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An Example of Why Dems Poll No Better Than Bush

May 14, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Despite frequent attempts, the Democrats’ November election campaigning can’t accurately be narrowed down to one issue. The issues varied from race to race. Three issues, however, seem undeniably overarching and common to them all: changing the course of action in Iraq, restoring fiscal responsibility, and ending the “culture of corruption.”

Progress, however slow and gradual it may be, is being made on the first two issues. The Democrats are working on sending their second attempt at Iraq legislation to the President and budget conferees are currently at work trying to comply with the new pay-as-you-go budget rules. However, the progress that was made towards ending the “culture of corruption” when the Senate passed S.1, the Ethics Reform Bill, is now in danger of being undone in the House of Representatives:

>House Democrats are suddenly balking at the tough lobbying reforms they touted to voters last fall as a reason for putting them in charge of Congress.
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>Now that they are running things, many Democrats want to keep the big campaign donations and lavish parties that lobbyists put together for them. They’re also having second thoughts about having to wait an extra year before they can become high-paid lobbyists themselves should they retire or be defeated at the polls.

But post-Congress job prospects and partying are not the main blocking concern:

>The chief stumbling block in the House centers on whether to require disclosures of a fundraising practice called bundling. It involves lobbyists soliciting and collecting campaign donations from other people and then presenting them in one package to the targeted candidate.
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>Under current law, each individual check-writer must report his or her donation. But the lobbyist-bundlers, who use the practice to ingratiate themselves to politicians, often go undetected.
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>Meaningful disclosure of bundling “is the defining issue of this bill” and must remain in the House version, said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a private group that supports greater transparency in government.
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>However, resistance from some House members is so strong that Democratic leaders are thinking of dropping the bundling language from the bill, and perhaps allowing proponents to offer it later as an amendment or separate legislation.

The Democratic leadership was up against what seemed like insurmountable odds with the first Iraq bill, but they triumphantly whipped their caucus into shape and passed it. Can the resistance from House members against bundling disclosure be so strong that the leadership actually thinks they can’t pull it together, or are they giving up prematurely, or worse, does the leadership itself want to keep bundling practices secretive?

Ed Morrissey of Captain’s Quarter’s thinks that Democrats are balking because lobbyist’s money runs in their blood:

>It’s simple: they like lobbyist money. All that blathering about Jack Abramoff was a smoke screen, and considering how Reid and other Democrats like Tom Harkin and Robert Kennedy were knee-deep in cash from Abramoff clients, a rather obnoxious smoke screen at that. The Democrats have just as much culpability in pork and lobbyist love as the Republicans — and to the extent that they are big-government expansionists, even more. Federal spending is what drives lobbyist cash to politicians, and the more government spending there is to exploit, the more money the lobbyists toss around.

The blogosphere has been abuzz with outrage and disgust from both Democrats and Republicans (i.e. DailyKos, Political Animal, Red State, Reason Magazine, SirotaBlog, etc.). Hopefully the Democratic leadership will see that people from both sides care passionately about this and if they want to do something to fix their reputation, passing tough lobbying-reform rules is a good place to start.

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