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Republican Reform? Yeah, Right

January 18th, 2006

House Speaker Hastert (R) submitted a proposal which will presumably “clean up” the whole lobbying ethics scandal. The proposal, however, is worse than fake, it may even worsen the problem. First of all, the proposal does not touch campaign finance. Second, while the proposal pretends to stop lobbyists from giving congresspeople gifts, it in fact appears to make it more likely that gifts and cash bribes will prevail:

According to lobbyists and ethics experts, even if 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.

So in other words, instead of just getting free trips and dinners, the lobbyists would have to add campaign contributions at the same time. There would be more bribery and corruption under Hastert’s proposal than otherwise. That’s Republican “reform” for you. Remember a few years back when Democrats championed a campaign finance reform law that had so much teeth that it hurt them more than Republicans? Can you imagine the Republicans doing anything even remotely close to that? Of course not.

In fact, Hastert tried to deny that he or other Republicans had ever heard of Jack Abramoff:

Well, you know, a year ago most people around Congress couldn’t tell you who Jack Abramoff was and didn’t know who his associates were or what connections there are.

One of the biggest, most powerful lobbyists in D.C., with strong ties to Republican leadership… and “most people around Congress” had never heard of him? Well, maybe if you took all the Democrats and the few Republicans who weren’t involved with him, then I guess you’d have “most people around Congress.” But even then, I doubt it.

Then there’s the news that Bush’s Medicare debacle is even more corrupt than thought. Aside from the administration lying about the costs and the usual corruption like preventing the government from negotiation down prices from drug companies, it turns out that Bush’s plan actually excludes many generic drugs from coverage–forcing Medicare to pay for far costlier drugs, and eliminating useful and cheap drug treatments.

This is the thing about the Republicans being in full control of the government: it’s like a corruption salad bar. On any given day, there are so many stories on how they’ve committed yet another act of fraud, greed, sleaze, or corruption in general.

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