I spent way too much time last week poring over the numbers of the Congressional Black Caucus and its affiliated charities. But in trying to give the story more context than the Two Erics who wrote the article for the New York Times were able to muster, I did come away with two things:
More than $13 BILLION dollars were spent by lobbyists on Congress between 2004 and 2008.
Only $55 MILLION dollars were collected by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and CBC related charities between 2004 and 2008.
that lead me to two conclusions:
Number One - the Two Erics should have been carnival barkers instead of reporters or the terrible financial analysts they showed themselves to be - $55 million dollars is less than one half of one percent of all the bribe money that changed hands during the same period.
Number Two - Change will cost money. For all those folks out here in the blogosphere who marched and called and voted for Barack Obama and now think he is a traitor, a turncoat of the worst order for not instantly swapping existing programs and policies for the ones you say you want, get your checkbooks out.
Because your president cannot do it alone. Ten dollar words will lose against 10 million dollar fundraisers every day day of the week, and ten times over on Sundays, no matter how smoothly your president can speak, no matter how collegial he is, no matter how bipartisan, or no partisan - because even as he speaks to them, your Congress people have their hands out.
When Obama calls them in their offices for a private chat, guess what? They've got a big donor on the other line, waiting until they get done with the president.
How do you get the change you want? You are going to have to put enough money in the game to alter the balance of power. Its a lot like going to a strip club. You may have an earnest face, and talk a good game, but until you start shelling out those twenties, nobody is going to shake that ass for you.
Congress is just like those strippers - right now you are talking, your president is talking, and they are not listening, just like those chicks in the club can't see you if you aren't asking them to dance.
It takes more than two or three twenties to keep a stripper's attention, especially if they don't know you because you just started coming to the club. She knows that painting contractor or that lawyer who is in there once or twice a week are good for rent money, for a trip to the beach, for a new wardrobe or some jewelry - your two twenty dollar bills can't fill up her gas tank.
"Change" will cost stacks of greenbacks.
How does the new guy at the club get the strippers to give him that special treatment right away instead of hanging all over their Steady Eddie insurance agency owners and car dealers?
He can make it rain.
Just pull out a couple of stacks of twenties, bust the wrapper, and throw them in the air when a stripper is on stage.
It will cost more than a few thousand to get your Congress people to get off the laps of their Steady Eddie's and really push your agenda of change in a meaningful, fully funded way.
Unlike the Two Erics, I will tell you up front that the numbers I am about to give you are based solely on a strip club comparison, and absolutely NO regressive analysis or donor displacement theory or even a calculator was used.
"Change" - the real kind, the long term variety that will actually redirect the way or government functions, will cost $1.5 to 2 BILLION a year. Putting a few hundred million a year is the pot is a waste on time.
'Cause if you only make it rain in the strip club because its your birthday, and come back three months later, them strippers will smile at you and wave at you...
...from their Steady Eddie's laps.
It's the same wave your Congressman will give you.