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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Sham reform?

Congress is poised to act on the lobbying scandals by passing reforms aimed at cuting down the influence of money in passing legislation. Or is it?

The proposal to hatch from the maw of a GOP sweating out the songs of Jack Abramoff has just the proper level of cynicism to be palmed off as real GOP legislation. It puts the onus on lobbyists, not members, and leaves a loophole wide enough for a Hummer full of cash to plow through by excluding campaign contributions. Here's the meat of the proposal, according to the Post:

According to lobbyists and ethics experts, even if [Speaker Dennis] Hastert's proposal is enacted, members of Congress and their staffs could still travel the world on an interest group's expense and eat steak on a lobbyist's account at the priciest restaurants in Washington.

The only requirement would be that whenever a lobbyist pays the bill, he or she must also hand the lawmaker a campaign contribution. Then the transaction would be perfectly okay.

Only this Republican Congress would suggest the problem is that members are being offered money and if those nasty people only stopped dangling lunches in their faces all would be well.

Not to mention that only a GOP leadership that has seen three of its "leaders" chased from office by scandal in 11 years (don't forget Bob Livingston in addition to Newt and Termite Tommie) would limit monetary lubrication to the campaign process but not the legislative process.

Omitting the campaign process from the reforms -- makes the whole thing a sham. Here's the key, according to the Post:
Anything that members of Congress can now do in the pursuit of money for their reelections will still be permitted in the future -- including accepting lobbyist-paid travel and in-town meals -- unless campaign finance laws are altered.
Shame on us if we buy this turkey -- even it is does comes from one of the priciest joints in D.C.

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