Friday, 13 May 2011 16:31

Louisiana's Stiff Coffee Lobby Bill Fills No Legit Cup

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Our old friend Walker Hines is at it again. In hopes that he would stir up some juice around his campaign for Secretary of State, Hines filed HB453, what he so euphemistically called the "No-Cup-of-Coffee" bill. It aims to restrict lobbyists from buying even trivial items for Legislators (hence the coffee). Supposedly, this would diminish the lobbyist's ability to "wine


Of course, Hines' bill, even if had passed, would likely have no effect at all. As long as legal entities (or juridical persons such as LLCs, corporations, etc.) may make campaign contributions, a cup of coffee isn't going to reduce lobbyist influence in the slightest. To wit, just yesterday, the House Governmental Affairs Committee agreed to a bill that reaffirmed this particular circumstance. HCR49, filed by Representative Ligi states:

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislature of Louisiana does hereby express, pursuant to R.S. 24:177(B)(2), its intent regarding R.S. 18:1505.2(H) that the individual, a natural person, and a legal entity wholly owned by the individual, a juridical person, are separate "persons" under the provisions of the Campaign Finance Disclosure Act and that any wholly owned Subchapter S corporation or wholly owned limited liability company may make a campaign contribution in its own right, and such contribution shall not be aggregated with the campaign contribution of the owner of such legal entity.

It changes no law, just re-clarifies the glaring issue with Louisiana campaign finance reform. What would Buddy Roemer say? Ironically, the Louisiana campaign finance system that allows juridical persons to donate was instituted and backed by none other than... Buddy Roemer. But we digress.

So, a corrupt system cannot be tamed by banning coffee. What do the teabaggers thingk? We'll let the clowns at the Hay Ride fill you in:

And third, isn’t it past time to get off this business about the evil lobbyists?

How dare we persecute the lobbyists! Our Galtian overlords demand that Goldman Sachs get what they want! The rest is some simpleton babble about government being in everything, so of course corporate lobbyists are just defending righteous big business against evil government intrusion

But let's suggest, for an instant, that we live in reality. And in reality, business LOVES government. Sure, they are annoyed by regulations, some of which are warranted, some of which are not. But they don't hate government. Oh no, through their lobbyists, they suckle at the teet of big government. And then they ask for more. Much more.

For example, Gold standard small government Bobby Jindal is happy to plunk down millions of dollars in corporate welfare to Nucor, chicken plants, satellite phone makers, and others. But they create jobs! Hundreds of jobs for millions of dollars in state-giveaways. Bribery works. 

Big Oil, never a shrinking violet when it comes to shamelessness, is railing against attempts to diminish tax breaks and other incentives. We applaud their incredible profits, and investments, but at some point, isn't it just bad for the taxpayers to subsidize a hugely profitable industry. It's like giving charity to the shareholders. 

And we all know the story of GE's taxes (didnt pay zero, but also didn't pay much at all).

Here's the point: Big Corporations aren't being hobbled by Big Government, they're the one's helping to expand it. Defense contractors, Oil Companies, Crop Makers, car makers, financial services firms, etc. all love government money. They want big spending, big subsidies, and big tax breaks. That's not government getting in business' grill. That's business using its outsized influence to increase its profits at the taxpayers' expense. 

So whether lobbyists spring for the cup of coffee or not, the monied influences represented by the huge majority of lobbyists will still continue to get their way. And the rubes in the teabag movement will continue to carry water for them. 

by Lamar Parmentel



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