Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Who Controls Congress?

For those of you who still hold out hope that Congress is OUR elected representatives and they are dedicated solely to the purpose of helping the public we have a simple response, fat chance! Once upon a time that might have been the case but once upon a time is the stuff of fairy tales not reality.

If nothing else, Congress is the old boy network updated, meaning I guess it is now the old girl and boy network or woman and man depending on how you rate the maturity of the players. It remains an institution dedicated to the preservation first and foremost to the re-election of the members, second to adherence to the spoils of seniority and third to the inevitable padding of the pockets of the campaign and personal funds of the elected officials and their staff.

I've been there, seen it, and marveled at how it continues to survive scandal after scandal, conflict of interest after conflict of interest, and a general malaise of greed as one of the most dominating virtues of members. Now that does not mean there are not good people there, but most of the good people came and went after getting hit in the side of the head by reality.

So the Congressional leadership control Congress, those with the most savvy to continuously win elections while getting their party in control, and those successful in taking over all the Congressional Committees. Right now the leaders are Harry Reid the Majority Leader in the Senate, Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House, and Steny Hoyer as House Majority Leader. Because of the dominance of the economy in world events I also include Barney Frank the Majority Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

President Obama will get nothing done to save the economy or make good on all his promises without the help from these four players. So who are they and what can we expect? Well combined they have been elected to Congress a total of 104 years with Hoyer and Frank 28 years each, Reid 26 years and Pelosi 22 years. Pelosi is second in line to be president if something should prevent Obama from serving his full term.

One interesting fact about the Democratic leadership and Obama is their religious diversity as every one of the five is from a different religion, something unusual in politics and indicative of the religious diversity of the American public. Obama is Protestant, Reid Mormon, Pelosi Roman Catholic, Hoyer Baptist and Frank Jewish. Another interesting fact is the ages in that Pelosi and Frank will be 69 this year, Hoyer and Reid will be 70, while Obama will be just 48.

Harry Reid, Senator from Nevada, has a personal worth of about $6 million and though he was not up for re-election this past year he still raised $11.6 million in campaign funds and has $2.75 million cash on hand after the election. Of the money raised 69% came from individuals and 29% from Special Interest groups. Of course many of the individual contributions could be from individuals in special interest groups.

Nancy Pelosi, a Maryland native now in California raised $2.8 million in 2008 and has over $405,813 cash on hand. Of the total 47% came from individuals and 53% from special interest groups. Her opponent spent $720,000 and Pelosi won 71% of the vote.

Steny Hoyer, powerful Maryland House leader raised $3.67 million and has over $800,000 cash on hand with 33% of his money coming from individuals and 65% from special interest groups. His number one contributor was J P Morgan banking. Hoyer's opponent raised just $22,570, being outspent more than 10 to 1 and Hoyer won 74% of the vote.

Barney Frank raised $2.2 million and spent $2.7 million and he still shows a cash balance of $326,694 which seems to be rather unusual accounting but those are the federal reports. Of his total 51% came from individuals and 44% from special interest groups. His opponent only raised $39,000 and Frank won 74% of the vote.

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