Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Lobbying Reform: K Street Style

This sudden movement to reform lobbying practices in Washington has a peculiar feel to it. First, Congressmen are walking around acting like they are in shock from all the recent scandals, because they have never happened before. They are talking about this being the most corrupt Congress in our history and proposing new restrictions on lobbying that feeds the “culture of corruption.” The problem is these Congressmen are part of the problem, and corruption has been around long before many of them were born. They are trying to convince us that this is a new and unique situation, and that there proposals will somehow prevent future scandals involving lobbyists and lawmakers. The Democrats are especially being disingenuous when they claim this problem is purely a Republican scandal, because they are in the minority. They act like the Democrats have always been in the minority, not acknowledging that their party prior to the 1994 mid-term elections, were the majority for many years, and lost that majority for the same "culture of corruption" that has now been created under Republican leadership. The Abramoff scandal has shed new light on a very old problem. Ironically, none of the new proposals by either party would have prevented the Abramoff situation from occurring, because everything he did is in fact currently illegal. All the fixes being proposed by the current corrupt lawmakers address currently legal and common practices by lobbyists and their lawmaking cohorts.

The only thing truly unique about the current corruption under Republican leadership is something called the K Street Project, dating back to 1995 and championed by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. This project rewards lobbyists with influence in drafting legislation in return for contributions to fund-raising specifically for the Republican Party and for hiring Republicans to top positions in their lobbying firms. The direct link between Wall Street corporate interests and Washington Republican lawmakers via Washington lobbyists has never been more blatant or disgustingly appalling. While this practice continues, it has never been as robust as it was under Rep. Tom DeLay’s leadership before his indictments and resignation of his leadership position in the House. Additionally, the K Street Project essentially allowed businesses to write government regulations benefiting their own industry, as was allegedly the case under Dick Cheney’s energy task force. Whatever is good for the capitalists must also be good for Democracy, right? In that case, if all corporations are trustworthy enough to regulate their own industry, and are beholden to no one except their own share holders, why even have a government? We don’t need an overarching bureaucracy watching over other narrowly interested corporate bureaucracies, right? Just ask Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff.

No comments:

Post a Comment