After presidential candidate Senator Rand Paul spoke at University of Iowa and said "Every war is not a good war to be involved in," I tried to ask a question on his amendment for a $190 billion increase to the Pentagon budget in 2016, but he turned away. Given the influence of the military industrial complex on public policy, I hope others will have the chance to raise this question at future events.
“Nobody would be in favor of seeing children warehoused by the federal government,” said former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee in response to my follow-up question about immigrant children being detained for profit.
Research by Martin Gilens finds that the views of ordinary people have had little impact on government policy, while the views of wealthy individuals and the positions of corporate lobbying groups have been reflected in a wide range of political decisions. That may be true, but we have a chance to break the pattern this year in Iowa and New Hampshire.
We've been asking all the candidates about a federal budget mandate that sets a quota for detention of immigrants, many of whom are held in for-profit prisons. So far all we've gotten in response are variations on "I'll look into it."
The disparity between public interest and private profits was emphasized April 3rd at the Open Secrets blog. According to the blog post, Management and Training Corporation is one of the big three in private corrections, along with Corrections Corporation of American and the GEO Group. Open Secrets says that these three companies spent $2 million on Congressional lobbying in 2014. Their money distorts public policy to benefit their own profits.
Barbara asked Senator Paul "What will you do to end the revolving door between congress and lobbyists?"
Senator Paul replied "We actually have rules, but they get around the rules somehow, because all money is fungible."
Listen to their exchange below.