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Posts Tagged ‘Lobbying’

Today’s Flickr photo

The Barkhor in Lhasa, Tibet. Flickr photo by Alex '77.

If you read one thing today . . .

This is a late entry but this gem from Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) might very well be the quote of the year. Bachus, the incoming chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, clearly gives a new meaning to the phrase “letting the fox guard the hen house.” Bachus told Mary Orndoff of the Birmingham News , it’s the banks, not Congress that should be calling the shots. This despite the fact it’s those same Wall Street bankers who drove our economy into the ground with their reckless deal making.

Bachus, in an interview Wednesday night, said he brings a “main street” perspective to the committee, as opposed to Wall Street.

“In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks,” he said.

He later clarified his comment to say that regulators should set the parameters in which banks operate but not micromanage them.

Overheard

Kevin Sessums with The Daily Beast interviewed Kevin Spacey about his new film “Casino Jack,” which is about everybody’s  favorite disgraced K Street lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Spacey on fact being stranger than fiction:

But these kinds of stories based on real events—like Recount and now Casino Jack—are filled with characters that are so larger than life and the decisions and judgments are so outrageous and the excesses even more outrageous when money and power and influence become such an integral part of the political process. All of that is so crazy that it is inherently funny. You couldn’t f*#king write this shit. It’s far more funny because it is real. We’re not making this stuff up. This shit happened.

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Today’s Flickr photo

Thousands of demonstrators marched in Cancún to ask UN negotiators to achieve a fair deal against climate change. Flickr photo by Oxfam International.

If you read one thing today . . .

Got to love the piece from the WaPo’s Dan Eggen who points out that the political circle is once again complete — the upstart GOP candidates who ran “against” Washington are now filling their staffs with corporate lobbyists from K Street. Public Citizen’s Craig Holman told Eggen that the situation benefits the former corporate clients of the new congressional staffers.

“Lobbyists for the most part are hired guns that represent corporations and other special interests that pay for them,” Holman said. “Those lobbyists now have direct access to the political agenda of these lawmakers.”

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Today’s Flickr photo

BP cleanup dumpsters in Pensacola, Fla. Flickr photo by Keo 101.

If you read one thing today . . .

The New York Times’ Paul Krugman paints a rather stark and depressing picture of American politics in the wake of the GOP’s take over of the House and its agenda to oppose all things Obama. Krugman figures Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke might have better luck tilting at windmills than gaining some Republican buy-in on measures to reduce unemployment.

Indeed, far from being willing to help Mr. Bernanke’s efforts, Republicans are trying to bully the Fed itself into giving up completely on trying to reduce unemployment.

And on matters fiscal, the G.O.P. program is to do almost exactly the opposite of what Mr. Bernanke called for. On one side, Republicans oppose just about everything that might reduce structural deficits: they demand that the Bush tax cuts be made permanent while demagoguing efforts to limit the rise in Medicare costs, which are essential to any attempts to get the budget under control. On the other, the G.O.P. opposes anything that might help sustain demand in a depressed economy — even aid to small businesses, which the party claims to love.

Right now, in particular, Republicans are blocking an extension of unemployment benefits — an action that will both cause immense hardship and drain purchasing power from an already sputtering economy. But there’s no point appealing to the better angels of their nature; America just doesn’t work that way anymore.

Overheard

Remember Bob Ney, the Ohio congressman who was brought down in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal? Ney left Washington in disgrace for a 30-month sentence in a federal prison. The National Journal’s George E. Condon Jr. caught up with Ney in, of all places, in India where he is hanging out with devotees of the Dali Lama. Ney spends his days listening to the Dali Lama’s teachings on meditation and such.

“You bring a pillow, or you can buy one,” Ney explains. “They come around with some bread and some butter tea. You sit, and you bring a hat because of the sun—because it is quite warm here. And you sit out there … on stone areas, and he does the teachings.”

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Today’s Flickr photo

Climate Change

Mensah Adrihor of Azizakpe standing on the site of his former home. Flickr photo by One.org.

If you read one thing today . . .

Not that this should surprise anyone but Bloomberg’s Drew Armstrong reports that the insurance industry gave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce $86 million in 2009 to lobby against President Obama’s health care package. If you recall that’s the same industry that Obama touted as having bought into the early version of his plan.

The insurance lobby, whose members include Minnetonka, Minnesota-based UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Philadelphia-based Cigna Corp., gave the money to the Chamber in 2009 as Democrats were increasing their criticism of the industry, according to one person who requested anonymity because laws don’t require identifying funding sources. The Chamber of Commerce received the money from the Washington-based America’s Health Insurance Plans when the industry was urging Congress to drop a plan to create a competing public insurance option.

The spending exceeded the insurer group’s entire budget from a year earlier and accounted for 40 percent of the Chamber’s $214.6 million in 2009 spending.

Overheard:

The White House’s relationship with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce? As the HuffPo’s Sam Stein puts it: It’s complicated. Despite the bloodsport of the midterm elections, the Obama administration is keeping the lines of communications open with the industry lobby group.

“People in this administration talk to [Chamber CEO Tom Donohue],” White House senior adviser David Axelrod told the Huffington Post in an interview last week. “People in the administration talk to other members of the board. We have good relations with some members; some are hostile. But what we need to do is pursue a pro-growth agenda. We may differ on some issues and they will make their political decisions in the future. But we are going to work individually with businesses wherever we can to help grow jobs and prosperity.”

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Today’s Flickr photo

Republican leaders Eric Cantor and John Boehner. Flickr photo by TalkMediaNews.

If you read one thing today  . . .

Roll Call’s Matthew Murray would like to introduce you to the men and women behind the man — the K Street crew that likes to refer to itself as “Boehner-land.” This is the group of lobbyists who are in tight with the presumptive Speaker of the House John Boehner. Most of the denziens of Boehner-land are former members of Boehner’s legislative staff.

A prodigious fundraiser, Boehner has long nurtured his relationships on K Street, where the Ohio Republican’s pro-business, small-government platform was a natural fit with large corporations and small-business groups alike . . .

Republican sources interviewed for this story also described his K Street inner circle as chummy, with conversations more about politics than policy and a healthy dash of good-natured ribbing.

“It’s loyalty. It’s friendship. It’s alumni,” a Republican source said. “He can count on us.”

Overheard:

Apparently, any chance we had at catching our breaths after these midterms elections was just wishful thinking. As the WashPo points out, there’s a whole lot of political jockeying taking place with everyone positioning themselves for 2012.

“Right now, you have empirical and anecdotal evidence that President Obama is vulnerable. What you’ve seen over the last two years is a dismantling of the coalition he used to get elected in 2008,” said GOP strategist Kevin Madden, who is an adviser to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, a probable 2012 contender.

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Today’s Flickr photo

Anti-drilling protestors in Istanbul, Turkey. Flickr photo by 350.org.

If you read one thing today . . .

NPR has an interesting flowchart of all the “independent” money pouring into this year’s midterm elections. The accompanying story breaks down this “Web of GOP influence,” showing a how a handful of corporate front groups are working together, literally out of the same suite of offices. NPR’s Peter Overby and Andrea Seabrook explain:

Their ads seem to imply the groups are homegrown. But every single one mentioned here is based within 20 minutes of Capitol Hill. Most of them, in fact, are in just two office suites.

As for their independence: It would be illegal for them to coordinate their attacks with the candidates they’re helping, or with Republican Party committees. But among themselves, they’re proud of the way they synchronize their efforts.

“If one group puts an ad on television in a certain congressional district, they let everyone else know that,” says Jonathan Collegio with American Crossroads. “This way they don’t double up on the advertising.”

Overheard:

We’re actually going to be a little sad to see Arnold Schwarzenegger step down as governor of California. We don’t agree with everything the governator does but he’s right on the money when it comes to Washington’s fealty to the oil industry. He told ABC’s Diane Sawyer that Congress is filled with a bunch of gutless wimps:

“We need to go to Washington and say, look what happened … because oil companies have spent money against you, they have threatened you, you backed off the energy policy and the environmental policy in Washington. What wimps. No guts. I mean, here, you idolize and always celebrate the great warriors. Our soldiers, our men and women who go to Iraq and Afghanistan, and they’re risking their lives to defend this country and you’re not even willing to stand up against the oil companies. … That’s disgusting. You promised the people you’d represent them. You didn’t promise the people you’d represent the oil companies and the special interests.”

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Hightower

The banking industry isn’t about to just roll over and accept new financial reforms, not when they know they have a good chance of getting new regulations watered down even further during the rule-making process. That’s why they’ve hired away nearly 150 insiders away from agencies such as the Federal Reserve, the Securities Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, writes political commentator and Public Citizen board member Jim Hightower:

For the banking powers, these insiders-turned-outsiders are well worth the big bucks, for former regulators have long, personal relationships with those in the agencies who’re filling in the blanks left by Congress. If nothing else, these newly minted lobbyists are much more likely to get their phone calls returned by their former colleagues than a stranger would.

The revolving door between K Street lobbying firms swings wildly between federal agencies, as well as Congress. Public Citizen has published several reports about the number of federal staffers and members of Congress who have cashed in and taken high-paying lobbying jobs. Want to help shut the revolving door? Sign our petition asking retiring members of Congress to take a pledge not accept a lobbying job after they leave office.

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