Thursday, January 26, 2006

Today's "Well Duh" Headline

To whatever editor at the NYTimes came up with "Lobbyists Oppose Efforts to Impose New Restrictions" - we need to talk. If this headline comes as a surprise to anyone else, we need to talk too.

The article, at least, is worth reading, as it discusses a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing yesterday on lobbying reform and other efforts to root out government rot. For more on that, also see the WaPo's piece on the same subject, which headlines McCain's testimony at the hearing. McCain called for reforms beyond tightening lobbying rules (although he supports those too), including banning the earmarking process (a ban I think entirely necessary). McCain noted of earmarks in recent years "In 1994, when the Congress was taken over by Republicans, there were 4,000 earmarks on appropriations bills. Last year there were 15,000. It's disgraceful, this process."

McCain's statement received support from committee chair Susan Collins of Maine, who said in her opening remarks "We must end the practice of allowing members to slip earmarks that have received neither scrutiny nor a vote in either the House or the Senate into the final versions of legislation." Senator Tom Coburn agreed, saying "The problem is us ... we're not going to change anything 'til we change the motivation that the next election is more important than anything else."

Earmarking reform is going to be a very important part of the upcoming debate, and probably the sticking point for many in both houses. Our members of Congress will need to hear, loud and clear, from those of us who oppose the process - because you can bet your boots that they'll be hearing from those who want them to keep the status quo rolling along.


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