Politics

Swamp Stays Full as Pols Take Care of Themselves Before Taxpayers

Iowa Rep. Rod Blum wants to limit terms, cut congressional pay for unbalanced budgets, slash members' perks, and protect whistleblowers

Draining the swamp is made doubly hard by something Iowa Republican Rep. Rod Blum (R-Iowa) says he sees every day in Washington, D.C. — the needs of everyday Americans being pushed aside to benefit special interests and career politicians and bureaucrats.

“I don’t know if I can identify the place where it is the worst,” Blum recently told LifeZette. “It’s Washington, D.C., it’s elected career politicians in the House and Senate. It’s career bureaucrats in this town who burrow themselves into the agencies they work in. Many of them were political appointees, and then they end up making a career in the agency that they’re in.”

Blum says the problem is on both sides of the aisle because the political culture and power structure encourages lawmakers to put themselves and their party ahead of everything else.

“The people that come here are probably, for the most part, good people, but the system is what’s messed up,” Blum said. “I know this will sound obvious, but it’s a system that’s driven 100 percent, day and night, by politics. Both parties seem to put politics first and the American people second.”

Like President Donald Trump, who made draining the swamp a key plank in his 2016 platform, Blum came from the corporate world, serving as president of one software company and the owner of another before being elected in 2014.

He has called out the political culture and introduced bills to limit the perks and privileges lawmakers enjoy, believing the political culture itself is problematic because it puts the thirst for power ahead of everyday Americans.

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Related: The Political Money That Keeps the Washington Swamp Full

He sees the resistance — the loosely affiliated movement formed by the Left in response to Trump’s election to oppose everything he does — as obstructionist behavior that is part of the problem in the nation’s capital.

“They are resisting every single thing that the Republicans put forward no matter what it is,” Blum said. “And they think they’re going to be rewarded by the voters for being obstructionist. That’s what I mean by [how] everything is driven by politics in this town, and what’s going to help us get into power 24 months from now. That drives everything.”

Related: Swamp Wins! GOPers, Dems Unite to Kill Balanced Budget

The political culture drives politicians, lobbyists and bureaucrats to distort the truth or tell outright lies. It also encourages the influence of political money, with campaigns getting more expensive and special interests pumping billions of dollars into both parties, all in the name of accumulating power and assuring a party majority.

“Everything is politics, what’s going to help us get into power,” Blum said. “I often say that I feel like I am in junior high school again. Some of the stuff that goes on around here is sophomoric at best. And once again, coming from the private sector, we work in the private sector to make our products better.

“We work in the private sector to take care of our clients. We work in the private sector to deliver the best value for our clients. Here, it’s about destroying lives, it’s about destroying political careers. It’s open season of people’s personal lives, on their families, on whatever it may be.”

Blum believes another obstacle to draining the swamp is the power of leaders like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. They control what bills are considered and voted on, plus they decide who in their respective partisan caucuses are rewarded — or punished —through committee assignments.

“The second you want something in Washington, D.C., they got you,” Blum said. “Because then you have to get on the team and vote the way they want you to vote. No matter what it is here, the second you say you want that, then they got you. By ‘they,’ I mean the leadership in both parties. I think the leadership in both parties is probably controlled by the biggest special interests in their party. And that’s the swamp.”

Blum believes term limits could help because the desire to retain power drives much current decision-making. He established a bipartisan caucus alongside Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) to advocate for term limits on members like themselves.

“The incentives here are perverse,” Blum said. “The thirst for power, the thirst to get one’s party in the majority, the thirst to raise as much money [as] it takes to win the next election has led to an arms race of campaign spending. I don’t know where it ends or how it ends, but we need a way to get all this money out of politics.

“I think a person winning re-election here is first and foremost in [a] member’s mind, secondly is their party being the majority power so they can have those committee chairmanships, and thirdly, probably down the list, let’s do what’s right for the American people, and of course that’s up for debate, what’s right for the American people.”

Blum has also sought to drain the swamp by introducing four bills earlier this year to force lawmakers to balance the budget by tying it to their own paychecks, prohibit former members from lobbying Congress, limit car leases and first-class air travel for members, and protect whistleblowers.

Connor Wolf covers Congress and national politics and can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter.

(photo credit, homepage and article: YouTube)

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