Wednesday, December 19, 2007

How Sausage Is Made

The energy bill passed by Congress is on its way to the president for signature, and it's beginning to look like he will sign it. A brief comment on the bill with some very nice analysis was published in yesterday's Boston Globe as part of the "Short Fuse" section.

The energy bill passed by the US Senate last week could have been stronger had it not been for the votes of New Hampshire Senators John Sununu and Judd Gregg. The two voted against extending tax breaks for wind and solar, which would have been paid for by ending $13 billion in tax breaks to the oil and gas industries. Supporters of the stronger energy bill needed 60 votes to shut off debate, but got just 59. So either senator could have been a profile in courage, and the better bill would have passed. Sununu said he voted as he did to avoid a Bush veto and continued standstill on energy reform. According to the watchdog website, Sununu has received $210,000 in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry, and Gregg $84,000. Apparently neither man has much in common with constituents who want relief from Big Oil's chokehold. [Emphasis added]

Now, this kind of information is certainly not surprising, given the way campaigns are currently financed. What is interesting about this little blurb, however, is that the editorial writer did a little fact checking. The reference to "the watchdog website" was a timely reminder that information on who is contributing to candidates and how much they're giving is a matter of public record. The website (located here) is produced by The Center For Responsive Politics and is one of the most easily navigable sites of its kind. You can check on how much each industry contributes during an election cycle and to which party, or you can zero in on a particular candidate and find out just where the dollars came from. If the candidate is not fully reporting that information, that too is noted.

The site is invaluable for giving a tidy snapshot of how business is done in Washington, DC.

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