The current budget fight in Congress is offering up a perfect opportunity for industries to call in favors. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has been tapped to re-write the climate portion of the budget bill. This is the same Senator Manchin who owns between $1-5 million in coal stocks. This is the same Senator Manchin who received more campaign donations from coal, oil and natural gas industries than any other senator. Will this Senator Manchin convert the energy grid to renewable energy?
The senator’s spokesman said that Manchin is “in full compliance with Senate ethics and financial disclosure rules.” But these rules are totally insufficient in determining whether someone has a conflict of interest. As Seth Meyers said on his late night show, “How is it acceptable that the guy writing our climate policy personally profits from coal? It’s like if instead of hiding his gambling, Pete Rose called his bookie from second base.”
In preparation for his assignment, Manchin is meeting with lobbyists from the natural gas and utilities industries, of course, who will likely be telling him what they want from the senator they bought.
In a capitalist system, everything is for sale. The government “by and for the people” is no exception. The purchase of one senator can help your business, no matter how destructive, dangerous or unpopular.