( – promoted by buhdydharma )
Since Lobbyists are the “REAL agents of Change” in most of our Legislation, since Lobbyists practically write much of the Legislation, that they Lobby for, insuring that it will Benefit ONLY their Benefactors —
I’ve been wondering WHEN will the Democratic Party take a stand on this “non representative” process, which contaminates so much of The People’s Business, that SHOULD be taking place in Congress? Why is it, that Congress mostly caters to Corporate Business concerns, putting OURS off until some unknown Future date?
SO, I went to the source,
THE 2008 DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL PLATFORM
to find out
Where DOES the Democratic Party stand on Lobbyists?
Certainly the Democratic Party, the Party of the People, the Big Tent Party, certainly WE must have a “few planks” in our Platform, designed to empower US and constrain Them — the Lobbyists, those Representatives of Industry, those Protectors of Greed.
Well THE 2008 DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL PLATFORM DOES call out the influence Lobbyists in several key areas:
RENEWING AMERICA’S PROMISE
As Approved by the 2008 Democratic National Convention
August 25, 2008 Denver, Colorado
pg 9 (7 in pdf)
Americans have been promised change before. And too often we have been disappointed. We believe we must change not just our policies, but our politics as well. We cannot keep doing the same things and expect to get different results. That is why today we come together not only to prevent a third Bush term. Today, we pledge to renew American democracy by promoting the use of new technologies to make it easier for Americans to participate in their government. We will shine a light on government spending and Washington lobbying — so that every American is empowered to be a watchdog and a whistle blower.
pg 26 (24 in pdf)
Restoring Fairness to Our Tax Code
We must reform our tax code. It’s thousands of pages long, a monstrosity that high-priced lobbyists have rigged with page after page of special interest loopholes and tax shelters. We will shut down the corporate loopholes and tax havens and use the money so that we can provide an immediate middle-class tax cut that will offer relief to workers and their families.
pg 45 (43 in pdf)
It [energy security] requires making international energy markets work for us and not against us; it requires standing up to the oil companies that spend hundreds of millions of dollars on lobbying and political contributions;
pg 55 (53 in pdf)
Open, Accountable, and Ethical Government
In Barack Obama’s Administration, we will open up the doors of democracy. We will use technology to make government more transparent, accountable, and inclusive. Rather than obstruct people’s use of the Freedom of Information Act, we will require that agencies conduct significant business in public and release all relevant information unless an agency reasonably foresees harm to a protected interest. We will lift the veil of secret deals in Washington by publishing searchable, online information about federal grants, contracts, earmarks, loans, and lobbyist contacts with government officials. We will make government data available online and will have an online video archive of significant agency meetings.
pg 56 (54 in pdf)
We are committed to a participatory government. We will use the most current technology available to improve the quality of government decision-making and make government less beholden to special interest groups and lobbyists. We will enhance the flow of information between citizens and government — in both directions — by involving the public in the work of government agencies. We will not simply solicit opinions, but will also use new technology to tap into the vast expertise of the American citizenry, for the benefit of government and our democracy.
Americans want real reform that will help them pay their medical bills and put the country on the path to energy independence. They are tired of lobbyists standing in their way. So we’ll end the abuse of no-bid contracts by requiring nearly all contract orders over $25,000 to be competitively awarded and tell the drug companies and the oil companies and the insurance industry that, while they may get a seat at the table in Washington, they don’t get to buy every chair. We will institute a gift ban so that no lobbyist can curry favor with the Administration. We will close the revolving door that has allowed people to use their position in the Administration as a stepping-stone to further their lobbying careers. We support campaign finance reform to reduce the influence of moneyed special interests, including public financing of campaigns combined with free television and radio time. We will have the wisdom to put the public interest above special interests. As a national party, we will not take any contributions from Political Action Committees during this election.
THE 2008 DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL PLATFORM (pdf)
WOW! I’d really like to see some serious action on that last item:
including public financing of campaigns combined with free television and radio time
Then we’d know the Dem’s were serious. Last time I checked however, next to nothing was happening on with regards to reclaiming the Public Airways. WHEN will we begin to break this vicious cycle:
Citizens run for Office ==> Campaign Ads are very Expensive ==> Candidates need to raise tens of thousands of Dollars a day to run for Office ==> Once elected, Congressmen and Congresswomen must start raising money again, to get re-elected ==> Congressmen and Congresswomen give an audience to Lobbyists, since they control so much of the PAC funding that helps them, pay for those expensive Campaign Ads, to get reelected … wash, rinse, repeat. … fire up the PACs … keep them cooking on that back-burner …
Well, it IS good to see SOME constructive steps taken on the Democratic Party site, to begin to Stand up against the influence of Insurance Lobbyists:
The Dem’s site even has a cool video, and a Petition against Insurance Lobbyists:
The Democratic Party — Call ‘Em Out Page
THE IN$URANCE LOBBY
The health insurance lobby has spent millions trying to bully Congress into opposing reform, airing ads and releasing a report about the effects of reform that journalists and experts have called “deceptive” and “implausible.”
We’ve had enough — we’re calling them out.
Help cut through the spin — tell our representatives to say “no” to deceitful lobbyists and “yes” to reform.
And The Petition to Congress IS sternly worded (omg)
We’re counting on you to stand up to the Insurance Industry Lobbyists’ attacks and pass President Obama’s Plan for Health Care Reform in 2009
Well that’s good, I guess, as far as it goes, but personally I’d have more confidence in the Party’s “fight against Lobbyists” if there were a dedicated, well-defined Issues Page listed under the Agenda Tab on the Democratic Home Page
The Dems Call ‘Em Out Page DOES do a very good job however, of demolishing the last minute AHIP Report from the Insurance Lobby:
AHIP: America’s Health Insurance Plans
THE AHIP REPORT HAS BEEN ROUNDLY CRITICIZED
The Author Of The AHIP Report, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Admitted That They Weren’t Paid To Evaluate The Effect Of The Entire Bill And Said Their Estimate Could Be Wrong.
“PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the authors of AHIP’s report, put out a statement last night that basically said,
‘Hey, we weren’t paid to evaluate the effects of the entire bill, but rather a small slice of it.’
The statement only seems to reinforce critics’ view that the report is skewed precisely because it doesn’t take into account the totality of reform. PwC’s report estimates that insurance premiums will rise faster under the proposed reforms than under the current system.
The last, and key, line from the statement:
‘If other provisions in health care reform are successful in lowering costs over the long term, those improvements would offset some of the impacts we have estimated.’
In other words, PwC is saying if reform’s cost containment measures work, their estimate could be wrong.” (Politico, 10/13/09)
and they highlight the Insurance Industry’s misdeeds, and bad business practices:
THIS ISN’T THE FIRST TIME THE HEALTH INSURANCE INDUSTRY HAS LIED, CHEATED OR USED MISLEADING REPORTS IN AN ATTEMPT TO KILL HEALTH REFORM
Former Cigna Executive [Wendell Potter]: Insurance Industry Has Increased The Number Of Uninsured People By Using “Deceptive Marketing Practices” By Selling “What Is Essentially Is Fake Insurance.”
The New York Times reported on the vast underinsured population in the United State:
‘Underinsurance is the great hidden risk of the American health care system,’
said Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard law professor who has analyzed medical bankruptcies.
‘People do not realize they are one diagnosis away from financial collapse.’
Last week, a former Cigna executive warned at a Senate hearing on health insurance that lawmakers should be careful about the role they gave private insurers in any new system, saying the companies were too prone to
‘confuse their customers and dump the sick.’
‘The number of uninsured people has increased as more have fallen victim to deceptive marketing practices and bought what essentially is fake insurance,’
Wendell Potter, the former Cigna executive, testified.” (New York Times, 7/1/09)
If the Democratic Party needs some help beefing up those Anti-Lobbyist planks, there are some Organizations out there, doing the heavy lifting. Here’s one reform group “Democracy 21”, that spells it out, what it really means “to stand up against the Lobbyists”
Six Benchmarks for Lobbying Reform
1. Break the nexus between lobbyists, money and lawmakers.
Cap contributions from lobbyists and lobbying firm PACs to federal candidates at $200 per election and to national parties and leadership PACs at $500 per election cycle.
2. Prevent private interests from financing trips and from subsidizing travel for members of Congress and staff, and executive branch officials and federal judges.
3. Ban gifts to members of Congress and staff.
4. Oversee and enforce ethics rules and lobbying laws through an
independent congressional Office of Public Integrity and increase penalties for violations.
Establish an independent Office of Public Integrity in Congress and provide sufficient resources for the Office to effectively carry out its responsibilities.
5. Slow the revolving door.
Prohibit members of Congress and senior executive branch officials from making lobbying contacts or conducting lobbying activities for compensation in either branch for two years after leaving their positions.
6. Place sunshine on lobbying activities and financial disclosure reports.
Democracy 21 is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to making democracy work for all Americans.
Democracy 21 provides the public and media with the latest information and analysis on money and politics
Democracy 21 and Democracy 21 Education Fund are supported by grants from foundations, including The Pew Charitable Trusts, Carnegie Corporation of New York , The Joyce Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Open Society Institute and the Piper Fund, a project of The Proteus Fund, and by contributions from individuals.
If the Democratic Party can’t stand up and deal with the problem of undue Lobbyist Influence, in significant and substantial ways, sooner or later, they (and their GOP cohorts) will be supplanted by another more Progressive Party. One in tune with, and accountable to ONLY the People!
The People know that we desperately need “More and Better Representatives“, in office!
(ala the Grayson, and Wiener, and Sanders, and Wellstone kind)
And sooner or later the People will band together to create that Party that DOES Represent US —
an “Uncola” Party if you will — with regards to Lobbyist Influence —
Never had it — Never will!
The People will simply demand it, and will vote in the Candidates that speak for US. (and will FUND only those Candidates that speak for US!)
Granted, the Brand Name of the People’s Party, will likely NOT be SO trite as “Un-Payola Party” — But the Distinction between the Parties will be made Clear — as in Crystal Clear.
The Lobbyist’s “Party of Greed“, shall NOT stand — no matter which side of the aisle that their Patrons choose to set up shop in.
Most important substantial changes,
started out a off-hand, ironic idea.
This is an enormous effort on your part!
First, as to the “Petition to Congress” to pass Obama’s health care bill — I will not sign that Petition. Currently, there is not ONE truly decent health care plan out there. Obama’s plan got watered down to “nothingness.” The Baucus bill, having been a little revamped, does not provide a STRONG PUBLIC OPTION. We are about to be screwed unless we REALLY SCREAM — get on the phone TOMORROW. Demand SINGLE-PAYER and a STRONG PUBLIC OPTION. (We’re not about to get single-payer, but screaming for it is a good idea anyway, so that just, maybe, a STRONG PUBLIC OPTION will be considered. Buhdydharma had an essay on just this subject matter yesterday.
See Ed Schultz and Wendell Potter here!
I agree with “Democracy 21” Six Benchmarks for Lobbying Reform and I’ve been advocating similar changes myself, here, here and more. I’ve also always considered it a “conflict of interest” for our elected representatives to be taking “gifts” from lobbyists. All these “perks” on Wall Street, in the government, etc. have totally ruined whatever democracy we ever had (and, to be honest, we’ve never had an honest to goodness democracy period). BTW, what “perks” do you get in your job? (or do any of us, for that matter)?
Thank you for all your hard work on this, jamess!
I mean, maybe you’ll leave the Democrats, but there are so many people who think the progressive movement should be subordinate to the Democratic Party that I don’t think any politicians take these threats seriously.
Well, there’s a new national progressive party forming (if you haven’t seen my other comments about it) and I’m trying my best to stay in the loop about it. So let’s see if all of you are serious about leaving the Dems in 2010. This party will probably be strongest at the local level, so there’s no excuse for waiting.
I might run a candidate for township supervisor in my town (I’m too young to run personally) in 2010 under this party’s banner. If I find a candidate but the party isn’t ready yet, I’ll try to get them to run as a Green.
That should be obvious by now.
Is that close enough?