More on that whole “First 100 Hours” dillio. Looks like the lobbying reforms are a bit weak, actually:
House Democrats Prepare To Tighten Lobbyist Rules – washingtonpost.com
But a number of loopholes in the proposal have led ethics watchdogs to warn Democrats that their work will be far from done, even if the new rules are secured today. Under the changes, lobbying groups would be able to finance lawmakers’ travel as long as those funds were channeled through a nonprofit foundation. And almost all banned perks would still be permitted if given in the context of a campaign fundraiser.
Well, golly. That seems a lot less reformed than I’d hoped for. Note also that the Congress decided to let bygones be bygones in the Foley Scandal, not punishing any of those who failed to take action against the man till it was a public spectacle. I guess you could call that reconciliation, but I call it a golden parachute that Republicans didn’t deserve.
The article does make mention further down the page that Campaign Finance laws and House Rules are not the same thing. Still, unless the Dems are willing to throw in a Campaign Finance law that covers these two gigantic loopholes, I don’t see how they’re making things better, on this level at least.
Compare this to the rosier assessment of Carl Wagner, D.C. political strategist, in his interview with Harpers:
Six Questions for Carl Wagner (Harpers.org)
5. And what about ethics? The Democrats have promised reform but the lobbying bill they’re pushing seems to have some big loopholes.
It’s encouraging that Fred Wertheimer, the former head of Common Cause, who’s usually pretty tough on these issues, has said that the Democrats are off to a good start. There’s no question that political reform is key. When a competitive Senate race costs $20 million and a competitive House race costs $2 million, you’re going to have a very short line of potential candidates at the door.
But, there’s no question that the reform package seems to address a great many House Rules that have plagued Democrats in the last six years. You can bet our fair lady, Louise Slaughter, had a pile to do with this list of reforms, so don’t go thinking your vote doesn’t count. Many of the issues addressed in this package are things that Louise has been complaining about when no one else did. Some of the better points include:
- No more Congressmen cruising around in corporate jets.
- No more holding votes open till kingdom come to let you twist arms. The vote opens, the vote closes, you get what you get.
- Negotiations between the House and Senate would require at least the notification of the members of both chambers and will be held in the public eye. No more sneaking in the deal-killers last-minute when no one can object.
- Reinstating the “Pay as you go” rule of budgetary constraint. If you want to cut taxes, you have to show where you’re going to make up the lost revenue.
- One of my personal favourites, “Earmarks,” those home-district pet projects and payoffs, have to be publicly spelled out with the names of the Congressmen that approved of it.
It’s amazing to me that, despite the seemingly unarguable good taste of this bill, one dick actually voted against it. Dan Burton, Republican of Indiana. Man, is his face red, or what?
Or maybe he knows something the rest of us don’t and he’ll be telling us all “I told you so,” in a few years. Maybe. . . .
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