Campaign Money and the House Bailout Vote

The late Jesse Unruh, longtime speaker of the California Assembly, was a giant of a man, both in accomplishment and girth. But he will be forever remembered for having said that “Money is the mother’s milk of politics”.

Never truer words were said. We got a good glimpse of that in the recent vote on the Paulson-Pelosi Wall Street bailout. A quick survey conducted by the Berkeley, California based Maplight.Org showed that members of Congress in both parties who supported the bailout received 54% more money from the financial service industry than those who voted against it.

The differential among Democrats was even wider --- those who backed the bailout received almost twice as much from Wall Street than those who opposed the measure. A regional analysis conducted by the New York Times showed another interesting pattern, with opposition to the measure strongest in the heartland states, Texas and other places where the housing bubble was less inflated.

Clearly constituents in these areas reached some of their representatives with complaints. As for those who went the other way, well, somewhere in heaven, California’s “Big Daddy” is wearing a sly, knowing smile.