Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Fear and Loathing on K street- And a lobbying reform proposal that will make us stronger.

In the wake of the Democratic electoral landslide; it straight up sucks to be a K Street Lobbying Firm

The Democrats' takeover of Congress this month has turned official Washington upside down.

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.

Ahh my friends will you never learn? Sooner or later the worm always turns. And this November it took a very Hard Left, leaving some of the largest corporations looking upon the wreckage of the fabled K Street Project and Despairing:

As a recently leaked e-mail shows:

"We woke up the day after the election to a new world," said Ken Johnson, spokesman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. "We're going to have tough days ahead of us."

A post-election e-mail to executives at the drug company GlaxoSmithKline details just how tough. "We now have fewer allies in the Senate," says the internal memo, obtained by The Washington Post. "Thus, there is greater risk over the next two years that bad amendments will be offered to pending legislation." The company's primary concerns are bills that would allow more imported drugs and would force price competition for drugs bought under Medicare.

The defeat of Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) "creates a big hole we will need to fill," the e-mail says. Sen.-elect Jon Tester (D-Mont.) "is expected to be a problem," { knock em out the box John Knock em out!>-ed} it says, and the elevation to the Senate of Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) "will strengthen his ability to challenge us."

In other words they are scared, but unfortunately not scared enough. They believe that they just have to re-learn whose rings and posteriors need kissing and it'll be business as usual for them:

The e-mail also mentions that Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) "has worked closely" with the company and that the firm's PAC had supported six Democratic senators who faced reelection. "These relationships should help us moderate proposals offered by Senate Democrats," the e-mail says.

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."

I'd like to believe that these corporate Welfare Queens are in for a bit of Shock when Sheriff Pelosi rides into town. Certainly the Top Dems are saying the right things:

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.

But as My old Latin teacher would say Acta non Verba and the acta is less encouraging:

Democratic lobbyists prospected for new clients on the very night last week that House Democrats elected their leaders on an anti-lobbyist platform. Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (Md.) and Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (S.C.) were feted on the 10th and ninth floors, respectively, at 101 Constitution Ave. NW, a premier lobbying venue at the foot of Capitol Hill. Some of the city's top firms are in that building, including the lobbying arm of Goldman Sachs, the American Council of Life Insurers, Clark Consulting Federal Policy Group and Van Scoyoc Associates.

Hoyer's political action committee financed his reception in a room routinely used for lobbying and other events, but Clyburn's was paid for by Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, a South Carolina-based law firm that lobbies extensively in Washington on health care and other issues and has offices in that building.

Dozens of lobbyists attended both functions and shuttled from one party to the other. "The elevators were jammed," said Gwen Mellor, a Democrat at the lobbying firm PodestaMattoon, who collected business cards that evening.

and some "Democratic" Lobbying firms seem awful eager to Meringue with firms that most Democrats, at least rhetorically, regard as the spawn of Satan:

Podesta said he had already signed up Wal-Mart and British Petroleum in anticipation of a Democratic victory. Now he is even busier fielding offers from other potential clients. "I've got a fairly full schedule of marketing meetings that are real," he said. "I did some right after the election, and I have four or five set up for next week."

So here's the part where my Modest proposal comes in, to:
A) stop the madness,
B)look like the good guys and indeed BE the good guys all the while
C) Maintaining our majorities and crippling the Republicans in the next

election cycle:

Basically, we need to Shutter the K. Street Porject forever; something tht's not currently on the agenda of our leaders. In fact, Steny already has something he calls "the Monday group" which he's Publicly stated he wants to turn into "the Democratic K Street Project."

That a VERY BAD idea. Yes K street can raise a TON of Cash, no question. However the strings attached to the money means letting large corporations have their way with our energy supplies, drug prices, environmental quality, etc. For Republicans this is all but their party platform in a nutshell anyway, so it's no big deal. We’d like to think we’re different however. So playing that game would be much more painful for our side, in fact, I dare say it's impossible without betraying core principles of our party and making much of our most cherished rhetoric into a lie. Not only would it be wrong, but betraying those principles would have a grave effect on our electoral fortunes as well.

The counter argument to the "Republican Culture of Corruption" I heard most often from "centrists" this year was "Yeah, but both parties are the same, they are both corrupt and both enslaved to the corporations; it amkes no difference which one I vote for." This means that there is a huge pool of disenchanted swing voter we can tap if we can consistently prove this isn't true. But that means NO playing footsie with the K-Street Crowd. The problem I've heard from Democrats is, this makes about as much sense as unilateral disarmament. They say that like it or not, this is how the game is played. Thus we'd simply be helping the Republicans by refusing to take advantage of our positions they way they did.

However there IS a way to do this, (refuse to take K. street Cash), that WON'T be helping our opponents either. It IS possible to be ethical and play hardball all at once, you see. Money is felt in its presence, but also its absence. Thus denying cash to your enemies has the same leveling effect as raising your own funds, but with far less ethical messiness and owing of favors afterwards. And that is in essence my Modest proposal:

Tell the K Street firms and their corporate patrons unequivocally that we want none of their filthy lucre. However, make it equally clear that we want the Republicans cut off completely as well. Tell them that if they give ONE DIME to our opponents, they are dead to us. No meetings, no favors, no face time with so much as the office summer intern. It needs to be made clear that the days of supporting both sides and hoping for the best after the elections are OVER. IF they want any access, any consideration at all on Capitol Hill, their bank accounts, and those of thier lobbying firms and chief executives had better be innocent of any Republican contributions.

The Dems have proven this election cycle that we can and did raise A LOT of money from channels that have nothing to do with lobbyists and corporations, since we were cut off by the K Street Project, we got creative and tapped other sources. The Republicans on the other hand are Vein-jabbing addicts of what K. Street has to offer, they are almost exclusive dependant on them for funding. Forcing them to go "cold turkey" is going to be extremely painful to them, whereas we'll barely notice it. Which means that not we be able to we outspend them; we can do it with squeaky clean funds. And THAT has the added bonus of cutting off the rallying crime of "throw the bums out" that's usually the minority party's strongest card to play.


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