Sunday, April 13, 2008

Once Again, You Get What You Pay For

Today, on front page of the Telegraph, Travis Fain has a story with this headline: More than $882,000 spent on state legislators by lobbyists. (Believe it or not, that's actually less than the $931,000 they spent last year.) Of course, like last year, and every other year, the legislators scoffed, "If people think they can buy my vote for the cost of a dinner, they need to think again." But, then, on the front page of section two, we learn that the insurance industry and their well-financed lobby got about 150 million in tax relief while the average Georgian got zippo, nada, nothing. These stories are, of course, completely unrelated. Of course. Oh, come on. Just use the brain God gave you. If lobbyist spending didn't get results, the money would stay in the bank.

The truth is that lobbyist money may not "buy votes," but the dollars do buy access to the lawmakers, and in politics, access is everything. Who do you think wrote the legislation that gave millions in tax breaks to the insurance industry? Do you really think that the legislators who sponsored the bill spent their summer vacation working on the syntax? I'm guessing, no. The bottom line is, if we want money to speak just a little less loudly under the dome, then we need to pass "cup of coffee" lobbyist reform, like, yesterday. It won't solve all the problems, but it's a good start.


Tina said...

Cup of coffee lobbying sounds good.
One can chat just as well over coffee as an expensive dinner. Plus there's the extra advantage of sobriety.

Amy Morton said...

I'd spring for the cream & sugar.