Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Crony Capitalism - Honest Graft

The Moose observes that the city that conservatives used to love to hate is lining their pockets.

For all you conservative chumps outside the Beltway who continue to think that the Republican rule is all about limited government, read this front page story in the Washington Post by Jeff Birnbaum - The Road to Riches Is Called K Street

"To the great growth industries of America such as health care and home building add one more: influence peddling.

"The number of registered lobbyists in Washington has more than doubled since 2000 to more than 34,750 while the amount that lobbyists charge their new clients has increased by as much as 100 percent. Only a few other businesses have enjoyed greater prosperity in an otherwise fitful economy."

The article tells a familiar tale to Mooseketeers of how the limited government crowd came to love their access to federal power to peddle their influence. As the Medicare drug bill best illustrated, the GOP rule is all about crony capitalism for their corporate pals. And the pay is very good for these conservative revolutionaries who loathe Washington,

"Lobbying firms can't hire people fast enough. Starting salaries have risen to about $300,000 a year for the best-connected aides eager to "move downtown" from Capitol Hill or the Bush administration. Once considered a distasteful post-government vocation, big-bucks lobbying is luring nearly half of all lawmakers who return to the private sector when they leave Congress, according to a forthcoming study by Public Citizen's Congress Watch...

"The owner of a large lobbying shop said that five years ago he could hire veteran Capitol Hill staffers for $200,000 a year or less. Now the going rate is closer to $300,000 a year and the most-sought-after aides can expect even more. In 2002, Susan B. Hirschmann, chief of staff to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), had so many lobbying offers that she enlisted Robert B. Barnett, the attorney for Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), to receive and filter them."

While times may be rough for those GM workers on Main Street U.S.A. who are losing their jobs, pensions and health care, these free market fanatics are cashing in here on the East Street of America - K Street, N.W. But aren't these erstwhile followers of Hayek shrinking government? Think again,

"The Republicans in charge aren't just pro-business, they are also pro-government. Federal outlays increased nearly 30 percent from 2000 to 2004, to $2.29 trillion. And despite the budget deficit, federal spending is set to increase again this year, especially in programs that are prime lobbying targets such as defense, homeland security and medical coverage."

Yes, conservatives have found a way to love the Federal government. But it wasn't always that way. Matthew Continetti closes a wonderful profile in the conservative Weekly Standard of Righteous Ralph Reed's money making prowess with this precious quote from him from long ago,

"My experience in Washington was disillusioning. The lofty ideals that I brought to the nation's capital were shaken by the reality of life in Congress, where votes were sold to the highest bidder and politicians shook down special interests for campaign contributions in what journalist Brooks Jackson has called "honest graft." I saw powerful people up close, became acquainted with their foibles, and witnessed the seamy underside of politics. I learned quickly that the pursuit of power is an empty and unsatisfying exercise without a moral compass to guide one's journey."

Honest graft, indeed!

-- Posted at 10:34 AM | Link to this post | Email this post