Thursday, February 21, 2013

How the system works

There was a very good piece in the New York Times regarding the “revolving door” in Washington D.C. That is the standard practice of former lawmakers (regulators as well) going from government to private sector work—usually directly related to issues they dealt when they worked for the government—back to government—wash, rinse, repeat.  It is so common for nearly every lawmaker to become a lobbyist after retiring from the House or the Senate that it’s not much of a news story—move along, nothing to see here.

However this article was a little different it that it focused on the staffers of the lawmakers, you know the ones that actually write the bills and the do the work.  They frequently get rewarded as well.  When these stories come up the people directly involved insist they always do what they think is best, lobbying or no lobbying, interest group or no interest group.  Strictly speaking, I think that this is true most of the time, because my guess is that these things are rarely made blatant If they are you wind up like Rod Blagojevich. As Matt Stoller explains it’s really about the culture, the milieu as it were, that the people who claim to work for us live in that is the blame. It’s understood that you toe the party line, that there are safe spaces to make a fuss and areas that are not touched. This is not about getting elected; it’s about the job you get afterwards. The speaking fees, (Clinton link) the think tanks, and yes, the lobby jobs. As a person in Congress, or a regulator you want to stay in the graces of the people with money because you want them to take care of yourself afterwards. It doesn’t matter how any said DC professional starts, 90% want that gig that will pay a lot of money, and to make that money you’ve can’t mess with the people with money. It doesn’t require a lot of spelling out. 

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