The Buying of the Congress

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9780380975969: The Buying of the Congress

: A startling and groundbreaking expose, THE BUYING OF THE CONGRESS details the ways in which special interests worm themselves into the lives of Capitol Hill lawmakers--who in turn protect polluters, cigarette manufacturers, food producers, the airline industry, the insurance industry, corporate tax cheats, and other big-money interests. WHAT DOES ALL THIS HAVE TO DO WITH YOU?You cannot shop at the local supermarket or drugstore, visit a hospital emergency room, watch television, pay your taxes, or even breathe the air outside your home without being directly affected by the decisions that Congress makes--decisions that, increasingly, favor special interests at your expense.Now, Charles Lewis and the Center for Public Integrity--the watchdog organization that brought us the explosive The Buying of the President and broke the story of how the Clinton Administration "rented out" the Lincoln Bedroom--reveal just how and why Congress has been so unresponsive to the basic concerns of ordinary citizens. Based on the work of an investigative team of more than three dozen people, the conclusions they reach are simple--and simply frightening.Deftly exposing the Byzantine channels through which unprecedented sums of money flow into Washington, THE BUYING OF CONGRESS reveals facts like these:+Although thousands of Americans dies each year from poisoned foods and millions more become ill, Congress has consistently protected the food industry from tougher safety standards. In the past decade, the food industry has fed Members of Congress more that $40 million in campaign contributions.+Fortune 500 firms gave more than $180 million to Capitol Hill lawmakers from 1987 to 1996. In return, Congress has cut their taxes dramatically. Today, corporate income taxes account for just 10 percent of all federal revenue--down from 28 percent in 1956.

+Every year, hundreds of teenagers are killed on the job and tens of thousands more are injured. Yet Congress has toed the li

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Review:

In The Buying of the Congress, Charles Lewis and his cohorts at the Center for Public Integrity show how powerful industries and people influence our representatives in Washington to pass legislation that helps corporations but hurts regular citizens. They describe how the campaign-finance system and the myriad lobbyists in Washington, D.C., corrupt politicians, or at least make them forget that their primary duty is to protect the interests of the general public. Many readers may already have an inkling that something is awry with our political system; the authors hope that the facts in this book will encourage people to act on those suspicions:

The decisions illuminated in this book all affect our daily lives, and whether or not the current political milieu is appealing to us or the latest ethical imbroglio is surprising to us, the people we elect work for us. They are our employees, and it is up to us to remind them of that.
After outlining the many ways big donors sway the opinions of lawmakers, Lewis explains how that influence affects legislation in several important industries. For instance, because of the financial power of the airlines, airplane seats are not sturdy enough to withstand the force of plane crashes and cause unnecessary deaths; the food we eat is not as safe as it should be because of the inadequate meat-inspection system; and dangerous chemicals and inadequately tested medications remain on the market because powerful companies profit from them. Issue by issue, Lewis and his coauthors demonstrate the links between moneyed interests and bad legislation. The Buying of the Congress is an expertly researched, well-written work of investigative journalism. --Jill Marquis

About the Author:


Charles Lewis is the founder and executive director of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization focusing on ethics and public service issues. He has recently been awarded the 1998 McArthur "Genius" grant.

The Center For Public Integrity is the non-profit, nonpartisan watchdog organization that produced The Buying of the President in 1996 and The Buying of the Congress in 1998.

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