Quick question: Have lobbyists improved the political situation in Washington? Have they achieved consistency in policy-making, and clarity in directing governmental affairs? Or have they, taken all together, produced a confused mess of infighting and backbiting and self-serving that has helped to drag our political discourse off any true course?
If you think lobbyists — even those with whom you disagree — do more good than harm, then you won’t like this proposal.
I think most forthright observers on either side of the political aisle would admit that the numbers and types of lobbyists and political action groups have polarized more than they have unified our nation, especially since every group that starts to lobby for their interests seems to spawn another group to lobby for the opposite interest. They attract attention and money, which they dole out to their political advantage — even taking part in writing legislation that directly affects their interests — because that’s what they’re designed to do.
So, then, I propose requiring lobbyists to pay more up-front for the privilege of lobbying.
I propose that all lobbyists — whether individuals or organizations, whether for-profit or non-, whether affiliated with a political party or completely independent — should have to match every dollar given to every candidate or cause, whether directly through donation or indirectly through advertising or other action, with a dollar given to the general fund of the U.S. Treasury. Very simple: do an audit, find out what was spent on lobbying, and cut a check directly to the government for the same amount.
Of course the counter-argument would be that such a tax would inhibit free speech, but what lobbyists have right now is not free speech: it’s privileged speech, with steady access to power-brokers and audiences that most citizens don’t have. The question is whether that ready access is worth paying a premium. I suspect it would be, just as I suspect that, if anyone took this proposal seriously and tried to enact it, the lobbyists would rise up in one accord against it — because the only thing that would unite them would be a threat to their well-built structures of power and influence.
Oh, that government of the lobbyists, by the lobbyists, and for the lobbyists would indeed perish from this earth.
Another plug for the “Raleigh Tax Day Tea Party,” which will be held on Wednesday, April 15th (of course), from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at the North Carolina State Capitol. This event is one of many national grassroots “Tea Parties” in cities across the country. The Tea Parties began as a means to focus attention on the so-called stimulus plan — which has not, will not, and probably can not stimulate the economy as much as its proponents promised, but has burdened us and will burden our descendents with even more unreasonable amounts of national debt.by