Democrats Should Stick It To The GOP On Lobbying Reform
There’s been a lot of talk about lobbying reform in the wake of the Abramoff disaster for the GOP, and the GOP has been doing its usual job of muddying the waters by stepping out in front of alleged reforms while trying to convince the public that the K Street Project was a bipartisan effort and that Democrats, who have no power, are just as guilty of influence peddling as the GOP. It’s utter bullshit, of course, but their willing accomplices in the media peddle the lies that the GOP tells relentlessly to the point that the public sees the problem as bigger than just Abramoff and the GOP. They will continue to do so until the public sees that the major players taken down by the Abramoff/Scanlon/DeLay mess just happen to be all Republicans, and even then the GOP and their media accomplices will find a way to say the Democrats did it too.
But Democrats can continually remind voters that Abramoff and his staff had over 200 contacts with the Bush Administration in just their first 10 months, and can show voters where it is the GOP that is still defending him. Democrats can do as Howard Dean did over the weekend and remind folks that Abramoff gave money to only Republican officeholders. And even if the GOP wants to continue with their "well, the Indian tribes gave money to the Democrats" retort, doesn't this mean that the GOP is alleging that the the tribes are an extension of Abramoff's criminal enterprise? I'm sure the tribes would have something to say about that.
As the facts come out and voters notice over the coming months that it is the GOP who disproportionately were guilty of crimes here, these poll numbers on which party is most to blame will shift. What shouldn’t get lost in the meantime however is the chance to drive a stake through the K Street Project. The ultimate prize here for Democrats would be to seize this opportunity and destroy the K Street Project through a far-reaching set of reforms, and not let the GOP and their sycophants in the media take credit for passing a watered-down lobbying reform package that does little. In fact, the public supports far-reaching reforms, changes that would go significantly beyond what the GOP hopes they can save from the ruin of the K Street Project. And that’s the point.
Of course the GOP leadership will never propose any measures that go as far as what voters would support, but the Democrats should be adopting these far-reaching measures as part of a reform platform for next year, and force the GOP to reject a far-reaching approach. The goal here is to put the GOP on the defensive for not cleaning up their mess, and to put the K Street Project under the spotlight so that voters can see that this really is a GOP problem after all.