A while back, I invented the term ‘the de facto Congressional Retirement Plan™‘* to describe how congresscritters make sure they have a soft landing after they leave Congress:
It’s simple: it’s about life after politics. One of the dirty secrets about many, if not most, congressmen and senators is that they like Washington, D.C., rhetoric notwithstanding. They want to stay in town after they leave (or lose) office. Once you’ve tasted the Capital of the Free World, do you really want to go back to Pierre, South Dakota? (Tom Daschle comes to mind…). It’s funny how many politicians, having made a career out of bashing War-Shing-Tun, don’t…seem…to…ever…leave.
I can’t blame them: I moved to Boston, and would be very happy to stay here. Places do grow on you. The problem comes, for politicians, when they have to find a job. For an ex-politician, there aren’t that many ‘straight paths’ to getting your next job: lobbyist and corporate board member are the easiest and the most lucrative.
But if you get a reputation as someone who opposes large business interests, what chance do you have of getting either of these types of jobs? Sometimes, the quid pro quo is very crude and direct (e.g., Billy Tauzin), but the Village’s political culture makes it clear what is acceptable. One should not be ‘populist’, or, heaven forbid, liberal.
Well, it seems congress is willing to enroll the 99 percent in this plan–and by 99 percent, I mean congressional staffers:
It really is amazing that even low-level staffers are entering corporate lobbying in one form or another.
This is yet another reason why we can’t have nice things.
*When I first described this phenomenon, it got huge play in the bloggysphere. I still can’t believe people were that naive.