Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 9, 2010

LETTING THE SUNSHINE IN, REDUX.... Just this morning, we talked about next week's "America Speaking Out" meeting between House GOP leaders and lobbyists. The stated purpose is for Republicans to get ideas for the party's policy agenda directly from lobbyists representing massive trade groups, including the GOP-friendly National Federation of Independent Business and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (which really loves Republicans).

While the meeting itself seems problematic -- do GOP leaders have to huddle with lobbyists for every decision? -- the other issue to come up was about transparency. Why should next week's discussion be held behind closed doors? Why not let the public take a peek behind the curtain?

Well, whaddaya know.

Republicans plan to livestream a meeting with trade group lobbyists next week after Democrats criticized the previously closed-door discussions.

House GOP leaders had planned to meet with business representatives as part of their "America Speaking Out" campaign, an ongoing effort to develop a platform for the 2010 elections.

That's certainly the right call. Had GOP leaders gone ahead with the meeting, and insisted on shielding it from view, it would have reinforced Democratic talking points. Ideally, Republicans wouldn't be shaping their currently-non-existent policy agenda based on lobbyists' suggestions, but if they are, it's preferable to at least be up front about it. GOP leaders don't often respond to criticism like this quickly, but perhaps this was an instance in which they just couldn't explain the need for secrecy.

As a practical matter, of course, the result is likely to be largely theatrical. The reason the "secret deals" and "behind closed doors" talking points from the health care debate became so tiresome is that meaningful discussions always occur in private. People are more comfortable being candid and constructive when they know they're not being recorded. As Greg Sargent noted today, just because next week's lobbyist meeting will be live-streamed, "doesn't preclude other private discussions between lawmakers and lobbyists from taking place, and the lobbyists will be a tad more guarded than they otherwise might be."

Right. I'm glad the meeting will be streamed, and I give the GOP credit for responding to criticism, but I don't actually expect John Boehner and the USCOC's Bruce Josten to slip and say something controversial next week. That'll come after the cameras are turned off.

Still, we'll get to hear exactly what the trade groups' lobbyists want to present in terms of economic ideas, and just how anxious the Republican leadership is to give them what they want. It should be fairly interesting.

Steve Benen 4:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (6)

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Comments

"I don't actually expect John Boehner ... to slip and say something controversial next week."

I think that you give John Boehner much more credit for intelligence than he and his alcohol addled Orange Being deserve.

Posted by: AmusedOldVet on July 9, 2010 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Are you kidding? The only part they are going to livestream is the part that's fit for the public to see.

The Republicans are going to coordinate with their lobbyist friends ahead of time, and the public will be privy to none of that.

I doubt the media will treat it as the kabuki it is and, instead of pointing out the absence of practical ideas or specific proposals, or the extraordinary unlikeliness of any of these people speaking honestly in front of the cameras, they will applaud the bravery of Republicans for this "open, public discussion."

Gag me with a spoon.

Posted by: karen marie on July 9, 2010 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

People are more comfortable being candid and constructive when they know they're not being recorded.

Huh? I go to meetings all the time that are recorded. Just because you can't be "candid" doesn't mean you can't be constructive. In fact, I would argue that people who are held accountable for what they say would be more constructive. And if they have nothing to say, then why the hell would they be at a meeting?

Posted by: Marko on July 9, 2010 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

I think that you give John Boehner much more credit for intelligence than he and his alcohol addled Orange Being deserve.
Posted by: AmusedOldVet on July 9, 2010 at 4:52 PM

Hahaha! You nailed it AmusedOldVet. Boehner is nothing more than a talking points spouting clown. He couldn't articulate what color the sky is on a clear spring day if it wasn't written down for him in a Frank Luntz and Karl Rove-approved script.

Posted by: electrolite on July 9, 2010 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

So the republicans are getting paid big time by the corporations, they are asking the corporations what their platform should be for the corporations!
Something is most surely corrupt here - paid by corporations, representing corporations, I would like to ask why we the taxpayers pay them, pay their health insurance, their office allowances and travel allowances etc. Also, we all know the corporate agenda - low taxes for corporations, low wages for workers, no health insurance for the workers and high profits for the corporations! Is this what we the taxpayers want?

Posted by: JS on July 9, 2010 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

I'll believe it when I see it.

Posted by: pol on July 9, 2010 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK
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