January 13, 2006

The Bear Has a Bite!

Hatched by Dafydd

I heartily second this plea from N.Z. Bear for a leadership that is not tainted by Abramoff and some meaningful rule changes to reduce the power of lobbyists. I personally would like to see:

  • A ban on former members of Congress lobbying on the House floor
  • A ban on earmarks; failing a ban, I like a proposal that some House member had that was discussed on Brit Hume yesterday: treat each earmark as an amendment that must be voted upon by the full House before it can be inserted into a bill (as opposed to the current system, where it can be inserted by the joint conference committee without other members being informed)
  • Full reporting on the Web of every trip, every gift, every meal, everything received by every Congressman; I want to be able to click on, say, Adam Schiff's name and see a list, sorted by monetary value, of all the squeeze he has collected since the last election

I don't want to see a total ban on trips or gifts -- so long as they're public and they cannot result in an earmark unless a majority of the full House goes on record supporting it.

The Democrats are in such disarray that if the GOP moves swiftly, they will probably have a sweeping reform bill circulating through the House gathering co-sponsors before the Democratic caucus can even agree whether to expel all Republicans or just take away their voting rights.

But in the meanwhile, at the very least, all representatives and senators who have accepted anything from Jack Abramoff or Michael Scanlon should come clean, reveal all, and announce what they plan to do about it: return it, donate it to charity, or keep it.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 13, 2006, at the time of 6:19 PM

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Comments

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

Com'on...McCain's bill has fell falt on it face, and no one is talking about the money that he gets from the exempt Indians.

Democrats are also involved with Abranoff and Indians. If i recall correctly, some 40 of 45 Democrats are involved, and that 45th includes a so-called "Indy".

In my humble opinion, Americans need to send the Republican Party a serious *WARNING* by tossing the Democrat Party in a septic tank...remote or local.

The 'Top 5' Abranoff connections seem to be limited to just 5 right now, and Dem Reid plus another Dem is in that group...so to speak of two out of five.

McCain seems to skate on all of this, so it can't be that bad. If McCain ain't involved (even though he gets more from Indians than anyone), then Reid needs to be checked out.

Just my 2-cents,

Karmi

The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 13, 2006 7:22 PM

The following hissed in response by: RBMN

From:
There's Always a Way: Exemptions From Ethics Rules Allow Lawmakers to Accept Almost Anything
By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum
Washington Post, August 4, 2005
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/03/AR2005080301987_2.html

excerpt:

During the past five years, members of Congress have received $18.3 million worth of travel at the expense of private organizations, according to PoliticalMoneyLine, a nonpartisan research service. That includes 628 lawmakers who made 6,242 trips, 57 percent of which were taken by Democrats.

The most popular destinations were vacation spots, according to a study by the Medill News Service and American Public Media, which produces programs for public radio stations. From January 2000 to mid-2004, No. 1 was Florida with more than 500 trips, followed by California with nearly 400 trips and New York with more than 300. West Virginia, home to the Greenbrier resort, was the fourth most popular destination, with more than 200 trips. These were permitted because they were connected to "official duties" -- one of the requirements that the ethics rules impose on privately paid trips.

At least 850 of these trips were paid for by organizations with one or more registered lobbyists on their boards, the Medill study said.

Charity events also provide a sanctioned way to funnel otherwise forbidden perks to lawmakers and staffers. For years, the National Federation of Independent Business sponsored a golf outing for congressional staffers. When gift limits were imposed nine years ago, the event had to be canceled. A couple of years later, however, it came back stronger than ever as a charity tournament. The reason: Events that benefit good causes are exempted from the gift rules.

"It needed to be a widely attended charity event in order for staff to participate," said Donald A. Danner, executive vice president of the NFIB. "So we decided to make our charity Habitat for Humanity and we were back in business." Home Depot, the National Restaurant Association and the law firm Arent Fox helped sponsor this year's NFIB Summer Classic, which provided free golf and food to more than 40 congressional aides.

Lawmakers can no longer solicit, and political parties can't accept, soft money -- those large, unregulated donations that for years had helped candidates in elections. They can now collect only "hard money" -- strictly limited amounts that go directly into election coffers. But they can still attract large sums for other purposes -- very worthy ones, they insist -- such as self-named academic institutions. Companies with interest in legislation have trouble saying no.


The above hissed in response by: RBMN [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 13, 2006 7:50 PM

The following hissed in response by: mun

Perhaps the most significant reform would be a cessation of gerrymandering at the state level. No matter what they do the congress has a 90% reelection chance. Since each state legislature is also gerrymandered a federal initiative to (perhaps) restrict legislative districts to contiguous counties or complete fractions of counties with fraction lines lying on a n/s/e/w bearing. Would the 10th amendment pose an impediment to this?

The above hissed in response by: mun [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 14, 2006 7:03 AM

The following hissed in response by: John Sobieski

What surprised me in what came out of the Abramoff scandal is how sneaky it could be. For example, hiring a congressman's wife for an oversized salary to participate in a 'research' group surveying some opinions of Congress. It's all so clever. I think it was Delay's wife who was in on this scheme, but not for sure.

The above hissed in response by: John Sobieski [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 14, 2006 9:42 AM

The following hissed in response by: RBMN

When lobbyists mingle with congressional staffers, it's also somewhat of a job-fair for the staffers--networking, and preparing for their future career as lobbyists.

The above hissed in response by: RBMN [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 14, 2006 11:05 AM

The following hissed in response by: Gbear

The Congress should use its strengths. Give the money to the junior Senator from NY to invest in whatever she thinks is going to give them a good return. The use the money to fund health care, all the social security entitlements, and whatever else the Democrats think is needed.

Gbear

The above hissed in response by: Gbear [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 14, 2006 12:25 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Mun:

Since each state legislature is also gerrymandered a federal initiative to (perhaps) restrict legislative districts to contiguous counties or complete fractions of counties with fraction lines lying on a n/s/e/w bearing. Would the 10th amendment pose an impediment to this?

My first question would be, what is the Article I grand of rights that would allow Congress to fiddle with state legislative districts in the first place?

They can certainly enact legislation requiring congressional districts to fairly represent the people; but I don't know if they can actually draw even those districts, let alone districts for state legislatures.

Dafydd

The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 14, 2006 1:34 PM

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