October 24, 2007

Flying Junkets Through The Swamp

The new Democratic leadership in Congress promised to drain the swamp once they took control after the 2006 elections. They campaigned on the Jack Abramoff scandal and promised to reform government to keep lobbyists from cozying up to legislators. However, USA Today has discovered that the relationship has just grown cozier since January:

Despite new House travel restrictions, lawmakers accepted free trips worth nearly $1.9 million during the first eight months of this year — more than in all of 2006, records show. ...

Stung by scandals and worried about re-election, lawmakers last year drastically cut the amount of privately funded travel they took to $1.7 million, according to CQ MoneyLine, a non-partisan group.

Congress also took steps to eliminate luxury trips with lobbyists, restricting — not banning — travel paid by outside groups. The House enacted travel rules in March; similar restrictions are scheduled to take effect in the Senate next month.

But there was a spike in travel expenses in August, when lawmakers took 85 trips worth $828,808 — the highest since August 2003. August is typically a high travel month because Congress is in recess.

So much for draining the swamp. Instead of limiting lobbyist junkets, this Congress has just forced the lobbyists to spend more money. It's akin to claiming a reduction in prostitution by doubling the price and limiting the market to those with more ability to pay.

As noted several times this year on this and other blogs, the "reforms" passed by the 110th Congress are more dangerous and deceptive than doing nothing at all. They give the impression that the political class has reformed itself, when all they have done is to hide the money and influence better. Instead of reducing lobbyist influence -- the direction in which Congress was heading in 2006 -- they have protected it.


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Comments (7)

Posted by always right | October 24, 2007 2:32 PM

What kind of message were we sending in 06 again? Thanks so much, middle America.

Yeah, I know, you just don't care anymore, cause you think Dem/Repub, left/right there's no difference.

Now we get even bigger crooks in the congress than your normal garden variety crooks.

Posted by LarryD | October 24, 2007 3:18 PM

Term Limits for Congress.

Restore Impoundment.

And change the campaign finance laws, we want to know who is giving how much, not much restriction otherwise.

Posted by docjim505 | October 24, 2007 3:57 PM

Sigh... Are we really surprised? I mean, really: are we surprised?

And let me say here that I don't look at this as a partisan issue. Yes, the filthy dems are corrupt, lying, dishonest cheats... but so are the members of the GOP. Consider the Cap'n's recent post about defeating the Coburn amendment: there are LOTS of members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who will happily gin the system for every little bit they can get even while waving their fingers in the air and bloviating about "corruption" and "ethics" and "reform".

It's all so much bulls***. That sorry pack of wardheelers collectively has no more intention of giving up a single one of their perqs than Hugh Hefner has of swearing off women.

I note that this particular post hasn't garnered many comments. I think the reason is obvious: none of us are surprised. What is there to say? Indeed, what bloody good does it do to say ANYTHING? We seem burdened with a corrupt, grasping, selfish, deceitful political class that doesn't demonstrate a scintilla of competence at anything beyond feathering their own shoddy nests. I see no reason for hope that this will change. Indeed, it will simply get worse. The MSM has no interest is exposing the antics of the democrats, and even if they did, the REAL focus is on the White House. Who cares what some mere Congressman representing some podunk district in Idaho or Alabama does? So what if he slips an earmark for $500,000 into an appropriations bill? How does that compare with what the president is doing on Iraq / energy / health care / interns? Anyway, it takes work to research exactly what has gone into the budget and who put it there, and I don't think we can expect that sort of industry from the average MSM reporter. It interferes with Happy Hour.

O' course, there are lots of people who don't see earmarks as an especial problem. You know the type: the ones who defend earmarks either because they aren't THAT much money; or somehow pump money "into the economy"; or are simply the healthy result of members of Congress "serving their constituents". Then there are the hyper-partisans who would defend even the most outrageous waste of taxpayer money on the grounds that "the other side is worse". You mention William Jefferson, they immediately respond with Randy Cunningham. Members of Congress must love this sort of thing. It's like being in a course where the grades are curved: you don't have to be smart or work hard; you simply have to be a little smarter or work a little harder than the stupidest person in the class. So it is with the Congress: they don't have to work hard or be honest: they merely have to be be just a little more hard-working and honest than some of the real scumbags who are up there.

Good grief, how did we ever get saddled with such filth?

Posted by Will C. | October 24, 2007 5:53 PM

Same with campaign finance reform. All show - no go. There is no good reason a lobbyist should pay for anything at all. And there is no good reason that any foreign government, foreign company or foreign person should be allowed to lobby congress. We have a state department for that. It is pretty easy for a foreign lobbyist to stick some money in a foreign bank account for some congressperson.

Posted by Carol Herman | October 24, 2007 8:32 PM

Like you taught me, Captain Ed. Every two years the House has to go to the public. And, the whole House gets elected. Sometimes? Bums get tossed out. But nothing is ever done by "halves."

And, for what it's worth; name-calling, which is part of politics, just makes it a rough and tumble "American adventure." It's not a place for saints. Or people, chosen by God. Who get elected by "being nice."

Now, Nancy Pelosi; whom I've said is "half" the Ma and Pa Kettle Show. Who happens to drive like someone working for the Keystone Cops. Where she veers crazily around. It's still a COMEDY.

And, name-calling the product of your competitor, doesn't necessarily lead to your doing better sales. If you're Gimbles? Macy's is still calling the shots.

Worse. I have a premonition. (Which is what I call "fortune telling" ... where trying to guess at some future event ... is a very strange way of trying to guess horse races) ...

I think Nancy can go after Bush, ahead, and start an impeachment in the House.

On what?

On the fact that Bush is the Realtor for the Saud's. And, that his "motivation" for Irak, went arwy.

Will she?

Well, it won't be because she can't do it. Nancy, in a knife fight might be better at it than Tom DeLay.

What's the political situation like, ahead?

Where are the advantages.

Bush is laying eggs. (In my opinion.)

Worse, he's still hell bent to try the Annapolis "gambit." What can happen?

The Saud's. Already bribed with American taxpayer money; might not show up. And, the arabs only want territory. They're not interested in "giving up terror, ya know?"

Daniel Pipes, yesterday, wrote that Israel's in bad diplomatic shape; given what Bush and Condi are up to.

And, Bush and Condi are religous zealots. Aiming to do something they thing God's calling on them to do.

Which is why Nancy has MORE options. Not less.

What's the counter strike? America can't afford it?

Jimmy Rogers (a favorite of mine. A professor who taught economics at Columbia. And, yes, who has George Soros as a classmate, and "partner.") Has predicted six terrible months ahead for the American dollar. He's already into Yen.

Do people feel this, yet?

Only if you're stuck with a mortgage; and property you own at a high price. You can't unload.

Oh, boy. Bush is sure looking like a man, deflated. With friends (in the RoP) that leaves many Americans cold.

In Irak? They've got pressures, now, as they read our polls. (So, it ain't necessarily bad! Those arabs when things leave them little encouragement that we'll stick around to be fleeced ... might see "reason? Maybe, not.)

But Bush? Ya know? IF he gets out on January 20, 2009 ... It's possible it will feel to lots of Americans ... (should impeachment not be in the cards) ... that they're as happy to see him go ... as they were to see Jimmy Carter leaving.)

And, you don't think Hillary can't be the winnah?

Or the democrats are in bad shape because there are pubbies really, really good at name-calling?


I haven't a clue what's ahead.

But Nancy Pelosi strikes me as someone really capable of hurting republicans; even if she can't drive a fire truck, so good.

I'm more worried that politics is so divisive; its gonna be the same "splits-ville" ahead. Just enough votes to pull out a win. By the "experts" at 50/50.

Posted by jaeger51 | October 24, 2007 10:50 PM

The only thing surprising is that people would elect Democrats to clean up Congress..lol...at least the Repubs SUPPOSEDLY want smaller, cleaner government. Electing Dems to not pork barrel is like electing Repubs to make the military smaller and weaker. It's about time to select Congress critters the same way jury members are selected. Randomly, from drivers licence lists. Two year terms, no repeat terms, fixed salary and place to live in DC. And bank accounts examined before and after to make sure they can't be bribed. Only qualifications are high school degree at least, and must not be retarded, and must be a legal citizen and not a felon.

Posted by MarkD | October 25, 2007 7:45 AM

Term limit the heck out of them and pay them 100 million to serve. They pay their own staff.

We've already got the best Congress money can buy, but other people are paying them.

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