Thursday, May 04, 2006

Congress Passes Token Lobbying Reform Bill

However there are some significant differences in the Senate bill.

The Senate bans gifts and meals from lobbyists and extends to two years, from the current one, the period a retiring member must wait before taking a job lobbying Congress.

It also requires professional lobbyists to disclose their activities in grassroots lobbying, where members of the public are encouraged to contact their representatives through phone calls or television ads.

There are some similarities.

Both bills require lobbyists to file reports four times a year, up from the current twice a year; ban lobbyists from accompanying members on privately sponsored trips; and require lawmakers to disclose job negotiations that may pose a conflict of interest.

The House bill sets spending limits on nonprofit political groups known as 527s _ named after the section of tax law that covers them. These groups tended to back Democrats in the 2004 presidential election, and Senate Democrats have said they will oppose any lobbying bill that includes the campaign finance measure.


The editor of the Washington Post however has recently called for the bill to be killed:

"At best the bill would marginally improve the existing arrangement of minimal disclosure, laxly enforced. Reporting by lobbyists would be quarterly instead of twice yearly and slightly more detailed (with listings of lobbyists' campaign contributions -- already available elsewhere -- along with gifts to lawmakers and contributions to their charities). Nothing would crimp lawmakers' lifestyles: Still allowed would be meals, gifts (skybox seats at sporting events, say) and cut-rate flights on corporate jets. Privately sponsored travel would be suspended, but only until just after the election.The provisions on earmarks are similarly feeble. Lawmakers who insert pet projects in spending bills would have to attach their names to them -- but that's all. If that happens, these provisions wouldn't be subject to challenge. Earmark reform that wouldn't allow a vote to stop future "Bridges to Nowhere" isn't real reform"


Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) said on the House floor last week, "I happen to believe we are losing our moral authority to lead this place".

Ya think?

The odds of our government passsing real meaningful reforms are zilch unless the American people demand it or the President pushes it through. As I mentioned before I am strongly for publicly financed campaigns. 10$ per American seems like a small price to for a squeaky clean government. You can join the crusade for real reform at the Public Campaign website.