Ask a Lobbyist: Dingell-ing
Every week, our Anonymous Lobbyist answers your questions about how laws get made and why they probably shouldn't. If you have a question about the dirty business of doing business in Washington, send it along.
This week: jackholes, committee chairs, and the over/under on when K St. Project 2: The Legend of Harry Reid's Gold starts up.
If (read when) the majority changes hands after the November elections, how many lobbyists will be totally screwed and out of work because their "go to" Congress person is no longer a powerful committee chair but just another minority party jackhole, keeping his chair warm blowing hot air out his ass?
First off, name me a Democrat who isn't currently a "minority party jackhole, keeping his chair warm blowing hot air out his ass." Hell, name me a Congress member or Senator of either party who doesn't enjoy a fart-warmed seat every day. I'll wait.
Thought so. So, the rhetoric will change, but I fully expect the (lack of) results to stay the same. I mean, how much thinking do you do when you slide into one of those heated leather car seats in the winter,
other than about your ass feeling nice and cozy?
But you wanted to know what might happen to lobbyists who rely on a single Congress person to get their work done. Take it from me -- any actual lobbyist who relies on only one Congress member or Senator to pass a piece of legislation is either as stupid as the Congress member on whom they rely, or only does approps. I mean, if all you plan to do to make money as a lobbyist is to convince some Brite Smile Hairpiece to sponsor a faceless amendment to an appropriations bill, your business will suffer if your Congressional lapdog loses a little power. But that's the risk you take by being a one-trick pony, and those guys mostly know it and charge appropriately.
On the other hand, most of us aren't truly that stupid/lucky. The vast majority of lobbyists aren't contract lobbyists working one-off amendments to appropriations bill for a couple of hundred grand. We're working for associations, nonprofits or corporations on multiple issues and we have compromises to develop and one-issue bills that we need to get a majority of Congress members to support or defeat. We can't rely on one Congress Member because he's only got one vote, and he's got money to raise and the occasional constituent who's paying attention. Plus, frankly, we don't work for a party -- we work for our employer. And our bosses have egos as big as (if not bigger than) any Congress person -- and many of them are K Street Project boobs -- so they aren't exactly going to take kindly to being told who to hire or who to fire by Ms. Pelosi. And how is Pelosi or any of her minions going to talk a (likely Republican) CEO into hiring Dems to get more business-friendly results from a Democratic Congress? Because CEOs aren't dumb like Congresspeople -- they know a shell game when they hear it.
So, really, I don't expect much to change in terms of lobbyists' affiliations. The Dems can't really run around screaming "Corruption!" in a crowded House and then immediately turn around and start their own K Street Project to threaten CEOs and elevate their own Abramoff. It took a whole 6 years for the Republican Revolution to degenerate into a lobbyist-screening program. I give the Dems until 2009.
If the Democrats win control of both houses of Congress this fall, which newly-minted committee chair will go on the most batshit-insane ego trip?
You mean, other than Pelosi? Because the second the press starts talking Pelosi in 2008, I smell catfight.
But, gosh, so hard to call. Senate first? Okay. Byrd is the top Dem on the Senate Appropriations Committee -- can we de-fund the Iraq war any faster (but not any bridges in West Virginia)? Major Enviro Bingaman as head for Energy and Natural Resources? Baucus takes Finance, which leaves... Boxer at EPW if Lieberman bites it against Lamont in November. Kennedy at HELP is too easy, as is Leahy at Judiciary. So, my vote's with Byrd, but those sexy, formerly Klan jowls get me every time.
On the House side, it's a little harder. Obey with Chair of Approps doesn't sound promising. But there's little funnier than Dingell as Chair of Energy and Commerce. My last boyfriend made me call it "the Chairman," but I told my girlfriends it was just a "little dingle." I doubt that even Pelosi will let Big Gay Barney Frank be chair of Financial Services, so I'm betting on Carolyn Maloney, but maybe that's just 'cause she's a New Yorker and it ain't nothin' but a G thang. Waxman on Government Reform will be a trip, but I'll bet he's positioning himself for something bigger (maybe E&C? -- watch out little Dingell!). But for my (corporate pimp) money, the winner is John Conyers, Mr. "Let's investigate if there's grounds to impeach President Bush". Despite the funny names of the others, Conyers seems guaranteed to take the Judiciary Committee chair from heart-attack ready Sensenbrenner and move its agenda from "let's kick out all the Mexicans" to "let's kick out Bush." I guess the Judiciary Committee's all about kicking stuff. But, hey, if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.