One neat little benefit of being a politician who votes to bail out companies is that those companies will later repay you by contributing to your re-election. The most pertinent example is the auto-company bailouts.
A recent report from OpenSecrets.org notes that General Motors (probably more appropriately named “Government Motors”) has since given campaign contributions from its political action committee to several lawmakers with influential positions:
Recipients in the House included Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee; Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), vice chairman of the Transportation Committee, and Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.). chairwoman of the Rules Committee. In the Senate, both Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Finance Committee, and Lisa Murkowski, the ranking Republican of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, accepted $1,000 donations. The PAC also targeted several lawmakers that hail from Michigan, home of the (formerly?) ailing American auto industry, including Democrats John Dingell and Gary Peters.
One problem with this scenario is that taxpayers still own a large part of the company:
Though it’s now turning a profit, the government still owns 60 percent of GM, as well as a significant stake in Chrysler, GM’s competitor.
This essentially amounts to politicians funneling taxpayer money to a company which then turns around and gives it back to the politicians in the form of campaign financing. Taxpayers are essentially bank-rolling the political campaigns of the same politicians who took their money and doled it out to failing auto companies.
This twisted shifting of money looks something like this:
Notice the money never makes its way back to the taxpayers. Why do we put up with this again?