Just when you thought the influence of big money in politics hit a fever pitch this year with our $4 billion midterm, our lawmakers snuck in a closing reminder that money reigns supreme in Washington.
Congress approved a $1.1 trillion end-of-year spending bill, known as "Cromnibus," full of handouts benefiting the super-rich. It was a glaring power grab by wealthy special interest groups and evidence of their corrupt grip on our lawmakers.
Wall-Street-friendly lawmakers added a retrograde piece of legislation -- written by lobbyists from Citigroup -- deregulating the banks, allowing them to make high-risk trades with taxpayer dollars (the same type of high-risk activities that led America to the 2008 financial crisis).
While most Democrats voted against the bill, the ones that did vote in favor of Cromnibus received twice as much money from the financial industry than the ones who voted against it. Wall Street altogether spent $1.5 million per day in the last election cycle and it is certainly paying off.
The spending bill came with another holiday surprise. Cromnibus will increase the amount that individuals can give to a political party -- tenfold. This means there's going to be a whole lot more money buying political favors in Washington.
Republicans and Democrats are both to blame for not vetoing this backsliding policy on campaign finance. They chose to keep it in the bill and, by passing it through, they have further downgraded our democracy into a service center for America's most wealthy few. And as our representatives help big money get even bigger, it's at the expense of the American people.
For example, although 70 percent of Washington, D.C. voted to legalize the use of recreational marijuana, it was nullified in Cromnibus with the help of Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD). One of the Congressman's biggest campaign donors is a pharmaceutical company that sells pain-killing meds. While Rep. Harris ascribed his anti-marijuana zeal to keeping teenagers drug-free, he failed to mention the fat checks he received from big pharma who would hate to have marijuana competing with their products.
This is an appalling example of money-hungry legislators undermining the will of the people.
"It is breathtakingly cynical to give even more power to the wealthy and well-connected on the heels of an election that ushered in a new, dangerous era of big money in politics," stated Rep. John Sarbanes.
Many of our lawmakers would rather advance the interests of their wealthy donors than actually represent the people. 91 percent of Americans disapprove of Congress already, and this spending bill has generated even more distrust between Washington and voters.
As our politicians continue to collude with big moneyed groups, it's up to all of us -- the public -- to take a united stand to stamp big money in politics.
The Stamp Stampede is nearly 30,000 citizens that are mad as hell and doing something about it. We're legally rubber stamping paper currency with messages like "Not To Be Used for Bribing Politicians" in order to create a mass visual demonstration of support for common-sense reform that ends the culture of corruption in Washington. With hundreds of new people joining every day, we're creating a petition on steroids to take back our democracy.