Sunday, January 08, 2006

Michael Barone on the history of lobbyists >link<

Dems are going to beat up Republicans in the coming months over the Abramoff scandal. They are going to continue their cries of outrage over the "K Street Project," described by the Wikipedia as,

a project by the Republican Party to pressure Washington lobbying firms to hire Republicans in top positions, and to reward loyal GOP lobbyists with access to influential officials. It was launched in 1995, by Republican strategist Grover Norquist and House majority leader Tom DeLay. It has been criticized as being part of a coziness between the GOP and large corporations which has allegedly allowed business to rewrite government regulations affecting their own industries in many cases (see Dick Cheney energy task force).

Ah...but why would Republicans want to make lobbying firms hire more Republicans? Well, take a look at Michael Barone's column published at (linked to above):

K Street came to take on some resemblance to what it is today in the 1940s, when some of Franklin D. Roosevelt's talented young aides who, he insisted, must have a "passion for anonymity" left government and set up their own law firms and lobbying shops. They were all Democrats, of course, and usually liberal Democrats, but they were happy to advise business clients and willing to use their administration and Capitol Hill contacts. It helped their business that Democrats would hold the executive branch for 20 years and would have majorities in Congress for almost all the time from 1932 to 1994 (the House for 58 of those 62 years, the Senate for 52).

So, what is the K Street Project really about?

After Republicans won majorities in Congress in 1994, Republican leaders, notably then-Majority Whip Tom DeLay and Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, launched what they called the K Street Project. The lobbying community, they argued, was made up mostly of Democrats. They steered their clients toward policies favored by Democrats, they charged, and they sent the bulk of their campaign money to Democrats--which of course made good business sense when it seemed that Democrats would run Congress forever. The purpose of the K Street Project was to make the lobbying community first bipartisan and then predominantly Republican.

What is wrong with this? Nothing...unless you are one of the tinfoil hat brigades who believe that the mere fact that a person is a Republican is a sign that they are evil, immoral, and undeserving of being heard.


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