Sunday, February 19, 2006

Republicans Won't Clean Up Corruption

Today's Washington Post describes the slow pace that lobbying reform has taken just weeks after the Abramoff plea.
A month ago, Republican leaders in Congress called legislation on the topic their first priority, and promised quick action on a measure that would alter the rules governing the interaction between lawmakers and lobbyists.
Well, not really "quick action".

Their progress was slowed by the election two weeks ago of a new majority leader, Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who has a different notion of what "reform" should entail and who challenged parts of Hastert's plan.

In mid-January, Hastert proposed broad new restrictions on lobbying, including a ban on privately funded travel for lawmakers and tight limits on meals and other gifts.

And, not really "action".

But Boehner and many rank-and-file Republicans objected to his recommendations and have said they would prefer beefing up disclosure of lobbyists' activities rather than imposing new restrictions.

As a result, House Republicans are still talking about where to begin. "The speaker wants to gain a consensus on this legislation, introduce it . . . and complete it by the end of March so he can get onto other business," said Ronald D. Bonjean Jr., Hastert's spokesman.

Republicans don't want to change the lobbying rules. They like the money, they like the private jets, fancy meal and lavish trips. They're going to make some small changes, but the lobbyist will keep doing business as usual and Republican members of congress will keep hauling in big campaign contributions and living the high life for doing the lobbyist work instead of the public's.

If Americans want lobbyist reform, they are going to have to toss out the corrupt Republican and demand that their replacements do the right thing. After all we can toss them out, too.