Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 18, 2005
By: Kevin Drum

THE K STREET PROJECT....Tuesday's Washington Post ran a long story by Thomas Edsall about the success that House Majority Whip Roy Blunt has had in making K Street lobbyists into a virtual subsidiary of the Republican party. Need to whip some wavering congressmen into line? No problem. Just call a meeting with the "de facto 'executive committee,' a hard-core base of about 25 lobbyists," and waverers will step smartly back into the fold. If they don't, they can kiss their campaign contributions goodbye.

But how do you keep the lobbyists themselves in line? Simple: just hand out lots of goodies. Here's how it worked with a bill last year that would have eliminated business export tax breaks:

The measure faced daunting opposition. Rank-and-file Republicans, especially those from midwestern industrial states with large manufacturers in their districts, saw constituent companies taking a tax hit. Eliminating the $50 billion tax break would mean millions in annual losses for such major companies as Boeing, Caterpillar, United Technologies, Honeywell and Emerson.

....The solution to breaking the logjam: Every major lobbying interest got something, and the Republican opposition in the House collapsed. The manufacturing companies got a three-percentage-point corporate tax cut....Another group of multinational, U.S.-based companies, including General Electric, Coca-Cola, General Motors and Time Warner, won a major tax reduction on overseas revenue.

....As new tax breaks were added to the bill, the vote count "just got better and better," said [Rep. Mike] Rogers, who worked closely with Blunt on the mobilization of lobbyists. "It was incredible."

Incredible hardly seems the word for it, does it?

For more on this, see "Welcome to the Machine," Nick Confessore's indispensible primer on the K Street Project. It's an oldie but a goodie.

Kevin Drum 8:29 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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