‘Invisible power brokers’ hold control

We all vote for who we want to represent us in Washington D.C., but often times it’s the people in Washington who are not elected who impact our lives by way of our elected representatives.

These are the “invisible” power brokers working behind the scenes to either exploit our decisions for national elected office, or negate them altogether.

I call these power brokers invisible because the average person doesn’t see them, and that is just the way they like it for the most part.

Lobbyists are hired by every imaginable industry — and those who stand to gain by that industry’s success or failure—to influence our elected officials to vote how the lobbyist would like them to. This is done usually through campaign donations or promised electoral support of those working in the industry.

According to Opensecrets.org, this year there are 12,016 lobbyists in the nation’s capital. With 100 Senators and 435 members of the House of Representatives, that means that lobbyists in Washington outnumber elected legislators by a ratio of approximately 22.5 to 1.

This is a perversion of our democracy to say the least. Is it any wonder that legislators from opposing parties don’t agree on anything?

Both sides have groups, which support the side of the issue that is more in line with their party’s platform, throwing “incentives” at them to keep them from even considering the other side of the issue.

Some of the invisible power brokers who influence our elected representatives are not just lobbyists but also lead organizations solely designed to place undue pressure on the legislators’ decision about specific issues.

One of the people who have most influenced the political system in Washington over the last 25 years has never run for an elected office. His name is Grover Norquist and he is the head of a group called Americans for Tax Reform.

Norquist was asked by then President Ronald Reagan to form ATR to reduce government revenues as a percentage of the national gross domestic product.

One of Norquist’s more successful endeavors as the head of ATR has been to pressure Republican legislators into signing the group’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which states that those who sign it pledge to “One, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; and two, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.”

Signing a pledge such as this should disqualify you from holding elected office. If you have signed this pledge, then it would seem to me that you have already sworn an oath that you would consider to be a higher priority than the oath that you swear upon your inauguration; to uphold the Constitution and represent those who elected you.

And it is not as if only a few legislators have signed this pledge. Before the elections earlier this month, 238 of 242 Republicans in the House of Representatives and 41 of 47 Republicans in the Senate had signed this pledge. That amounts to about 95 percent of all Republicans in the U.S. Congress.

And Norquist is not one to just let it slide if someone who has signed his pledge decides later to change his or her mind.

For proof of that all you need to do is watch the news.

Since the election went the way it did (now that most provisional ballots have been counted the numbers show that Republican nominee Mitt Romney only received about 47 percent of the national vote), and the fact that new across-the-board spending cuts are set to take effect in January (across-the-board meaning that the cuts will apply to programs viewed as essential to both Republicans and Democrats) some congressional Republicans are starting to show signs of backpedaling on their ATR pledge (Hallelujah!), and Norquist has begun chastising them through the media.

Norquist says that conservatives will not forget (during the next election) any Republican who breaks his or her pledge to never raise taxes.

I hope that is true, but instead of holding it against them I hope that voters will remember the members of Congress — on both sides — who were willing to negotiate and compromise with their opposition for the good of their country.

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