Current Lobbyist Scandal In Washington Bitter Fruit Of Un-Biblical, Un-Constitutional Federal Government
Well, surprise! Surprise! There’s a huge lobbying/bribery scandal in Washington DC involving super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff who, in our Nation’s capital, is now the focus of all evil in the universe. But, who could have predicted this? Who could have possibly predicted that if, over decades, you put out a gigantic trough full of trillions of dollars (the Federal budget) and all kinds of un-Biblical, un-Constitutional programs, that some of the thousands of pig-lobbyists would try to get some of this dough and power by any means necessary?
Well, the answer is that anybody with a brain could have predicted the current scandal, and many more like it that have occurred. But, alas, there is a severe shortage of people with brains running our national government.
So, what’s the solution to this problem? To get a Liberal view on the current scandal I interviewed Mike Surrusco, head of ‘the ethics campaign’ of Common Cause, a longtime ‘reform’ organization in Washington DC. Here’s the way it went:
JL: What as you see it, is the lesson or the moral of this whole Abramoff scandal?
MS: Well, I think what we’re going to see is a kind of finally looking behind the curtain here at what has been happening in Washington in terms of the lobbyists and their relationship with members of Congress. And I think the lesson is gonna to be that the rules that govern that kind of behavior really can’t be ignored any more the way they have been on really kind of a wide scale or a wide spread basis. For a number of years for a variety of reasons lack of enforcement a lack of disclosure lobbyists sort of operating in the dark and people not really knowing what they do or who they meet or who they’re taking out to dinner and so forth so this is I think really going to shine a light on kind of what’s been happening. Jack Abramoff is really so guilty in taking these excesses just to new levels to a lesser extent they’ve been going on for a long time with maybe a lot of lobbyists. So, hopefully we’re going to get some good reform out of this, and clean up this mess.
JL: So, we need some more rules?
MS: Well, no it’s partly what’s gone on has not gone on because of a lack of rules as much as because of a lack of enforcement. Congress has within it committees that are set up to enforce rules that are already on the books. And there are probably places where we need some better rules and more clear rules, but a lot of the things in the Abramoff case where they are already against the rules; gifts to members, free meals, you know, so what the problem is that these committees that have been set up to enforce these rules simply have not been done their jobs.
And there’s sort of a long history there and both parties are to blame for this sort of lack of enforcement and oversight of the rules, and that is something that we, you know, Common Cause, has been focused on to get these committees to do their job to do investigation. Like for instance, if you recall, Rep. Duke Cunningham, from California, who recently resigned after pleading guilty, to bribery charges the ethics committee in the House of Representatives never even started an investigation of Rep. Cunningham, even though we knew that something was going on for a long time, you know before he pleaded guilty. So, that’s where we have really kind of focused our efforts on, you know, there are a lot of rules and you guys are just ignoring them. And that’s what needs to stop.
JL: So, all these reforms in the past now need to be reformed?
MS: Yea,h you might say that.
JL: So, we need to reform reform? Well, let me tell you what I think the problem is and I speak as someone who has watched Washington for over 40 years we’ve got a huge trough here in Washington DC and you are absolutely correct Republicans and Democrats have been equally guilty in building up this huge trough of hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goodies and that organizations like Common Cause which is a big government group I don’t recall a program that Common Cause has ever opposed because it was un-Biblical or because it was un-Constitutional.
So, right up until the moment we speak we have this gigantic, huge humongous public trough here in Washington and we’ve got all these pigs coming to root in it to get what they want and there’s at least one or two solutions to this problem. One is to individually beat each and every pig to death before he gets to the trough- that’s the approach of you guys you know, we need reform we need more oversight we need more rules.
My idea is no, no-no what we need is to reduce the size of the trough make government Biblical make government Constitutional you’ll have a much smaller trough and therefore, it doesn’t matter how many pigs try to get in it it’s a matter of physics only so many pigs can fit into a trough. In fact Stephen Moore, who used to work at Cato Institute, an economist, told me that he estimated that maybe maybe 90% of everything the Federal Government does is un-Constitutional. So what do you think of the idea of having a Biblical, Constitutional government that would reduce the number of lobbyists dramatically?
MS: Well, I’m not sure what you mean by a Biblical government, but when we talk about the trough, and I know that the term that you’re throwing around pretty liberally. You know what we’re talking about is not the government per se, in terms of what the government spends we’re talking about campaign contributions that come in from the private sector. So that regardless of the size of the government is still going to exist.
JL: Well, no actually it won’t I mean if you look at the things that Jack Abramoff was involved in, or appears to have been involved in he’s a friend of mine, by the way I met with him, know him getting federal grants and federal licenses and money for Indian tribes I mean that’s ridiculous that’s an un-Constitutional program. There’s no way in the world the Constitution authorizes Congress to spend money to subsidize Indian tribes and casino’s. In other words, if you look at every one of these programs almost every one of these programs that people were giving campaign contributions to get the members to approve their point of view they’re un-Constitutional! They shouldn’t even be Federal programs!
MS: Well, I’m not a Constitutional expert I can’t really talk about the Constitutionality of certain government regulatory
JL: But it does seem to me to be somewhat of a contradiction that all the liberals over the last four decades have had no trouble at all building up the federal government getting it involved in more and more things which means it has more and more goodies to hand out and then they complain when businesses and lobbyists come here to get their share of the pie, or in some cases simply lobby in self defense.
MS: Well, I would just point out that President Bush and the Republican Congress now have expanded the size of the government
JL: Oh, I agree it’s horrible. It is an embarrassment. I started out I am a recovering republican, and by the way I worked at the Republican National Committee in the early 1970’s I was the official Republican Party propagandist and edited their publication called “Monday” and one of the major campaigns we ran in the newsletter was against the democrats for being big spenders, And of course now the Bush administration has given us the largest, most debt-ridden, intrusive federal government in the history of the universe.
But, what I’m saying is I do not think that you can maintain the federal government at the present size, which is, you know, maybe 300, 400, 500 billion dollars in debt annually and have oversight that’s ridiculous they can’t have oversight can’t oversee all these hundreds of billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of employees handing this money out. I don’t think it can be done. It’s too big it’s too big it’s an impossible job.
MS: Yeah, I think what you’re talking about is a little different than the Abramoff investigation, though I think.
JL: How so?
MS: Well, I think you’re talking about federal employees and about money that the government spends and the Abramoff investigation is the campaign contributions that are coming in from outside to members of Congress.
JL: But why were they giving them campaign contributions? They were giving campaign contributions to try to get their favorite program to get some kind of preferential treatment, and my point is that if those programs weren’t there you would have no lobbyists there lobbying trying to get their snout in the public trough.
MS: Well, I guess your simple point is that if there was no government at all then there would be no corruption.
JL: No, if there was Constitutional government or Biblical government it would be tremendously smaller. I assume you are generally familiar with our Constitution?
JL: And it has in Article 1, section 8 about 18 categories where the Congress can spend money and if it’s not in there they can’t spend it. So, I’m for a Constitutional form of government by the way a Biblical form of government in the New Testament, Roman’s Chapter 13 specifies, what is the role of civil government, and it may surprise you to learn that it is not to give Indian tribes money and help them build casinos.
JL: All right. Your web page says Common Cause is a watchdog on ethics you are head of the ethics campaign. What kind of ethics you talking about here, Mike What system of ethics are you invoking and applying here that says something is unethical.
MS: What we mean by that is the rules that govern the behavior of the members of Congress in this particular instance.
JL: But, how do we know whether the rules are ethical or unethical?
MS: Well, I guess that’s really up to the public. The rules that the members of Congress have adopted for themselves and if the public felt that these are unethical rules, they should tell their member of Congress.
JL: I’m looking at another of your press releases as you speak October 31st headline is “Cronyism and secretism run rampant at Corporation for Public Broadcasting” I’m sure you remember that one, and my point is, Constitutionally and Biblically there should be no corporation for public broadcasting. That’s not something the federal government should spend money on. And if they didn’t exist there’d be no cronyism there, right?
MS: I guess so, right.
JL: You understand my ethics question, that ethics come from somewhere. There are a variety of views as to where ethics come from, but you’re just saying that an unethical activity or unethical miss-deed, as one of your statements on your web page is one that violates any rules that Congress has set.
MS: That’s correct.
JL: Could we perhaps depart here by agreeing that if in fact, the federal government is violating Scripture, as regards to the civil government, and if it’s disobeying the Constitution, that that is in fact an ethical misdeed?
MS: Honestly, I don’t know what the Scripture says in order to —.
JL: All right, fair enough. If we were to say, if, if, a theory, if we had programs that the federal government was funding that were un-Constitutional, would that be an ethical misdeed, or unethical to you?
MS: Well, I think if the federal government was doing things that were un-Constitutional, that it would be likely that someone would bring a court case against the government which the Supreme Court exists to do, which is to decide what’s Constitutional and not Constitutional, and they have ruled that many federal programs are Constitutional so it seems that you’re in disagreement with the Supreme Court.
JL: Well, first of all, I would wonder whether Common Cause, to me knowledge maybe I’m wrong has Common Cause ever challenged a federal program because it was un-Constitutional, to your knowledge?
MS: I don’t believe so.
JL: Secondly, as you also probably know you’ve got to get the government’s permission to sue them, right?
MMS: No, you don’t.
JL: Really? Well, then, I’ll check that, but I think I’m right. Well, God bless you, and I appreciate you talking to me here. We just need a smaller federal government.
JL: Thanks. Appreciate it.