Paul R. Hollrah
July 26, 2011
Yes, it’s true, a small busy-body organization in Washington called the Center for Responsive Politics has discovered that the Earth is round. Well, not exactly. They’re not into astronomy, but they have published a report on congressional staffers, by Sarah McKinnon Bryner, titled, “From Hired Guns to Hired Hands: ‘Reverse Revolvers’ in the 111th and 112th Congresses.” Their conclusions are such that, in the real world of American politics, their report is roughly equivalent to a conclusion by a fourth grade science class that the Earth is round.
In the introduction to her report, the author explains that Congress is “one of the nation’s longest-standing institutions” and that it “employs thousands of people.” She also reports that many congressional staffers “are former campaign staffers for senators and representatives.”
However, instead of stating the obvious, it would have been far more useful to disclose what sort of expertise those former campaign staffers bring to their jobs. True, members of Congress have a right to hire whomever they please; however, before we proceed to tar all lobbyists with the same brush, we should make an informed judgment of the value of the former lobbyists, vis-à-vis the former campaign staffers who are often young people, in their late teens or early twenties, who have never held a job outside government and who could easily write their resumes on the back of 3X5 cards. Many are the sons and daughters of major contributors who have, in effect, bought their kids a job. Does the name Monica Lewinsky ring a bell?
The author tells us that “Others are policy experts with years of experience. And hundreds are former lobbyists who used to lobby the very institution for which they now work.” While it is true that there are thousands of so-called “policy experts” on Capitol Hill, the report would be of far greater value if the author had discussed how and where most of those “experts” acquired their years of policy experience. What the author fails to explain is that many of the so-called “policy experts” are former academics, strong on theory, but with no real world experience; many have gained their experience through on-the-job training as committee staffers; many had previous careers in the federal and state bureaucracies; and many more… and please don’t tell anyone… gained their expertise in the private sector, in trade or professional associations, or in the Washington offices of corporations, labor unions, or special interest pressure groups.
And since no member of Congress could possibly be familiar with even a fraction of the bills they vote on, these are the people who tell their members how to vote. Lest we forget, and before we become too sanguine about the motivations of these so-called “policy experts,” it is important to remember that it is they who wrote the 2,300 page Obamacare bill which Nancy Pelosi told us had to be passed “before we can find out what’s in it.” Obamacare was written by committee staffers and not a single Democrat who voted for it had the foggiest notion of what was in it. The fact that Obamacare even exists today is a perfect example of what is referred to by government relations professionals as “staff advocacy.”
The report goes on to say that, “The Center finds that the number of lobbyists employed in these positions is rising. In all, the number of lobbyists in Congress has increased by more than two-fold between the 111th and 112th Congress, these lobbyists representing a variety of industrial sectors and special interest areas.” But then, in a display of undisguised political bias, the author proceeds to point out that, “There’s also a partisan nature to the increase in lobbyists, with an influx of lobbyists working for freshman Republican representatives.” She goes on to say, as if suddenly discovering some new universal truth, that “Furthermore, several major companies’ former hired guns now work for the very congressional committees they used to lobby.”
Surely the author is aware that there was an elections on November 2, 2010 and that, in those elections, Democrats received a well-deserved “shellacking,” to use Barack Obama’s term. In that election, Republicans gained 63 seats in the House and 6 seat in the U.S. Senate.
With each House member employing approximately 22 full and part time staffers, with each member of the Senate employing roughly 40 staffers, and with some 112 House committees and subcommittees undergoing change in leadership, this means that, as of November 3, 2010, some 1,850 Democrats were suddenly unemployed and had to be replaced with Republicans. Surely the author would not expect the winner of, say, Florida’s 8th Congressional District race, former state senator Daniel Webster, would simply move in and retain the staff of losing Democrat Alan Grayson, the most despicable human being ever elected to public office…
The author also appeared mystified that many of the new Republican committee staffers were drawn from the ranks of corporate lobbyists. It seems hardly reasonable to think that newly-seated Republican committee chairmen would recruit committee staff from among the ranks of labor unions, public employee unions, trial lawyers, unionized public school teachers, or radical environmentalists. Their primary concern would be to hire committee staffers who, unlike those they replaced, actually know a thing or two about the issues that come before them.
But the most stunning part of the report implies some sort of dark motivation on the part of lobbyists and former lobbyists. The author writes, “But questions remain. For example, why do these lobbyists return to the public sector? And, what does the preponderance of former lobbyists in Congress mean for the future of American democracy?
The 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees all Americans the right to “petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” So why do lobbyists return to the public sector? For the author to question why those who feel strongly about the direction of public policy on key national issues… especially with a totally inexperienced and totally incompetent Democrat in the Oval Office… is beyond comprehension. Could it be that the author of the report is so blinded by her own liberal views that she fails to understand that real Americans may also feel the need to have their grievances redressed? But an even more sinister implication of the question is that, somehow or other, when an otherwise moral and ethical individual decides to work as a lobbyist they, of necessity, check their honesty and integrity at the door.
What the author clearly ignores is the fact that, in the lobbying profession, there are Democrat lobbyists and there are Republican lobbyists. To understand what that means, one must first understand that the Democrat Party is comprised almost entirely of special interests, all wanting something from government at the expense of everyone else. For example:
▪ Trial lawyers rely on Democrats to give them special protection under the law so that they can continue to bilk doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, and corporations out of billions of dollars in frivolous lawsuits.
▪ Labor unions rely on Democrats to give them special consideration under the law that will translate to unfair economic advantage… more pay and better benefits for less work… over employers and non-union workers.
▪ Public employee unions, in the most incestuous relationship of all, give Democrats tons of money so that Democratic lawmakers will continue to expand bloated bureaucracies, creating millions of new government jobs, filled by union workers, whose dues payments then go to elect more Democrats.
▪ Under the false premise that throwing more money at public education will somehow produce better-educated children, unionized teachers rely on Democrats to pour more and more money down the education rat hole. Unionized teachers use those taxpayer dollars to intentionally “dumb-down” our children and grandchildren.
▪ Understanding that Democrats will support their efforts to hamper U.S. domestic energy production, while promoting non-existent pie-in-the-sky “green” energy technology, radical environmentalists pour millions of dollars into Democratic political coffers.
▪ Other special interest groups, such as minorities, radical feminists, pro-abortion activists, gays, and lesbians, all demanding special consideration of one kind or another, rely on Democrats to support their otherwise unpopular special interest agendas.
All of these special interests are represented on Capitol Hill by hordes of lobbyists who DO check their ethical and moral standards at the door and who, unlike their corporate counterparts, are not a bit shy about demanding a quid pro quo. It is lobbyists for these special interests who give the profession a bad name and who promote the development of policy and programs that are, more often than not, anathema to the best interests of the nation. It is lobbyists for these interest who create a revolving door between government agencies, left wing pressure groups, and the offices of Democratic members of Congress. It is leftist special interest groups and the lobbyists who do their dirty work who are the enemies of the people.
Yes, elections do have consequences. But what is most important about elections is not so much the numbers game of who has more people on their side of the aisle. What is more important is the change brought about by the thousands of nameless, faceless staffers who come and go with that shift in power. We should never lose sight of the fact that, when we turn a Democrat out to pasture, we are also sending dozens of dangerous liberal parasites to the unemployment lines.
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