Let’s get something straight here…
Lobbyists are a fact of life, and in one form or another, they are not going away.
I agree with Sen. Clinton that there are good lobbyists out there, doing the work of the people.
But can we please cut the crap about the money not influencing anything?
Apparently, the supposed "front runner" (It’s August, folks; five months before a vote has even been cast — there are no front runners) for the Democratic nomination seems to be infected with that disease that all politicians get when they’ve been in Washington too long. Would someone please explain what relation giving money and gifts has with lobbying for a good cause? Why do these people have to take money from ANYONE for ANY reason, while serving in office?
Barack Obama and John Edwards separately castigated Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton for defending lobbyists and portrayed her as the consummate Washington insider with special interest ties.
"If you don’t think lobbyists have too much influence in Washington, then I believe you’ve probably been in Washington too long," Obama said Monday. Added Edwards in an Associated Press interview: "Democratic candidates, and for that matter all candidates, should just say we’re not taking these peoples’ money anymore because it’s the way to take their power away from them, and it’s the way to bring about the change that this country needs."
If Clinton wins the nomination, of course, I’ll vote for her, but I simply cannot cast my primary vote for someone who doesn’t understand that one of the biggest problems in Washington these days is the immense corruption inside the Beltway, and that lobbyist money is a major factor when it comes to government inaction on the most important issues of our time.
I simply don’t understand where all of this comes from. Has our entire society become so corrupt that it’s now okay to say, "Well, I took lots of their money, but I didn’t do what they wanted me to. It didn’t influence my vote at all."
Doesn’t anyone see the inherent corruption in the above statement? (No, it’s not an actual quote, wingnuts; it’s a hypothetical demonstrating the prevailing attitude.)
If you take money from lobbyists, and you do what they ask, that’s the very definition of corrupt. Even if you were going to vote a certain way without the money or gift, it still gives the appearance of corruption.
But isn’t it also corrupt to take money from someone who is using the money to attempt to influence your vote, and then you don’t vote that way? Isn’t that essentially taking money under false pretenses?
Now, there is some legitimate lobbying. Sometimes, a lobbyist will take a Congressperson to a specific location, to discuss an important matter, and to show the Congressperson the problem they want solved. That’s legitimate. But to take tickets to anything, or dinner at a fancy restaurant, or cash donations, or trips that are not absolutely directly related to official business should not only be discouraged, it should be illegal. No corporate lobbyist should ever have an advantage over a group advocating for average citizens, just because they are able to spread the wealth over a greater area. And that includes a perceived advantage.
No one is saying that it should be illegal to lobby for a cause, even a commercial cause. But lobbyists are a problem, and it’s a problem that’s getting worse. They are paid more and more money, and they are buying influence all over Washington these days, and they are doing so because it WORKS, folks. When Sen. Clinton said that the money doesn’t influence her votes, she’s being disingenuous. If she’s taking money from lobbyists, it has to be influencing her; hell; the fact that she accepts money from a lobbyist buys that lobbyist additional legitimacy in the eyes of others, if nothing else. And even if it doesn’t directly influence her vote, it gives the appearance that lobbyists influence her vote.
Put it this way; she has been taking money from the Health Insurance industry for years, and in her six-plus years in the Senate, she has never brought up a bill for national universal health care, which used to be a pet project of hers, once upon a time. is there a corollary? Possibly not. It’s possible that she’s simply waiting for the right time to bring it up. But by taking the money, she has created a perception, accurate or not, that the health insurance industry is paying her to not bring up national health care again. And that perception doesn’t just affect her actions in Congress. How many other Congresspeople are hesitant about bringing up national health care because the lobbyists have "gotten to" Sen. Clinton.
Sen. Clinton is absolutely wrong on this, and Sens. Edwards and Obama are absolutely correct. if she thinks her acceptance of lobbying money has no effect on the process just because it hasn’t affected her vote, she is, to coin a phrase, naive…