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One thing is clear from November’s election results: those new, tea-infused Republican lawmakers are going to end business-as-usual in Congress. As incoming Sen. Rand Paul so plainly put it: “We’ve come to take our government back.”
Ah, yes, a government “of the people,” at last! But as one corporate lobbyist said of the fresh-faced newcomers, “As soon as they get here, we need to co-opt them.”
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Well, that didn’t take long. Just days after their election, even before they had been assigned office space in the capitol, dozens of these so-called “citizen legislators” were holding lobbyist-sponsored fundraisers at various swank watering holes around Washington. They glad-handed and grinned as such special interests as Exxon Mobil, Delta Air Lines, and Wall Street bankers welcomed them by slipping thousands of dollars into each of their pockets.
Adam Kinzinger of Illinois was one. Back home, he was pledging to change Washington. Only two weeks after winning a house seat, however, Washington was changing him. He held a “debt retirement breakfast” at the Capitol Hill Club, gleefully greeting corporate influence peddlers who paid up to $5,000 each to curry favor with him. Exchanging winks, the lobbyists knew that business-as-usual was alive and well.
Then there’s Andy Harris of Maryland, a doctor who won a house seat on November 4 by denouncing Obamacare as socialized medicine. But six days later, Andy was in Washington asking, “Where’s mine?” At a briefing for newcomers, Harris was incredulous to learn that the socialized health coverage that congress critters get wouldn’t kick in until four weeks after he took the oath of office.
Tell me again how this bunch is different? They’re not even in office yet, and they’re already playing the insider game like old pros.
“Freshman Party,” The New York Times, December 7, 2010.
“GOP frosh: Where’s my health care?” www.politico.com, November 15, 2010.
“Postcards from the frontroads and backroads of the 2010 election campaigns,” The Hightower Lowdown, December 2010.
“Incoming GOP freshmen rapidly embracing big-money fundraisers,” www.washingtonpost.com, December 6, 2010.