Buying Favor: Why Congress Depends on Funding From Special Interests

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There is a problem with Congress. The previous sentence summarizes the collective sentiment of the general public concerning the legislative branch of the federal government. A 2010 Gallop poll revealed that over eighty-nine percent of Americans have no confidence in Congress (Lessig 2). It is theorized that Congress is so far out of favor because it has been unable to resolve the nation’s most important issues, such as Medicare, Medicaid, immigration reform, and the growing budget deficit, due to seemingly trivial reasons. Some theorize this lack of significant legislative action is due to growing partisanship between the system’s dominate political parties, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. According to Mark Brewer, “Politicians…are more likely to support their party and oppose the other party today than any other time since the 1950s (219).” Another hypothesis explaining the lack of legislative action by Congress is the special interest theory. According to the theory’s advocates, the Congress has not accomplished much because of the institution’s dependency on large-scale campaign contributions; and these donors would rather there be little regulation or regulations supporting their specific industry. To support this hypothesis, Harvard University law professor Lawrence Lessig authored Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress–and a Plan to Stop It in 2011. The book details the effect of campaign funding by special interests and its effect on congressmembers and government policies. Within Republic, Lost, Lessig attempts to draw interest to the issue he believes is the reason for the federal government’s inactivity: dependence corruption. He argues congressmembers have become unresponsive to the will ... ... middle of paper ... ...ed States Trade Representative. “Statement by U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk on Congressional Passage of Trade Agreements, Trade Adjustment Assistance and Key Preference Programs.” Web. 4 May 2012. . “Public Support for Increased Trade, Except With South Korea and China.” 9 Nov. 2010. Pew Research Center. Web. 4 May 2012. Tea Party Platform. “Ten Core Beliefs of the Modern-Day Tea Party Movement.” 2011. Web. 4 May 2012. . United States Bureau of the Census. “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010.” By Thom File and Sarah Crissy. May 2010. Census Bureau. Web. 4 May 2012. .
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