Oft-vilified Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, infamous for his association with the GOP “culture of corruption” prior to the 2006 elections, not so much so for his numerous connections with Democrats, has reappeared on the national stage wielding a devastatingly frank tell-all book Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington from America’s Most Notorious Lobbyist. CBS’ Leslie Stahl interviewed Abramoff in a 60 Minutes segment framed as a notorious lobbyist “corrupting” Washington, but the interview may not have the desired effect of condemning “the capitalist system” for the existence of lobbying; rather, it exposes all of Washington as a den of thieves.
The CBS interview reveals explicitly what many Americans have suspected for a long time: that Washington operates largely on an indirect method of graft. One predominant way to court politicians into passing favorable legislation, Abramoff explains, is to offer cushy jobs and perquisites after the politician leaves office. The results are more astounding than one can easily imagine: Abramoff claims that as many as 100 Congressmen were in his lobbying firm’s back pocket.
Abramoff explains his technique in the CBS interview, as reported in an in-depth expose by WND:
Abramoff influenced legislators by lavishing them with access to private jets and junkets to the world’s greatest golf destinations, free meals and access to the best tickets to area sporting events. But the best way to peddle influence, Abramoff said, was to tell congressmen’s staffers high-salaried jobs would be waiting after their stint on Capitol Hill.
The moment the job was offered, Abramoff explained, “That was it. We owned them. And what does that mean? Every request from our office, every request from our clients, everything that we want, they’re going to do.”
“It was effective,” Abramoff said. “Most congressmen don’t feel they’re being ‘bought.’ Most congressmen I think, can in their own mind justify the system.”
Stahl was stunned and personally sickened by the revelations, summarizing, “I really think what you were doing was subverting the essence of our system.”
“Absolutely right,” Abramoff affirmed. “But our system is flawed and has to be fixed. Human beings populate our sytem. Human beings are weak.”
“And you preyed on that,” Stahl asserted.
Abramoff’s lobbying firm was far from the only such one on K-street; he cites the eye-opening statistic that there are over 30,000 lobbyists in Washington. And though it isn’t being asserted that all lobbyists are as corrupt as Abramoff, the take away from his revelations are that politicians’ special interest relationships explain much of the wasteful, out-of-control spending and shameless tone-deafness.
In order to rectify the unsustainable spending situation before it is too late, it may take an amendment to The Constitution, similar to the one Thomas Sowell proposed: Forbid all specific economic intervention into the market by The Federal Government. At least that way if the American public is going to get screwed, we’ll all get screwed equally.
As posted on Political Crush.