Monday, February 18, 2008

Eric Z: On the revolving door...

Eric Z on Senator Russ Feingold's "Revolving Door Working Group".

It's a pretty good piece. From a 2005 Russ Feingold Press Conference

The revolving door is a problem for two basic reasons. First, because of the revolving door some interests have better access to the legislative process than others. Former members and staff, or former executive branch employees, know how to work the system and get results for their clients. Those that have the money to hire them have a leg up. The public perceives this as an unfairness in the process, and I agree. Decisions in Congress on legislation, or in regulatory agencies on regulations or enforcement, or in the Defense Department on huge government contracts should be made on the merits, not based on who has the best connected lobbyist.

The second problem with the revolving door is that it creates the perception that public officials are cashing in on their public service, trading on their connections and their knowledge for personal profit. When you see former Members or staff becoming lobbyists and making three, four, or five times what they made in government service, that just looks bad.

Both sides of this coin combine to further the cynicism about how policy is made in this country and who is making it. That, ultimately, is the biggest problem. The public loses confidence in elected officials and public servants. That is why this was one of the very first issues that Sen. John McCain and I worked on together back in 1995. And it remains a problem today; indeed it has become an even bigger problem as shown by the report released today.
Compare what Elwyn Tinklenberg said before the East Bethel City Council and what Senator Feingold describes as a problem that erodes public confidence.

Tinklenberg said we would work with Minnesota’s regional, state, and federal elected officials which is a critical element to the success of these types of activities. He said we have a lot of experience working with them. Tinklenberg said there are some things that we have learned in the process that can make you successful. He said first it is important to be clear about your expectations. Tinklenberg said more often than not you start small, demonstrate that you can deliver, and then go back for larger amounts. He said Congressman Oberstar will be working on a 6-year bill that might provide more opportunities, but, it is easier to come back a second and third time. Tinklenberg said the second lesson is none of this goes quickly, this is a slow process. He said If you get into this process brace yourself for a three year process. And third is get support.

Senator Feingold is right. We have an opportunity to support a status quo candidate who, simply put, has no chance in defeating Michele Bachmann. These lobbying ties are too juicy for Bachmann and the Conservative blogosphere to not exploit.

Or, we can support a candidate who supports change. A candidate who is firmly grounded in his positions. A candidate with integrity.

It's a pretty easy choice for me.

Great work Eric!

No comments: