Friday, June 30, 2006

Kennedy v Klobuchar (with just enough Bachmann thrown in to give the anti-Bachmann crowd something to write about)

Posted by Craig Westover | 11:46 AM |  

Amid all the posturing on ethics by both Senate candidates Mark Kennedy and Amy Klobuchar, the tossing out of plans to legislatively enforce ethical conduct, Kennedy hits on the root cause of the problem and the logical solution to curb corruption -- take away the opportunity. From the PiPress --
In addition to his lobbyist ban, Kennedy said he favored cutting taxes and making the federal tax code simpler. Reducing federal spending also would lessen the opportunity for special interests to exploit the system, he said.
The lobbyist ban, a lifetime ban on former members of Congress becoming lobbyists, is a silly idea if not patently anti-individual freedom. If we’re going to go that route, how about prohibiting anyone that has accepted state aid from ever running for Congress? Or banning people that ever worked for a corporation from running for Congress? Or banning lawyers that practice law from running for Congress? Or banning members of Congress, who wrote laws, from ever again practicing law? It’s just plain silly.

But where Kennedy scores big time (someone ought to tell him) is his statements about making the tax code simpler and reducing spending. Toss in reducing government regulatory scope and he’s hit the nail on the head. The way to get money and corruption out of government is to limit what government has to sell.

Why would a company pay a big-time salary to a lobbyist to spread big-time money around Washington instead of investing that money in its business? Because lobbying is a better investment. Limit government scope, reduce the return on investment in lobbying, and the problem won't go away, but it will be reduced.

Of course, that’s not the ethics issue the GOP is touting. It’s latest release --
Corporate Lobbyist Amy Klobuchar Refuses To Discuss Corporate Lobbying Career

“Amy Klobuchar’s stubborn refusal to be straight with Minnesotans about her career as a corporate lobbyist will make it difficult for voters to trust her. Klobuchar often talks about open government and denounces corporate lobbyists, but she refuses to discuss her lengthy history as a corporate lobbyist and her campaign prevents citizens from documenting public events. It’s classic Klobuchar hypocrisy: say one thing, do another.”

- Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman Ron Carey
Guys -- Kennedy is on to something positive. Why not push it? Wishful thinking on my part, so let’s look at the Klobuchar issue.

Klobuchar is digging herself a nice little hole by banning recording of her public campaign events and refusing to talk about her lobbying history. But you know, she’s under no obligation to go there if she thinks it’s to her advantage not to. I’ll cut her the same slack as Michele Bachmann on contraception. Klobuchar doesn't owe voters anything. Her non-statement is a statement. It's Klobuchar's decison whether or not to trust the judgement of voters on her silence.

I will say I think the lobbyist issue has better legs with mainstream voters than the contraception issue. The latter was brought up by Democrats to split Bachmann from her base and portray her as out of the mainstream. Bachmann isn't making it an issue. I don't see evidence that the middle-right voter is buying it as a real issue. The lobbyist issue is one that Klobuchar herself is trumpeting. It’s going to be a little difficult for her to push the issue on the one hand and duck it on the other.

And she could have a reasonable answer -- quote Ronald Reagan: “Don’t blame the pigs for eating if you keep filling up the trough.”

Lobbying is a political necessity under the current system. Klobuchar (my assumption) saw the potential for abuse firsthand as a lobbyist, and that’s why she’s so strongly in favor of reforming the system. Like a good sales person knows how to game the company commission plan, Klobuchar (can say) she knows the loopholes that have to be closed -- better than a CPA that doesn’t understand the game and doesn’t know why all the sales people are making money and the company is losing its shirt.

Of course, that bullsh*t to a large degree, but it plays better than running and hiding on an issue of her own creation. Klobuchar being a lobbyist isn't evil, especially if she were both ethical and effective. Why not share her experience?

Bottom line -- once again Republican have a chance to take the high road and exploit Kennedy’s observation that limiting government limits corruption. Power and corruption go hand-in-hand -- always have, always will. Limit the scope of government power and you limit the extent of corruption. Yes, it is that simple.