Friday, November 27, 2009

Out of the Lobby

That's nice. Just a little less corruption in US government.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of lobbyists are likely to be ejected from federal advisory panels as part of a little-noticed initiative by the Obama administration to curb K Street's influence in Washington, according to White House officials and lobbying experts.

The new policy -- issued with little fanfare this fall by the White House ethics counsel -- may turn out to be the most far-reaching lobbying rule change so far from President Obama, who also has sought to restrict the ability of lobbyists to get jobs in his administration and to negotiate over stimulus contracts.

The initiative is aimed at a system of advisory committees so vast that federal officials don't have exact numbers for its size; the most recent estimates tally nearly 1,000 panels with total membership exceeding 60,000 people.

Under the policy, which is being phased in over the coming months, none of the more than 13,000 lobbyists in Washington would be able to hold seats on the committees, which advise agencies on trade rules, troop levels, environmental regulations, consumer protections and thousands of other government policies.

This isn't occuring without lots of whining:
"It's taken me years to learn what the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade is," said Robert Vastine, a lobbyist for the Coalition of Service Industries who also serves as chairman of a trade advisory board. "It's a whole different and specialized world. It is not easily obtained knowledge, and they are crippling themselves terribly by ruling out all registered lobbyists."
The poor man.... The reality is not difficult to grasp. The public-private interface is the locus of corruption in a society as much as some transfer site of "expertise," as the lobbyists describe themselves as possessing in abundance. Don't be distracted by claims of "expertise." The very definition of a lobbyist has little if anything to do with objective, sound expert advice on good governance in a pluralistic democracy and everything to do with promoting particular interests, usually at the expense of other interests.
"You may lose a lot of expertise, but these people are also paid to have a point of view; they have an agenda," said Mary Boyle, a vice president at Common Cause.

1 comment:

MT said...

Hallelujah! Let's hope he keeps it coming.