January 21, 2006

Lobby Reform

Is there some immunity that the Republicans have to being embarrassed or shamed? Immediately after Jack Abramoff's guilty plea, not only did dozens of Republican legislators dump tens of thousands of dollars of the filthy lucre they got from him as campaign contributions, but now the GOP has come out foresquare in favor of lobbying reform -- all without the slightest hint of embarrassment or shame.

The Democrats are not much better. Even though the number of Democrats tainted by the Abramoff scandal is smaller, by far, they, too, have unloaded campaign contributions from him, and the Democratic leadership has now, on the heels of the Republicans, announced its discovery of the need for lobby reform.

When I worked on Capitol Hill, in the 1970s, not only as a lobbyist, but also as chief of staff for a member of the House of Representatives, the corrupting influence of lobbying was evident to me then. The marriage of lobbying with political donations was the currency of influence and control. But it was a mouse back then, compared to the elephant it has become.

The Congress has evolved into a snake pit of greed and corruption, stuffed fat and obeisant by corporate money, carried by lobbyists with their pockets and mouths stuffed with cash and favors. It is so bad, and so far gone, that any small reforms that a Republican controlled Congress might approve will be laughable and inconsequential. They'll talk about it all year, through the November 2006 elections, and do little, if anything. And, of course, the Republican reform proposals will be clothed in more outrage and self-righteousness than the Democratic reforms, and will also be touted as more effective than the Democratic reform proposals.

This is not even an elephant in America's living room anymore, this is a mammoth, a huge immovable long-haired creature that has such weight and such control that it will not be dislodged unless we do the dislodging.

Congress is powerless to cure its addiction to money. Only the voters can do it by taking the corrupted out of Congress.

It is not going to happen any other way.

3 comments:

Newsguy said...

There were NO contributions to Democrats from Abramoff. None. Some from his clients. But Abramoff is a true-believer Republican. Raised $100K for Bush's reelection campaign. Served on Bush's transition team in the first administration. Never gave a dime to a Democrat.

Hume's Ghost said...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/c
ontent/article/2005/06/21/AR200506210
1632.html

The number of lobbysts has doubled since 2000. Some have increased their rates of pay by over 100%.

Stephen McArthur said...

Thanks for the correction, Newsguy -- I somehow knew that the only Abramaoff money to Democrats went indirectly, but should have remembered that.

Thanks Hume's Ghost -- When I worked on the Hill, lobbyists seemed ever-present, even though the numbers were much lower back then (1970s). I have friends tell me it is like a beehive now, you can't move anywhere around the Hill without encountering them in swarms.