So Damn Much Money and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Buy Used
$5.90
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Used: Very Good | Details
Sold by GrammiesAttic
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: VERY GOOD condition ex-library copy. Library plastic and stickers on exterior have been removed; only a few internal library markings remain. Dust jacket in pristine condition, binding tight, pages crisp and clean. Ships from Amazon same day as cleared payment! Amazon customer service and money back guarantee!
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

So Damn Much Money: The Triumph of Lobbying and the Corrosion of American Government Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 20, 2009


See all 7 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover, Deckle Edge
"Please retry"
$0.03 $0.01
Unknown Binding
"Please retry"
$14.95
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Book Description
The startling story of the monumental growth of lobbying in Washington, D.C., and how it undermines effective government and pollutes our politics.

A true insider, Robert G. Kaiser has monitored American politics for The Washington Post for nearly half a century. In this sometimes shocking and always riveting book, he explains how and why, over the last four decades, Washington became a dysfunctional capital. At the heart of his story is money--money made by special interests using campaign contributions and lobbyists to influence government decisions, and money demanded by congressional candidates to pay for their increasingly expensive campaigns, which can cost a staggering sum. In 1974, the average winning campaign for the Senate cost $437,000; by 2006, that number had grown to $7.92 million. The cost of winning House campaigns grew comparably: $56,500 in 1974, $1.3 million in 2006.

Politicians’ need for money and the willingness, even eagerness, of special interests and lobbyists to provide it explain much of what has gone wrong in Washington. They have created a mutually beneficial, mutually reinforcing relationship between special interests and elected representatives, and they have created a new class in Washington, wealthy lobbyists whose careers often begin in public service. Kaiser shows us how behavior by public officials that was once considered corrupt or improper became commonplace, how special interests became the principal funders of elections, and how our biggest national problems--health care, global warming, and the looming crises of Medicare and Social Security, among others--have been ignored as a result.

Kaiser illuminates this progression through the saga of Gerald S. J. Cassidy, a Jay Gatsby for modern Washington. Cassidy came to Washington in 1969 as an idealistic young lawyer determined to help feed the hungry. Over the course of thirty years, he built one of the city’s largest and most profitable lobbying firms and accumulated a personal fortune of more than $100 million. Cassidy’s story provides an unprecedented view of lobbying from within the belly of the beast.

A timely and tremendously important book that finally explains how Washington really works today, and why it works so badly.


Amazon Exclusive: An Essay by Robert G. Kaiser

Last fall the House of Representatives set off a sudden collapse of the stock market by voting against the first version of the “bailout” legislation that had been hurriedly written to try to stabilize American banks and other financial institutions. Supporters of the bailout scrambled to change the legislation in ways that would win support for it from a majority of Congressmen. In a matter of days new provisions were added: extension of an excise-tax rebate for makers of Puerto Rican rum (cost to the Treasury, $192 million); extension of a special tax break for the owners of stock car racing tracks (cost, $100 million); a tax break for makers of movies within the borders of the United States (cost over ten years, $478 million) and more. These “sweeteners”--a revealing bit of Washington jargon--did the trick. Days after rejecting the $750 billion bailout, the House approved it.

This dreary sequence was evidence of a fact that careful students of Washington’s ways had realized for some time: In the first decade of the new millennium, the government of the United States was broken. It had taken three decades to create the mess. Democrats and Republicans had collaborated in its creation, and as that story of the sweetening of the bailout bill makes clear, money was at the heart of the problem.

Those sweeteners were payoffs of a kind--spending proposals that would allow the politicians promoting them to boast of their own influence in Washington, hoping to win votes in the process. Spending on the favored projects of Senators and Congressmen had grown exponentially since Republicans took over congress in 1994 and decided that they could defend their majorities if their members could bring home a lot of bacon. Hence the explosion of the legislative provisions called “earmarks” that John McCain assailed in his presidential campaign.

But money became a dominant factor in more insidious ways. Over the 30 years, opinion polls, focus groups and television commercials became the most effective tools to win elections, and all of them were expensive. So were the consultants whom candidates hired to make their commercials, shape their campaigns, even choose the issues they would run on. To win a politician needed a lot of money. Money could elect someone to office who never addressed important matters that affect ordinary Americans’ lives. Money elects candidates who have no real philosophy of governance nor a coherent view of the world. The result has been unreal politics--candidates winning or losing office on the basis of their positions on social issues essentially unrelated to governance, for example.

Not addressing problems has become easy in a political environment distorted by money. In these three decades when money became so important in Washington, Congress lost much of its effectiveness as a governing institution. Running for reelection became more important than running the country, or keeping an eye on the exercise of executive power--the roles the Founders envisioned for the House and Senate. The quality of governance in the United States had declined palpably in these years.

(Photo © Lucian Perkins)

From Publishers Weekly

The life story of Washington lobbyist Gerald Cassidy is used to illuminate how Washington has changed over the past three decades in this bleak but informative book. Kaiser, an associate editor at the Washington Post, traces the ascendance of Cassidy, from his rough childhood in the 1950s to the incorporation of his lobbying firm, a pioneer in winning congressional earmarks for its clients, which Cassidy cofounded with Kenneth Schlossberg in 1975. The relationship between the two partners was dissolved in 1984, but Cassidy continued to build what became one of the most powerful and wealthy firms in the industry before it slipped from its vanguard status in the last few years. The author also lays out a larger history of influence peddling in federal politics, stretching back to the Civil War era, and examines the evolution of today's permanent campaigns. The author's gestures to a broader historical narrative—often in alternating chapters—sometimes distract from his nuanced examination of the rise and decline of Cassidy and Associates, but Kaiser manages to vividly elaborate the firm's history while placing it in the context of a degenerating political culture. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (January 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307266540
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307266545
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #761,436 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Raymond D. Strother on April 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
So Damn Much Money is the best book ever written about how Washington really works. The careful research and laser perfect writing could change American if enough voters read it. An Amazing book. I have ordered a dozen and expect to order more.[[ASIN:0307266540 So Damn Much Money: The Triumph of Lobbying and the Corrosion of American Government.

Raymond Strother
Democratic Political Consultant
4 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
34 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Rita Sydney VINE VOICE on February 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book tells the story of the founder of Cassidy and Associates, one of the original and one of the biggest lobby shops in DC. We learn about Mr. Cassidy's drive to be successful and rich, BIG rich.

His story is set within a narrative of what was going on in Washington from the 70's through the 2000's.

The best part of all is that this book gave me a real feel of how lobbying works, what it takes, what it does, what it pollutes. (Pollutes is my word, the author is not moralistic in tone.)

I highly recommend this book.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Marc Archer on May 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book opened my eyes to the corruption of "OUR" elected officials and who they really represent. For years I felt in my gut that our leaders do not Legislate or represent those who may have voted for them. Now I know what I kinda knew all along. Read this book for a good eye opener. WARNING: It is not for the faint at heart!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Richard Morrow on March 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author reviews the history of earmarks and lobbying with emphasis on one man and one firm. It is a disgustingly comprihempsive recounting of the way things are really run at the Congressional level and it names names. Very few of the actors comes off without lots of mud sticking to them. One of the few to come across as a decent, honest guy is Leon Panetta.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Andrew D. Oram on April 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Anyone who has followed American politics for a while knows the
outlines of the book's story, but the twists and turns have a lot to
teach us. Their are many villains in the book, but no one who had the
power to turn around the problem. Kaiser hands out blame to all sides
(Democrats and Republican, pollsters and campaign organizers,
lobbyists and aides) as even-handedly as the donors hand out money. I
don't buy every assertion Kaiser makes (for instance, did the turning
point in American politics really come in June 1976 with an idea
hatched by renowned chemist Jean Mayer?) but I respect his research.
He's also a consummate journalist who can merge human interest with
social and political observations. Luckily, we now have an opportunity
to fix politics that hasn't come since Watergate, or maybe since
Lyndon Johnson's Great Society.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
34 of 45 people found the following review helpful By P. Lester on April 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Kaiser takes a whole book to make the not-so-surprising argument that money and lobbyists dominate Washington, and that we are worse off as a nation because of it. That may be true, but if so, Kaiser's book makes a very poor case.

Kaiser picks one of the town's larger (once the largest) lobbying firms, Cassidy and Associates, to make his point. Kaiser describes how the firm basically invented the congressional earmark and proceeded to make millions of dollars from this innovation. He later describes how money has become increasingly important in the political process, and how lobbyist campaign contributions have helped corrupt that process.

The only problem with this argument is that, regardless of how true it may be, Kaiser unintentionally makes a pretty compelling case that the opposite is true -- that the supposed influence of Washington lobbyists is not really that high. First, as Kaiser points out, earmarks constitute a tiny portion of the overall federal budget. While their existence may help politicians get elected, and may grease the skids for bigger ticket items, none of this suggests a particularly influential role for the lobbyists themselves. If all you are influencing is how Congress is spending a tiny fraction of the budget (and even that is arguable, given the role appropriators and congressional leaders play in the earmarking process), your influence over policy making is pretty small.

Kaiser does go on to describe the role of the Cassidy firm in three non-earmark situations, but they only underline how little influence the firm had. The first involved convincing regulators that cranberry juice should be labeled 100% juice (snore).
Read more ›
5 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robert C. Felts on March 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An excellent in depth look at the influences of the legislative process. A good read for those who are interested in the legislative process and how their representatives act and react to lobbyists and political contributions.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Steve on June 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The book does a good job of describing the changes that have occurred in American governance over the last 40 years. It's possible, though, that using the Cassidy story as the 'backbone' of the book was a mistake. The point of view of a lobbyist is not nearly as important as the point of view of a typical Congressperson. There's a book remaining to be written that describes how a Congressperson's point of view has changed since WWII. Kaiser's book addresses this POV only indirectly.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews


Frequently Bought Together

So Damn Much Money: The Triumph of Lobbying and the Corrosion of American Government + This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral—Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking!—in America's Gilded Capital
Buy the selected items together