On Congressional Bribery

Normally, if I were to contemplate resorting to bribery to change someone's decision, I would have to face two hurdles.  First, of course, I would face legal consequences because in many contexts., bribery is illegal.  Second, I would have to consider the cost -- is the price being demanded worth it.  After all, it makes little sense to spend a million dollars to bribe someone to make a decision worth a hundred thousand dollars to me.

But, unfortunately, neither of these problems exist when Congressional leadership seeks to bribe recalcitrant lawmakers to vote their way.  Bribery in this context is not illegal, its just "horsetrading."   And the cost is meaningless, because folks like Nancy Pelosi do not bear the cost of the bribe, taxpayers do.

It is totally clear to me that Obama and Pelosi will spend any amount of money to pass their key legislative initiatives.  In the case of Waxman-Markey, the marginal price per vote turned out to be about $3.5 billion.  But they didn't even blink at paying this.  That is why I fear that some horrible form of health care "reform" may actually pass.  If it does, the marginal cost per vote may be higher, but I don't think our leaders care.


  1. silvermine:

    Wow. I never thought of it that way. I mean, I hate the bribes and stuff, but never thought to compute what of our money they were spending to do it per vote. That makes me want to go throw up.

  2. James H:

    O has used his great powers to declare that the Earth shall not warm more than 2 degrees C, so let it be written, so let it be done. Congress must do whatever it takes to make sure that happens, money is no object. Now O has declared that everyone must have government health insurance, even those that prefer not to get insurance, so let it be written, so let it be done. Costs and pesky congress must not get in the way. "Nancy, Harry, you must carry this mission forward at all costs in order to secure your place in the promised land."

    Sorry, that's a bit over-the-top, but it's how it feels the country is being run. Some pundits predict that if these 2 measures can be defeated, O would then become a lame-duck before his first year in office was up, having used up his political capital. I wrote my congressional reps already, but they already agree on these issues. There needs to be enough dissent in the districts whose delegates support these bills.

  3. ColoComment:

    In addition to the financial cost of the bribes, there's the fact that legislation passes, due to the "purchase" of sufficient votes, that would otherwise not be approved on its merits alone. Accordingly, the country gets annually gets a passle of regulation, welfare programs, and pork that is nothing more than a redistribution of wealth from those who produce to those who don't, which is how congresspeople keep their seats for 30+ years.

    That's why the DeMints and the Coburns, and the Kyls stand out. They really do seem to be in it for a more altruistic purpose.

    BTW, does anyone have DeMint's new book "Saving Freedom" yet?

  4. Peter:

    Well James I live in one of those districts but my representatives and senators are so in the bag for both health care and cap and trade I might as well write Obama and ask him to veto his own legislation. I may have better chances at getting them to spend our money on trying to stop global warming on Mars first. You know as a test community. At least that way they can't blame the chinese on ruining their efforts.

  5. Not Sure:

    "There needs to be enough dissent in the districts whose delegates support these bills."

    -James H

    I admire your optimism, but there was certainly plenty of dissent over bailouts for the banks/automakers/etc. and we all know how that turned out, don't we?

  6. rsm:

    I like the clear way you expressed that, I had similar thoughts after seeing an article on what it took to change one Ohio rep's vote on the bill. Makes me queasy thinking of how things will look down the line as I keep thinking that these people don't actually understand what money is, how it is made or the numbers they bandy about. When I read 1.5T health care bill, I blanch. I really don't think they have any understanding of the scale of what they are talking about.

  7. Mesa Econoguy:

    Here’s an even clearer way: gimme free shit, or I’ll put you out of business.

    I’m thinking of a movie….hmmmm……

    [minus the fee-based “protection” aspect]

  8. Mesa Econoguy:

    I completely apologize for my previous comment:

    Nancy Pelosi is far too incompetent to garner any private enterprise notoriety.

  9. Sean A:

    America, the great experiment in freedom, is over. Welcome to Brazil.