There was a change of power last week in Washington, but the bosses remain the same: the guys with money:
Democrats’ Victory Is Felt On K Street
The Democrats’ takeover of Congress this month has turned official Washington upside down.
Labor and environmental representatives, once also-rans in congressional influence, are meeting frequently with Capitol Hill’s incoming Democratic leaders. Corporations that once boasted about their Republican ties are busily hiring Democratic lobbyists. And industries worried about reprisals from the new Democrats-in-charge, especially the pharmaceutical industry, are sending out woe-is-me memos and hoping their GOP connections will protect them in the crunch.
Wow, that must be rough. All that money they’ve spent to buy influence, and now some of those beneficiaries are out of office. So what are they going to do?
But interest groups, in general, are not concerned about the changes the election has brought. “We lost many friends in this election,” said Steven C. Anderson, president of the Republican-leaning National Restaurant Association. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t make new friends, and that’s what we’ll do.”
Yep… They’re going to
spend more money make new friends.
But really, who is surprised? Washington is all about one thing: wielding power. We’ve allowed our government to wield enormous power over all aspects of life in the nation, through exceptions and loopholes in the tax code, through regulation, and through outright pork-barrel spending. That power attracts people who think they can benefit from it, and they’re willing to spend large sums of money to ensure that power will get them even greater sums in the future.
The reversal of fortunes in Washington will, as the article points out, give certain groups a quicker route to the reins of power than others. Labor and environmental groups will have an easier time getting things done than business groups, particularly in the oil or pharmaceutical industries, who the Democrats have pilloried for the last several years. But make no mistake, even those industries out of favor will get their say, because they’re speaking a language Washington can understand: green.
But don’t you worry, the Democrats have vowed to address the problem!
Despite this focus on gaining access to authority, Democratic congressional leaders have expressed disdain for their predecessors’ fealty to “special interests.” That is why they are planning an elaborate assault on lobbyists during their first week in session. Through changes in laws and in House rules, Democrats hope to ban lobbyist-provided gifts and travel to lawmakers and to create an Office of Public Integrity to oversee the disclosures that lobbyists must make about clients and fees.
Office of Public Integrity? Orwell would be proud. If you believe the Democrats are going to make meaningful change, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. As an aside, they’re planning to also address earmark reform. For more on that, I recommend heading over to QandO, where McQ highlights these changes. I’ll give you a hint… McQ is explaining that expecting lawmakers to enact meaningful reform is like asking foxes to guard the henhouse… Or asking Teddy Kennedy to guard the liquor cabinet.
Why was I apathetic about the midterm elections? Because I know for all my complaints about pork-barrel spending, neither party is going to address it. For all my complaints about ethics and the “culture of corruption”, neither party is going to change it. My current pick for president in ’08, Newt Gingrich, constantly reminds people in speeches that “real change requires real change.” Neither party is willing to give us real change, because that might interrupt the gravy train. Meet the new boss, just like the old boss.
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