Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Robert Reich has the real story in the Hastert affair: "anticipatory bribery"

The main focus of the ruckus about former House speaker Hastert has been the allegations of improper sexual conduct. But Reich tells us about the more menacing scandal. How could Hastert afford the hush money, the millions of dollars paid and promised?

In the 1970s, only 3 percent of retiring members of Congress went on to become Washington lobbyists. Now, half of all retiring senators and 42 percent of retiring representatives become lobbyists.

This isn’t because more recent retirees have had fewer qualms. It’s because the financial rewards from lobbying have mushroomed, as big corporations and giant Wall Street banks have sunk fortunes into rigging the game to their advantage.

Is it any wonder that approval ratings of Congress have tanked? Reich calls for restrictions on what former legislators can do and get paid during their years immediately following their leaving Congress. That would take an act of Congress. Good luck with that.

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