class and its interests, as opposed to the interests of others."
Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt
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