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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Rent seeking? What rent seeking?

From the Federal Election Commission:

Congressional campaign receipts totaled $597.5 million from January 1 through December 31, 2009, the first calendar year of the 2009-2010 election cycle. This reflects an increase of almost 18% over 2007 (the first calendar year of the 2007-2008 election cycle), according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Congressional Democratic, Republican, and other party candidates increased their fundraising totals by raising $321.3 million, $275.9 million, and $384,000, respectively, when compared to the same one-year period in the previous election cycle.

I am always shocked that the numbers aren't higher but that is because the number of congressman has remained relatively static. However, we don't know what is going on at the state level, perhaps local lobbying is much greater than it was in the past?

Why the Democrats and Republicans generally do not fear the third party candidate? Oh, they only outraise third-party candidates by a factor of 1,555!!

One might ask why the two parties will are on pace to raise approximately $2 billion to spend on running for Congress? One would only have to consider the Reinvestment Act and the ability to tap into (to a lesser or greater extent) something close to $900 billion in EXTRA money - that is, money beyond the already pre-programmed $2 trillion in spending (even if some of that spending is non-discretionary).

I contend that if one had a time series of government spending and lobbying expenditures (however roughly the latter would be measured) that one would find that spending "causes" lobbying and vice-versa but the the spending is the more important aspect. If one is concerned about lobbyists in Washington, then get the money out of Washington. Lobbyists are only around because of the actions of the legislators not their personalities and good looks.

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