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Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets (2013)

by Peter Schweizer

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781349,628 (4.07)None
Politics. Nonfiction. HTML:

"Schweizer names guilty parties . . . He exposes powerful figures in politics, law firms, and corporations." Forbes
Washington is no longer about lawmaking, it's about moneymaking
Conventional wisdom holds that Washington is broken because outside special interests bribe politicians. The reverse is true: politicians have developed a new set of brass-knuckle legislative tactics designed to extort wealthy industries and donors into forking over big donations cash that lawmakers often funnel into the pockets of their friends and family.
Inside this best-selling bombshell of a book, Schweizer reveals the exorbitant secret "fees" each political party charges politicians for top committee assignments; how fourteen members of Congress bagged hundreds of thousands of dollars using a little-known self-loan loophole; how politicians use PACs to bankroll lavish lifestyles; and much more. Washington's extortion racket has gone unreported until now.

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A disturbing book. It tells you everything you knew was true about government corruption but were afraid to admit. The trouble with government is NOT that this party or that party is in control and is doing wrong, but rather it is that both parties are corrupt and playing their voter bases for fools. Democrats might think that corporations should be regulated and that their political leaders are dedicated to doing just that. Republicans might think that corporations are already overregulated and that their political leaders are dedicated to rolling back regulations. These are lies.

Actually, politicians and bureaucrats are gaming the system, trying to maximize the amount of money available for their personal use. They have figured out ways of doing this that are "extralegal"; that is, not ethical but not technically illegal, either.

Often, their methods look a lot like extortion. (Schweizer points out that often the difference between a bribe and extortion is a matter of perception; you have to look at the preponderance of evidence to tell them apart, and even then it may be difficult to prove.)

Under the current set up, legislation is not for doing good, it's for extorting money out of corporations. As Peter Schweizer puts it, money is not corrupting politics; politicians are already corrupt, and they are corrupting money in several different ways. Why else would corporations only give to politicians--whether Democrats or Republicans--mainly on the occasion of important legislation that helps (or hurts) those corporations, and why would powerful committee chairmen or party leaders who have the most sway on votes--who can even determine whether and when a vote will happen--attract the most donations? Why else does each side depend on the supposed abuses of the other side to gin up contributions but never do anything to reform the system so those alleged abuses stop? Why does each politician have several different campaign funds that they use to accumulate money for themselves or even to pay off each other? Why is it that--even though economists agree that tax credits for research and development have been good for the economy and for the general improvement of life--Congress has not made these credits permanent but instead has voted to extend them every few years since 1981, thus making corporations contribute to politicians on both sides on the occasion of each vote? Why do members of the administration hire themselves out as consultants to help corporations fight arcane laws and hostile policies that these former insiders formulated? Why are corporations so easily persuaded to hire relatives of politicians as consultants?

This book paints a depressing picture of what Schweizer calls "the permanent political class." Depressing because these people will not reform the corrupt system they have built. As Schweizer puts it, you or I might complain that the system isn't working, but for the politicians and bureaucrats who are making money off of their so-called public service, the system is working fine. ( )
  MilesFowler | Jul 16, 2023 |
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Politics. Nonfiction. HTML:

"Schweizer names guilty parties . . . He exposes powerful figures in politics, law firms, and corporations." Forbes
Washington is no longer about lawmaking, it's about moneymaking
Conventional wisdom holds that Washington is broken because outside special interests bribe politicians. The reverse is true: politicians have developed a new set of brass-knuckle legislative tactics designed to extort wealthy industries and donors into forking over big donations cash that lawmakers often funnel into the pockets of their friends and family.
Inside this best-selling bombshell of a book, Schweizer reveals the exorbitant secret "fees" each political party charges politicians for top committee assignments; how fourteen members of Congress bagged hundreds of thousands of dollars using a little-known self-loan loophole; how politicians use PACs to bankroll lavish lifestyles; and much more. Washington's extortion racket has gone unreported until now.

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