Thursday, November 23, 2006

K Street welcomes Hoyer victory

By Michael J.W. Stickings

The Hill is reporting that K Street -- that is, Washington's pro-business lobbying establishment -- is happy with Hoyer's win over Murtha for House majority leader: "Hoyer gets credit on K Street for maintaining a dialogue with business groups, even if he hasn’t been a reliable pro-business vote." Which is true, but it's not like the Hoyer Democrats are the DeLay Republicans. Not even close. The connections to K Street, and to business generally, may be there, and may on the whole be more friendly than they would have been with Murtha as majority leader, but the Democrats now in power don't have years and years of vote-buying corruption behind them. That was DeLay's game. And, besides, there's nothing wrong with being friendly with business. The Hill even notes that Pelosi herself "is not generally viewed as anti-business". The problem is when business essentially controls the legislative agenda, or even writes legislation.

Nonetheless, the influence of money in American politics is itself a huge problem no matter which party controls Congress. For more, I recommend an excellent post by Howie Klein at Down With Tyranny!. I'm not quite as critical of the Democratic "establishment" (Hoyer, Emanuel, etc.) as he is, but his overall argument is a sound one and he asks the right questions: "Are Democrats ready to take on the big concerns they have so often finessed in this conservative era? Will they respond to the anger and discontents expressed by people in this election, or will they continue to play it safe?" I favour pragmatic leadership, but I also hope Pelosi's Democrats take reform seriously and make a concerted effort to drain the swamp. They're certainly not as bad as the Republicans, but they certainly don't need to act like Republicans either.

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