Thursday, March 30, 2006

Dining with Lobbyists

Politicians have the unique ability to steal money from some people and give it to others. Regular people like myself don't. I've never been asked to disclose my dealings with lobbyists. It should be no surprise to anyone that a lobbyist has never invited me to dinner. Lobbyists have never given me thousands of dollars or expensive gifts. In fact, it shouldn't even surprise you that lobbyists have never given me as much as a dollar.

Politicians are approached by lobbyists constantly. Politicians can get lobbyists what they want.

Yet in recent news, politicians are trying to pass laws that limit their relationship with lobbying groups: "The Senate lobbying bill bans accepting meals from lobbyists, require lobbyists to make quarterly reports of their contacts with lawmakers, and force lawmakers to wait two years before accepting jobs lobbying Congress, up from the current one-year moratorium."

Regarding the new bill, "Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said this increased openness would 'make a big difference' in enhancing public confidence. 'We cannot tackle the big issues facing our country if the public does not trust us to act in the public interest,' said Collins, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee."

The public just might be able to trust politicians to act in the 'public interest' if politicians renounced their ability to make some people better off at the expense of others, not by passing finance reform measures, disclosing lobbyist ties, or creating new ethics committees. Congress is certainly willing to create a few regulations here and there and give up a few of the perks of the job in order to retain this, their most important ability.

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