Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The right words, but hear that siren call?

In yet another sign of how firmly the pendulum has swung to the middle, lobbyists are on the march -- with centrists in their sights.

One of the earliest signs that life for Democrats would be different in the majority came at a post-election event sponsored by the New Democrat Coalition, the pro-business group of centrist Democrats.

Previous affairs drew at most 20 lobbyists, but the “meet-and-greet” at Nortel’s Washington office two days after Democrats swept to power drew around 60 mostly high-tech lobbyists looking to build a relationship, according to Kevin Lawlor, the spokesman for New Democrat Coalition (NDC) Chairwoman Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.).

Worried about what the Democratic Congress may mean for their business clients, to say nothing of the new limits on member access Democrats may impose as part of an ethics reform package, lobbyists have tried hard in the weeks following the election to build new links to the new majority.

One favored path has been through moderate to conservative blocs like the New Democrats and the Blue Dogs, who are a group of budget-minded conservative Democrats mostly from Southern states.

Now the cynical or pessimistic (okay, realistic) among you, may see this as a harbinger of bad things to come, as the huge Niagara Falls of political cash overwhelms yet another class of idealistic freshmen and turns them into greedy, money-grubbing captives of their special interests.

And in the long run, you're probably right; few people resist the temptation forever. But in the short run, there is still hope, because the Democrats keep promising concrete things that they can be judged on.

emocrats taking control of Congress next month say they will try to ban for the remainder of fiscal 2007 the special-interest "pork" projects that got Republicans in so much trouble with voters in the November elections.

"We will place a moratorium on all earmarks until a reformed process is put in place," the incoming Democratic chairmen of the Senate and House appropriations panels, Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia and Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin, said late on Monday.

That won't eliminate the power of special interests, of course, but it would short-circuit one of the most egregious ways they extract direct favors.

The article was worthwhile simply for the spectacle of seeing Byrd, an earmark king, denouncing earmarks. You could almost see Nancy Pelosi behind him, twisting his arm until he could touch his own shoulder blade with the flat of his palm.

But having said it, they'll be hard-pressed to back off on it. And no one will be impressed if they try to weasel out of it by saying they meant no new earmarks -- while allowing all the old ones to slip comfortably through.

Wait and see.... Wait and see....

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Placing a moratorium on the earmarks doesn't mean the new Democrat majority won't spend. They do plan to spend on their pet projects and the things they've promised. If they said they were putting a moratorium on all discretionary spending, I'd be impressed. But that isn't the case.


12/13/2006 6:30 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

But if they spend, they'll have to do it in the open, and get it past both Bush and the GOP minority. Plus if they follow through on their vows and implement PAYGO, they won't be able to spend like drunken fools, as the Republicans did.

A moratorium on discretionary spending wouldn't make sense, since much of the government is funded by "discretionary" spending.

12/13/2006 8:29 PM  

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