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Abramoff Is A Republican Scandal
So says Rich Lowry. He's right, but of course not because there's something uniquely corrupt about Republicans per se (though there is something uniquely hypocritical about their corruption, because they were supposed to be the party of smaller government, and present fewer opportunities to seek rent, as George Will eloquently points out). It's because Lord Acton had it largely right--power does indeed corrupt.
The Republicans should view this as an opportunity to get back to their small government roots. Unfortunately, they probably won't. Not that I'm inclined to vote for Democrats in preference, of course, because we know they'd be even worse. There is a "culture of corruption," but it's a culture of power, not of party.Posted by Rand Simberg at January 10, 2006 07:43 AM
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Excerpt: It's a REPUBLICAN Scandal...so let's fry the bastards involved and show the Dems what accountability is about....
Weblog: Confessions of a Pilgrim
Tracked: January 10, 2006 08:09 PM
Absolutely correct, the Republicans got the lion's share of the lucre as the party in power, forgetting their anti-corruption roots, and they better get out in front correcting the problem. The voter giveth and the voter taketh away.
TobPosted by Toby928 at January 10, 2006 07:50 AM
Clinton and a GOP Congress balanced the budget.
Clinton and a Democratic Congress? No way.
Bush and a GOP Congress? No way.
Seems like the moral of this story for 2006 is obvious.Posted by Bill White at January 10, 2006 09:08 AM
No, it's not obvious at all. Please explain it to us, Bill. Is it your nutty belief, based on flawed logic, that a Democrat Congress and a Republican president would somehow balance the budget?Posted by Rand Simberg at January 10, 2006 09:56 AM
The problem with that, Bill, is that they "balanced the budget" only because of windfall income from the Internet Bubble(tm) - and promptly assumed that income would last forever, and spent every cent of it, too.
A mixed government last balanced the budget before that... when?Posted by Sigivald at January 10, 2006 10:11 AM
"Seems like the moral of this story for 2006 is obvious."
I don't think its that obvious either. I don't recall running budget surpluses the last 2 times that we had a Republican president and and Democratic Congress.
TobPosted by Toby928 at January 10, 2006 10:58 AM
This might sound outrageous to many, but maybe you need something else than a two-party system. This works in many countries. (And I don't mean a single-party system ;) )Posted by meiza at January 10, 2006 11:03 AM
This works in many countries.
For some values of "works," I guess. It's less stable, and tends to require shifting coalitions. I don't see any multi-party parliamentary systems that I'd trade ours for.Posted by Rand Simberg at January 10, 2006 11:05 AM
For some values of "works," I guess. It's less stable, and tends to require shifting coalitions. I don't see any multi-party parliamentary systems that I'd trade ours for.
I think a reasonable change would be merging several (say three) congressional districts and implementing some sort of proportional voting. Then minority parties would have a lower threshhold to actually get a seat. Running a real presidential campaign is so difficult that I imagine few people will ever have the organization structure to do it and they might have to cannibalize a major parties' organization in order to do it.
As it is, the Republicans are the last truly successful third party in the US. The gulf between the parties and those that they purport to represent has grown greatly in the meantime.
I would be happy seeing more choice just in local elections. It surprises me some that the major parties exercise that kind of power at the local level since I'd have throught that the threshhold for running a campaign would be much lower.
Read this article and don't stop half way through. It points out that the Dems got money too, was their money good, from the Good Abramhof? While the Republicans took only bad or tainted money from the bad Abramhof?
As Charlie Brown would say, "Good Grief!!"
This is the post Dan Rather Fakergate, post Going to war without provacation / fake intel, post we don't like Bush, tirade.
It was inevitible.
Read the Article.
http://www.sanluisobispo.com/mld/sanluisobispo/news/politics/13550619.htmPosted by Steve at January 10, 2006 12:26 PM
Merging districts? Are you kidding. They are too big as it is. What we need is an amendment that says that the district size is fixed such the smallest state has two districts. That would aboutriple the size of the House (based on Wyoming and I'm too lazy to look up the numbers). But it would make it much harder for every member to get their slice of pork. Or at least mince the pork into deviled ham.
As for multiple parties, it sure hasn't does Canada any good, has it? Right now they've got Left, Lefter, Leftist and Free French.
More Represenatives would decrease the relative clout of each Congress-person. Britain's House of Commons is an interesting example.
Compare how many citizens there are for every MP versus the U.S. House of Representatives. (Divide total number of MPs by Britain's population and then divide the 535 US Representatives by the US population.)
Doubling the size of the House would make each Representative more responsive to fewer people.Posted by Bill White at January 10, 2006 02:16 PM
Here is a link to the folks relied upon in the link offered by Steve:
Here is the money quote from that report:
Here is a detailed look at Abramoff's lobbying, and political contributions from Abramoff, the tribes that hired him, and SunCruz C@sinos, since 1999.
= = =
Howard Dean flattened Wolf Blitzer on this exact point. Abramoff scandal is bi-partisan if and only if the American Indian tribes are agents working for Jack Abramoff.
Suppose the Navajo tribe gave the DNC and the RNC money. That is what is reported on this list. Abramoff ONLY gave money to GOP folks. Tribes that hired Abramoff gave money to the DNC and the RNC.
Apples and oranges.Posted by Bill White at January 10, 2006 02:23 PM
More Represenatives would decrease the relative clout of each Congress-person.
Doubling the size of the House would make each Representative more responsive to fewer people.
What's wrong with either of those things? What's the right amount of "clout" and right number of people to whom a representative is responsive? Why is more better in either, or both cases?Posted by Rand Simberg at January 10, 2006 02:35 PM
And you are probably the only person in America who thinks Howard Dean is an objective source.Posted by at January 10, 2006 02:35 PM
Whether Howard Dean is objective is irrelevant, Mr/Ms Anonymous - - which is now illegal BTW, to snark without giving your real name.
Actually Howard Dean is a partisan operative. That's his official job description.
Anyway, the talking point that because Indian tribes gave money to both RNC and DNC, therefore Abromoff scandal is bi-partisan has been well and truly steamrollered regardless of who says it.Posted by Bill White at January 10, 2006 03:10 PM
On Rand's question, to double or triple the size of the House of Representatives (so that each Congress-critter has the same number of constituents as a British Member of Parliament) would require K Street to shell out 2 or 3 times as much money to achieve the same result. Maybe more.
Maintaining a legislative coalition with 1605 Congress people based on monetary donations simply is harder than with 535. More to bribe and more to blow the whistle. Which is why K Street and our current Congress-folk won't allow it.Posted by Bill White at January 10, 2006 03:14 PM
There are 646 MPs in the House of Commons representing a population of just over 60 million.Posted by Bill White at January 10, 2006 03:20 PM
And doubling or tripling the size of the handouts would be a good thing because...???
This is akin to your belief that NASA must not only go to the Moon but must do so using the most expensive systems possible. It may make sense to you, but the reasoning is not obvious to everyone.
Posted by Edward Wright at January 10, 2006 04:42 PM
Edward, if we had 1605 Congress-critters or 2140 Congress-critters the influence of any one would be diluted. Substantially.
K street's influence would be diluted as well.Posted by Bill White at January 10, 2006 06:08 PM
I am amazed by those of you who think 1600 congress members could agree on anything. It's almost impossible to get any meaningful legislation out of the 535 we have now. The solution is MORE VOTER PARTICIPATION. We don't hold ineffective or corrupt politicians accountable like we should. "Leave the governing to others and others will govern." I can't remember who said this but we the people have the government we asked for.Posted by Bill Maron at January 10, 2006 06:44 PM
Yes, Bill, I understood you the first time you said that.
You have this annoying habit of making unsupported claims, then when someone challenges them, you don't support them with facts or valid arguments, you just repeat your original claim. As if we were stupid and didn't understand what you said.
I *know* you think the influence of a single Congressman would be diluted if Congress were larger. I don't doubt that you think it. What I question is whether it is true.
The amount of influence a Congressman has is determined by seniority and the Committee system. Your magic bullet would not change that.
> K street's influence would be diluted as well.
That certainly does not follow. Increasing the number of politicians would increase the number of market opportunities for lobbyists. It would also make it much more difficult to monitor and police Congressional behavior. Corruption is much easier to hide in a large organization than a small one.Posted by Edward Wright at January 10, 2006 07:16 PM
Personally I like Thomas Sowell's idea of paying Congressmen salaries in the millions, comesurate with their responsibilities, and eliminate fundraising limits with the exception of instant full and open disclosure. Your average fortune 500 CEO makes tens of millions a year. And their decisions rarely affect any significant chunk of the American economy. Congress, on the other hand, rountinely makes decisions that throws entire sectors of our economy into chaos--and we expect these people to be paid what a minor executive is paid in a top company.
You want top talent, you pay top dollar. You pay less than top dollar, you don't get top talent--you get people who are in it for other reasons (read glory hounds and crooks).Posted by tom at January 10, 2006 11:33 PM
if we had 1605 Congress-critters or 2140 Congress-critters the influence of any one would be diluted. Substantially.
If we had 2 or 3 times as many Congressmen, with 2 or 3 times as many Congressional Districts, I'd imagine we'd also get 2 or 3 times as much pork, 2 or 3 times as many useless committees, 2 or 3 times as many irrelevant self-serving speeches, 2 or 3 times as many staffers and aides running around leaking classified information, and 2 or 3 times as much corruption.
I don't think increasing government by a factor of 2 or 3 is a good solution for anything.
-SPosted by Stephen Kohls at January 11, 2006 06:06 AM
What about have fewer Congress-folk? Would that help?Posted by Bill White at January 11, 2006 06:15 AM
As for dilution, Edward, why isn't it obvious that 1 vote out of 535 is less diluted than 1 vote out of 1605? Why does that need to be explained?
As for policing, let 'em police each other.
As for security, heh! If we just dissolved Congress and gave the Executive Branch exclusive access to classified material there would be no Congress-critters to leak anything.Posted by Bill White at January 11, 2006 06:20 AM
Jeff Flake Republican of Arizona admits the GOP has too much power.
Elect some more Democratic Congress-critters and that problem will go away.Posted by Bill White at January 11, 2006 03:29 PM
Elect some more Democratic Congress-critters and that problem will go away.
No doubt. But it would create much bigger problems. ;-)Posted by Rand Simberg at January 11, 2006 03:36 PM
It doesn't "need to be explained," Bill. I understood your words perfectly. Believe it or not, it is possible to understand what you said and not automatically agree with you.
I am not asking you to repeat your proposal (for the third or fourth time). I am asking you to support it. Offer evidence, or at least valid arguments, to show that it will work.
Any proposal to "fix" Congress must be based on an understanding of how Congress works. The most important decisions are not made by a vote of 535 members, as your argument assumes. The most important votes occur in committee, and Congressional committees do not have 535 members. Even within a committee, power is not divided evenly among the members. Committee chairmen have disproportionate power because they set the agenda for the committee.
> As for policing, let 'em police each other.
Oh, yes, that works real well, doesn't it? :-) Do you have any other naive proposals to offer?
> As for security, heh! If we just dissolved Congress and gave the
Then what would you do with those 1605 Congressmen you want???Posted by Edward Wright at January 11, 2006 06:05 PM
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