Lobbyists and term limits

by thoughtfulconservative

Jim Burkee, a Republican candidate for Wisconsin’s fifth congressional district, writes at his MequonNOW blog, Responsibility Now, and raises some questions that need consideration,

Thus was born the K Street Project – Tom DeLay’s decade-long effort make Republicans the primary beneficiaries of lobbyist cash (Washington’s K Street is home to many of its most powerful lobbyists). In one notorious example, first reported in Washington Monthly, Tom DeLay and Haley Barbour (Chairman of the Republican National Committee) met with the CEOs of several large American corporations. DeLay made clear to the executives – mostly Republicans – that “they were expected to purge their Washington offices of Democrats and replace them with Republicans.” The offended executives promptly walked out. But Tom DeLay’s project was ultimately successful.It also killed the Republican Revolution.

In 2001, when George W. Bush cemented Republican control of Washington, there were just over 17,000 registered lobbyists in Washington. By 2007, when Republicans lost the House and Senate, there were 37,000. Since 1998, according to the Center for Public Integrity, lobbyists spent $13 billion to influence members of Congress. Lobbyist influence extended even further: Half of all retiring Members of Congress now go into lobbying, where they often collect large six and seven-figure salaries.

I can understand where Mr. Burkee is coming from. When we hear how much lobbies give to our politicians and how that money seems to influence their decisions, it’s easy to get frustrated.

But are more regulations on campaign finances required? Are term limits required? With the high cost of campaigning, aren’t we headed toward a government by elite rich people because only they can run for office?

And remember, not all lobbyists are “evil.” God help me, I’m quoting Hillary Clinton here,

“A lot of those lobbyists, whether you like it or not, represent real Americans,” the New York senator said in defense of her decision to accept campaign contributions from lobbyists. “They represent nurses, they represent social workers, yes, they represent corporations that employ a lot of people.”

Do we punish all because some are evil?

That seems to be Mr. Burkee’s cure.

I’m just not sure it’s the right one.

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