In 1998, we raised $8.5 million to be elected the seventh time to the U.S. Senate. This requires raising $27,000 a week, every week, for six years.

Now it would take $35,000 every week.

Sen. Lindsey Graham has already raised $7 million.

This need of money in campaigns has put the lobbyists in charge of government.

We used to wheel and deal as senators, fixing the vote. Now the lobbyists wheel and deal, fix the vote long before the roll is called. In fact, they tell the Senate majority leader or House Speaker when to call the roll.

Wall Street, the big banks and Corporate America are the biggest contributors to the president and Congress (Republicans and Democrats). This puts them in charge of Congress.

They want to make sure the China profits keep flowing and oppose any action that would annoy China. They don’t want the U.S. to compete in globalization. They contribute because they want to make sure elected officials do nothing about China’s devaluation of its currency, do nothing about enforcing trade laws against China’s predatory practices, do nothing to limit our deficit in the balance of trade, and do nothing about creating a value-added tax (VAT), which would make the U.S. competitive in globalization.

One hundred and fifty countries use a VAT to compete in globalization. The tax is rebated on exports.

Our corporate tax is not rebated. An entrepreneur in the U.S. has to pay the 35 percent corporate tax, and is levied a 17 percent VAT when his exports reach China. A competitor, producing the same product in China, imports the product tax free to the United States and puts the entrepreneur out of business. Not having a VAT is killing manufacturing in the U.S.

Replacing the 35 percent corporate Tax with a 7 percent VAT would permit Congress to balance the budget in two years rather than with these 10-year ear plans that never balance. Last year’s corporate tax produced revenues of $236.8 billion. A 7 percent VAT for last year would have produced $922 billion.

Many members of Congress say they are for tax cuts, tax reform and cutting the size of government. This tax cut does all these things, but Wall Street, the big banks and Corporate America oppose it, so Congress does nothing.

Congress could retake control of the government from the lobbyists by limiting spending in elections.

Limiting spending limits the fundraising, limits the partisanship caused by raising money against each other and limits the lobbyists’ control of Congress.

Congress limited spending in elections in 1973, and President Richard Nixon signed it into law. Strom Thurmond and I were limited to so much per registered voter, or $687,000.

The Supreme Court in Buckley vs. Valeo equated spending with speech and set the law aside.

We know that paying a consultant or pollster in the campaign is not speech. The only way to correct this is a constitutional amendment: “The Congress is empowered to limit or control spending in federal elections.” The Governor’s Conference called and wanted the states included. No doubt the states would ratify such an amendment.

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., has introduced such an amendment in the Senate with a dozen co-sponsors, but no vote has been taken on the amendment for three years.

Members of the Senate don’t want to have to vote to limit their advantage. They are ensconced amongst 12,000 lobbyists and can fundraise morning, noon and night for six years. Wall Street, the big banks and Corporate America oppose this constitutional amendment because it limits their control.

Economists blame the Great Recession for the languishing economy. The recession has been over for four years. The economy languishes because of the loss of jobs from offshoring jobs; from the horrendous trade deficits; from the failure of the president and Congress to make it attractive for Corporate America to invest in America.

The president could make it attractive by protecting U.S. production from predatory practices. The Congress could make it attractive by replacing the Corporate Tax with a VAT.

This would immediately jumpstart the economy by releasing $2 trillion in offshore profits for Corporate America to repatriate tax free and invest and create millions of jobs.

But the president and Congress are paid to do nothing.

They enjoy gridlock.

Ernest F. “Fritz” Hollings, a Democrat, served as S.C. governor from 1959-63 and in the U.S. Senate from 1966-2005.