Abramoff-ian reform laws?

Casting about for an effective response to Republican ethics scandals cropping up quicker than pimples on a teen forehead, Democrats have embraced a lobby reform plan. Can't argue with that, can you?

Sean-Paul Kelley thinks it's a lousy idea:

"The most important thing to do is enforce the laws we already have on the books. Why more reform? Why more government? Why not win back Congress on this issue and conduct some much needed oversight instead of giving Republicans another chance to call us 'big-government liberals' who just want to regulate everything. For once can we take a winning page from the Republican playbook? Pretty please?"
Developments in congress seem to vindicate this strategy. It takes some "serious ass chutzpah" for the Republicans to propose their "lobby reform" bill, writes ReddHedd:
"[It] leaves a huge, gaping hole in in any actual reform, allowing members of Congress to keep wining and dining on someone else's dime...so long as they are also raising campaign funds at the same time -- brazen doesn't begin to describe the scheme."
See for yourself:
"According to lobbyists and ethics experts, even if Hastert's proposal is enacted, members of Congress and their staffs could still travel the world on an interest group's expense and eat steak on a lobbyist's account at the priciest restaurants in Washington."
"The only requirement would be that whenever a lobbyist pays the bill, he or she must also hand the lawmaker a campaign contribution. Then the transaction would be perfectly okay."
The Dems meanwhile unveiled their Honest Leadership and Open Government Act today which, they claim, will:
  • Increase transparency and accountability in government: holding Members of Congress accountable to ethics rules and allowing the public to see exactly what their elected representatives are doing in Washington.
  • Close the revolving door between government and K Street lobbying firms by strengthening the ban on lobbying by former Members of Congress and senior government officials after they leave to work in the private sector.
  • Fix the gift and travel rules that allowed Republican lobbyists to buy influence in Congress.

David Sirota isn't quite so optimistic, calling them: "solid steps, to be sure. But if anyone tells you they will be the key to either fixing America's broken political system or Democrats winning in 2006, tell that person to get their head examined immediately."

Even the Dems' proposal, he argues, won't be effective either "substantively or politically" because until we have publicly-financed elections, money will be the name of the game: "the truth is, you cannot fix a system if you allow it to continue as a system of legalized bribery, and you cannot take back congressional majorities if, like the Democrats, you propose solutions that are easily blurred by the majority.

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