Dems and Lobbyists


Sure, there's no disagreement that the Republicans have to be swept out of power--they have presided over the absolute bungling of our foreign and economic policy, trashing the world and our own country in the process. But, before we drink the Kool-Aid of a vision of the Democratic Party in power, check out what Business Week reports in its current issue.

Under the headline "How Business Is Wooing Democrats," we learn that, "... Republican-leaning companies including Boeing, KPMG, HSBC (banking), and Merck (drug company) have signed on as top donors to the centrist new Democrat Coalition. 'There's been a palpable shift of outreach to Democrats by businesses, business lobbyists, and trade groups,' says Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.), New Democrats' co-chair."

And don't think this is just confined to the centrist New Democrats. Even "liberals" are feeding at the trough. According to the magazine, "Business lobbyists have scrambled to sponsor fund-raisers for Democratic Senators Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut and Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, who are not up for election this year but are in line to become key committee chairs if Democrats seize control of the Senate. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has a 24% lifetime approval rating from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has watched her contributions from business political action committees jump 31% over the same period in the last election cycle, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Even Representative Barney Frank, the sharp-tongued Massachusetts liberal in line to take over the House Financial Services Committee, has seen a 35% increase in his donations from corporate interests."

Steny Hoyer, the Democratic House whip, promises in the article that, if the Democrats take over the House, there won't be an "orgy of business bashing." Charles Rangel, who would chair the Ways and Means Committee in a Democratic-lead House, promises to unite business lobbyists and committee members on trade and tax reform. Brags mega-GOP lobbyist Wayne L. Berman, "We are positioned to represent our clients' interests to key House leaders in either party."

Its not just GOP operatives, though, that are salivating. Business Week lists an "A" list of "K Street players poised to cash in on a Democratic surge": Steve Elmendorf, former key advisor to Rep. Dick Gephardt, who represents Shell Oil and Ford; Tony Podesta, one of the party's biggest lobbyists, who represents such corporate standouts as Tyco; Mike Berman, who has worked on Democratic presidential campaigns since 1964 (and with great success, no?), and gets paid by among others, Comcast, the viciously anti-union cable giant; and former Rep. Vic Fazio, who sits on the board of Northrop Grumman and represented the Chinese oil company, CNOOC, in its bid to buy Unocal.

Does that mean, Congressmen Hoyer and Rangel, that Democrats are going to push through a renewal of fast-track trade authority in 2007 so that we can hand corporations more bad trade deals that send good-paying jobs abroad? Does that mean that Rep. John Conyers' bill to enact single-payer health care--a moral and economic imperative--is dead on arrival because, after all, we can't discomfort the drug and insurance companies? Does it mean that organized labor can give up on the fantasy of passing the Employee Free Choice Act because, after all, we can't actually engage in "business bashing" which, in this case, would mean exposing the brutal war in the workplace facing any worker trying to organize a union?

If that is what we have to look forward to, then, good Democrats, we have nothing to fear but our own leaders. Tomorrow, I'll propose a solution.