Back in 2009, I described the Congressional Retirement Plan™:
I think he’s right in that it’s not about the campaign contributions. If their reluctance to support a public option were based solely on the electoral calculus of campaign donations versus popular support–that is, votes–the votes win hands down. Any Democratic senator in a swing state who needs independent and Republican votes can’t afford to piss off the ~50% of Republicans and ~70% of independents who support a public option. To the extent that an Evan Bayh is supported by independents and Republicans, does he really think that these crossover voters are the ones who oppose a public option? (Actually, Bayh just might think so, since he’s dumber than a fucking sack of hammers). So, if this is simple electoral politics, the obvious move is to screw your donors (of course, we are talking about ‘new Democrats’ who are the most inept politicians in recorded history, so who knows?).
So, Mad Biologist, how is this about money? 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.
Speaking of Paul Krugman (boldface mine):
Finally, for some significant number of Republicans we may be seeing what I’d call the “K Street end game.” Suppose you’re a GOP Congresscritter representing an only moderately R district, say in NY or California – and you see growing evidence of a huge Democratic wave next year, with election results so far suggesting something like a 15 point swing. What do you do?
Well, you could say, “Gee, I’d better buck the party line and show my independence to win over swing voters.” But how likely is that to work? How many people even know how their representative votes?
Or you could say, “Well, I guess I’ll be looking for a lobbying job/ think tank position/commentator role on Fox News in 2019” – in which case your mission in what remains of your Congressional career is to keep donors and the party machine happy, never mind the voters.
Nothing new here. Same as it ever was.