(Satire) According to our inside sources a new Bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Prozac will be launched before the end of the 112th Congress. The primary purpose of the Prozac Caucus will be to raise awareness and advocate for this ‘miracle drug’ aka ‘happiness pill,’ on the grounds of combating homegrown terrorism and domestic violence, lowering the national divorce rate, and increasing the level of general job satisfaction among the restless American workforce. “Increasing the level of general satisfaction and happiness, while decreasing the effects of violence and despair inducing factors such as anxiety and depression, are the major keys to achieving long term national security, family unity, and work force stability. With Prozac we believe we can achieve all that and more,” said a congressional aide who wished to remain anonymous. The caucus will have an interactive website with easy-to-print promotional materials and a password protected section for physicians titled ‘Patriotic Physicians for a Secure America.’
Let’s start with what is a congressional caucus, or at least what it is supposed to be, in theory that is. A congressional caucus is a coalition of House and Senate members who meet to discuss specific legislative priorities and policy issues. Caucuses ‘supposedly’ allow members to discuss issues to determine their positions and make sure their votes are informed. They can also give ‘advocates’ a chance for a group of legislators to champion their cause on the Hill. You may go ahead and change ‘advocates’ to ‘lobby and you’ll be even more on target.
When we look at the long list of these caucuses, a list that initially had only a few but seems to lately have taken off rapidly, we see some caucuses that seem rather ‘ordinary and expected;’ for example, Children’s Environmental Health Caucus or Congressional Dairy Farmers Caucus. We also see some ‘amusing’ ones, such as Congressional Bike Caucus, Congressional Soccer Caucus, and Congressional Boating Caucus.
You follow me so far? Okay, then there are more than a few caucuses that are ‘confusing:’ Democratic Israel Working Group, Congressional Israel Allies Caucus, Congressional Friends of Jordan Caucus, and other ones for Turkey, Jordan, etc. Why do I say ‘confusing’? Well, in the above paragraph we outlined the caucus definition, which includes ‘giving advocates, aka lobbies, a chance to influence, aka lobby, their cause through the members of their caucus. In this case, the advocates, aka lobbies, are foreign, and this means ‘direct foreign influence,’ and that in turn would make the representatives in these caucuses who then influence and lobby the rest of the Congress ‘foreign agents.’ Think of it as two-tiered foreign lobbies: First, the registered foreign lobby influencing the target caucus, then, the caucus acting as a lobby for that foreign lobby to influence and lobby the rest of the Congress.
Finally, there are some ‘just plain eyebrow-raising’ caucuses that have been popping up and gaining momentum recently. Probably you haven’t heard of them. Please don’t kick yourself for not knowing. Save that kick, or cancellation of subscription, for the news media you’ve been following. Okay, back to ‘eyebrow-raising’ caucuses. Here is one example: The Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Caucus, which has recently changed its name to the Unmanned Systems Caucus. Thanks to Corey Pein’s WarisBusiness site I was made aware of this scandalous caucus:
The motivation for members to join the UAV Caucus (not to be confused with the A/V Club) may be national security or job creation, but the caucus is also where members of Congress directly show their allegiance to an industry that donated generously to their war chests.
How much? In the 2010 election cycle alone, UAV-related political-action committees donate more than $1.7 million to the Caucus’ 42 members.
In February 2009, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), at the time the ranking Republican on House Armed Services, co-founded the UAV Caucus. He began to hold meetings on the future of the military systems and by the end of the year he had launched a website–on House servers–for the caucus, which was ostensibly designed to provide news on UAVs and connect members of Congress with the industry.
…caucus has served as the Congressional booster for the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. The UAVSI “Advocacy” page gives am overview of all the ways its members can maximize that relationship;In addition to whatever legislation and appropriations, caucus support has manifested in the opportunity to give committee testimony, visits from Congressmen, keynote speeches, meetings with legislators on “AUVSI DAY,” roundtables, facility tours, but perhaps most notably, a tech fair sponsored by McKeon’s office at the Rayburn House…
We filtered the 200 AUVSI corporate members to only the “Diamond” and “Platinum” members, then further narrowed the list to only those with corporate PACs. A stark picture emerged: Altogether, these PACs accounted for $1,788,800 in contributions in the 2010 to the members of the caucus. This figure doesn’t include members who weren’t reelected, such as AUV Caucus co-founder Rep. Allan Mollahan (D-WV), who was defeated in last year’s Democratic primary. Two of the newest members of the caucus—Rick Berg (R-ND) and Vicky Hartzler (R-MO)—received nothing from these PACs, probably because their incumbent opponents were the defense industry’s favorites.
You can read the rest of Pein’s revelatory piece here, but I think you all get the point on ‘eyebrow-raising’ caucuses. I guess it wasn’t a really long leap from the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Caucus to the Bipartisan Caucus for Prozac!
The expected chairman of the upcoming caucus who would neither deny nor confirm the formation of the Caucus for Prozac had the following to say (of course on the condition of anonymity):
“Listen, I’ve always taken pride in being a constitutionalist, and the formation of this caucus is further proof…Somewhere in the Constitution it says people should pursue happiness and their government should help them go get it. See? This is exactly what this caucus is about: help and encourage people to get happiness!”
The congressman may have been a bit under the ‘happiness pill’ influence. He must have meant the Declaration of Independence; not the ‘Constitution,’ and, the passage he must have been thinking of was probably this: ‘All men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…’Oh well, at least they are taking the pill they are anxious to sell others.
The expected co-chairman from the opposite party also commented off the record:
“As a nation we are losing our edge, our competitiveness, in so many areas; manufacturing, R & D, services…even in the Global Happiness Index!! We are America. We must be number one. It is time to declare war on unhappiness! With this caucus we are doing just that: declaring war on unhappiness, and getting competitive on the happiness front. If unhappiness is the enemy, this pill is the weapon to kill it…to quash the damn thing. With this caucus we’ll get Americans to swallow this pill… swallow it big time, and in no time they will rank number one again…at least in the happiness department…”
The expected cochairman was talking about the annual World Happiness Index report on countries. Judging from his hawkish tone and aggressive language, he was either not taking the pill, or, exhibiting one of the known adverse reactions to it. The follow up call to check on this was not returned.
With the new trend taking hold in the formation of congressional caucuses, some refer to them as neo-caucuses, other members are frantically working to stake out new territories and mark their turf. There are many empty caucus spots to grab: The Caucus for McDonalds, The Caucus for the F-35, The Caucus for JP Morgan, The Caucus for Pepsi Cola …So many caucuses to form, so little time!