Hightower: False Reform in Congress
All right! Let's hear it for our members of congress for finally voting to stop taking free meals, golfing vacations, and other pricey gifts from Washington lobbyists. It's hard to get very excited about such an ethical baby-step as refusing to take freebies from lobbyists. But Loudspeaker Newt Gingrich nearly threw his arm out-of-socket patting himself on the back and taking credit when this reform passed. Never mind that Newt himself has himself been a major taker of these lobbyist give-aways and that he stalled, dodged, and whined for months before real House reformers finally dragged him into this vote kicking and screaming like some petulant brat. Plus, even while he was presiding over the debate, his chief lieutenants were urging Republicans to vote against the gift ban and offering amendments to sabotage it. For example, Rep. Dan Burton tried to sneak in a loophole that would have let members continue taking all-expense paid trips to golf, tennis, and other events held for charity. But whose "charity" do you think they're serving when lobbyists for insurance companies, big oil, and other special interests pay for our lawmakers' air fair, luxury hotels, bar tabs -- and even pay for their golf clothing for these events? Now get this: a majority of Republicans voted for Burton's "golf," until it was obvious it was going to be defeated, then they switched their votes so they could posture as "reformers." These guys don't even have ethics about passing ethics reform. Meanwhile, Newt and Gang continue to take millions of dollars in contributions from these same lobbyists, even while they block and real reform to stop this corruption. What a bunch of tricksters, huh?