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Enough slime for everybody

I haven't had a lot to say about the current influence-peddling scandals in Washington, since the subject seems to be getting beaten to death in the blogosphere by everyone else. It is pretty clear that Abramoff spread his clients' money generously among both parties, so you can't really paint this as a Republican scandal - when the Senate Minority Leader has a piece of the action, it's pretty clear that both parties need to go stand in the corner a while before being sent to bed without their dinners.

I did sign on to the Appeal from Center-Right Bloggers, in the somewhat faint hope that it'll serve as a shot across the bow, much like the Porkbusters effort. I'm not encouraged by all the noise about lobbyist reform, though, which seems like a Band-aid solution. The real solution is going to lie in getting all the money and power out of Washington. For years, a big part of the Republicans' message has been that the Federal government does too much; there are many agencies in D.C. doing things that should rightly be done by state agencies if they're done at all. Unfortunately, now that the GOP is in the majority, they've fallen prey to the lure of buying votes with pork, and the worst part of that is that it encourages the cynics who are always ready to yell, "See! See! They're both the same! There's no difference between the parties!"

That's a long-term and somewhat utopian objective, though. For now, I think the best we can hope for is more transparency in the appropriations process and a ban on earmarks; maybe line-item budgeting as well, since the Supremes seem disinclined to approve a line-item veto. I am also hoping that John Shadegg wins the Majority Leader spot, since he seems more serious about controlling immigration and keeping to the hard line on other issues of importance to the party base. Which is why these Congressmen were elected, after all.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 16th, 2006 06:28 pm (UTC)
Curious, and lightly related: how do you feel about publicly funded elections?

I personally would like to see the American political system get out of this "highest bidder" mentality. While I'd love to see the lobbyist system go away, there's something to be said for the fact that lobbyists do not have any power until a congressperson takes their money. I'd love to see all the special interest money sucked out of the entire process.
Jan. 16th, 2006 06:39 pm (UTC)
Curious, and lightly related: how do you feel about publicly funded elections?

I despise them - and, having run twice for the state House here in Minnesota, I've had ample opportunity to see how the system works from the inside. The system here combines the worst features of normal election funding (sucking up to PACs, unions, and wealthy contributors) with the drain on the taxpayers' wallet that public financing is at its best.

What I would like to see is complete transparency of contributions at all levels. You took $5000 from the teachers' union? Put it up on the CFB website. You took $10,000 from the Mdewakanton Sioux? On the website. As it is now, the laws are a bad joke and a prima facie violation of the First Amendment since money is clearly a form of speech. People who think elections can be bought don't understand the populist revulsion against such tactics.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )