In the latter years of his Senate career, Evan Bayh won every single battle he fought. A less effective stimulus package? Bayh fought for it and won. Defeats for EFCA and cap and trade? Check. The public option stripped from the Affordable Care Act? Despite the fact that Bayh told David Axelrod and and Jim Messina that the mood of his fellow moderate Democrats was that "We're all screwed if you don't get something real on health care," and made it clear in December of 2009 that "the health care measure was the kind of public policy he had come to Washington to work on" and that he "did not want to see the satisfied looks on the faces of Republican leaders if they succeeded in blocking the measure," Bayh backed the watering down of the Affordable Care Act and got his way on that too.
But Bayh really, really wanted the Senate to create a special deficit commission (the President's own commission not being sufficient, for some reason), and when he didn't get his way on that, he quit the Senate in a snit and rode his waaah-mbulance back to Indiana, vowing, "If I could create one job in the private sector by helping to grow a business, that would be one more than Congress has created in the last six months.”
UPDATE: Because there are legal distinctions here that apply to the term "lobbyist," let me be clearer. Bayh's activities won't technically make him an officially anointed "lobbyist." He's like Tom Daschle: a creature we refer to here as an "influence launderer":
Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle will soon move from one big lobbying firm to another even bigger lobbying firm. It's a career boost for a first-rate K Street powerbroker -- just don't call him a lobbyist.
Lobbyists, after all, are required to register with Congress and file quarterly reports disclosing their actions on behalf of clients. The South Dakota Democrat, like a growing number of people in his line of work, has made sure he doesn't have to do that.
"I've not made a call nor made a visit since I left the Senate on behalf of a client. And I don't have any expectation that I'll do that in the future," Daschle told the New York Times recently.
By claiming that he never picks up the phone on his clients' behalf, Daschle is not legally obliged to declare himself a lobbyist, even if all his work for those clients falls under the general definition of "lobbying activity." That means he can keep his clients' identities and how much they pay him entirely secret.
Anyway, in America, influence and access are fungible goods, and Bayh is bringing his to the U.S. Chamber. What will he do there? Oh, he and former Bush chief of staff Andy Card are going to fight government regulation, thanks for asking! Per Peter Stone:
The Chamber’s expanded effort for regulatory relief and reform, which began last fall, is aimed across all agencies of government. Donohue’s memo cites several choice targets including: the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Donohue explained in his new memo that business supports “sensible regulations…But we’ve gone too far. America is sinking under the weight of an ever expanding regulatory state.”
The modest goals of the "newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau" include making the fine print of credit card and mortgage agreements more consumer friendly -- and by that I mean, less riddled with obtuse tricks and traps that screw ordinary people. Evan Bayh would rather these tricks and traps continue, apparently.
I'm glad they'll be taking on the Securities and Exchange Commission, too! Despite the fact that it's currently being run by Mary Schapiro, the former FINRA head who fumbled oversight over Bernie Madoff and who is best known for being "well-liked and acceptable to everyone" despite having been (or actually probably because of the fact that she was) "at the very center of a failed regulatory process for the past two decades," I suppose there's some slim chance the SEC might start performing robust oversight. And everyone knows that it was definitely onerous government regulation that led to largest financial crisis in our lives!
The Chamber's hiring of Bayh, a big name in Washington circles, will only help its efforts to delay or kill new regulatory legislation in Congress. Indeed, Donohue's memo touts how the Chamber has filed legal briefs to challenge the validity of President Obama's health care reform bill; successfully delayed a new Securities and Exchange Commission rule on giving shareholders a say on corporate directors; unveiled plans to undermine the clout of the fledgling Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; and delayed a rule forcing companies to disclose when they use conflict minerals from the Congo in their products. Bayh and Card, the memo says, will help the Chamber push this pro-corporate agenda in Washington and beyond.
Oh, wow! They're opposing a rule that would force "companies to disclose when they use conflict minerals from the Congo?" That's big leagues, Evan! A chance to finally get some blood on your hands!
At any rate, you can never underestimate Evan Bayh's ability to find new pieces of himself to sell off to pimps. At the rate he's going, I'm quite sure that in the coming years, whatever is left of his disowned soul will end up chopped up and stuffed into the mezzanine tranche of a synthetic derivative.