But now, as the media spotlight cools, lobbyists are aggressively pushing back against any true reforms. Their tactic is to claim -- believe it or not -- that they are invaluable to the democratic process! John Engler, the former Republican governor of Michigan who now heads the National Association of Manufacturers, asserts that his lobbying front for major corporate powers must not be restricted in its efforts "to educate and inform our elected leaders." Engler insists that the ongoing trips that the NAM finances for Congress critters and top congressional staffers gives them "a very valuable first-hand education" about the legislation that NAM members want ... or don't want.
Likewise, says the head of the American Society of Association Executives (yes, this is the lobbying group for lobbying groups). This guy chimes in that no lobbyist-paid junket should be banned, claiming that this would deprive lawmakers of views "outside of Washington." Hello ... you're inside Washington! Yet he insists that paying Congress critters to attend corporate conferences is an educational function in support of America's finest democratic ideals.
Hmmm. Democracy ... lobbyists ... junkets. In my mind, those words don't go together. When our lawmakers need information on issues, shouldn't they get it on their own or from independent sources -- not from paid influence-peddlers?
To push for real reforms to rein in lobbyists, call Common Cause at (202) 833-1200.
& lt;i & For more nuggets of wisdom from America's No. 1 populist, check out & lt;a href="http://www.jimhightower.com" & his website & lt;/a & & lt;/i & .