Friday, March 03, 2006

Ethics Reform? Not Exactly

Now that attention has been diverted away from Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay by Vice Presidential shooting incidents, foreign state management of our ports, and videos proving the mendacity of the Emperor, Congress isn't quite so interested in ethics reform. The heat is off. From the Washington Post we learn that at least the Senate sees no reason for an independent oversight committee, preferring to leave things essentially unchanged.

A Senate committee yesterday rejected a bipartisan proposal to establish an independent office to oversee the enforcement of congressional ethics and lobbying laws, signaling a reluctance in Congress to beef up the enforcement of its rules on lobbying.

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs voted 11 to 5 to defeat a proposal by its chairman, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), and its ranking Democrat, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.), that would have created an office of public integrity to toughen enforcement and combat the loss of reputation Congress has suffered after the guilty plea in January of former lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Democrats joined Republicans in killing the measure.

...Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio), chairman of the Senate's Select Committee on Ethics and a member of Collins's panel, said the ethics panel does not need any help because it is already doing a thorough job of enforcing the chamber's rules. Speaking of the audits and investigations that the office of public integrity would undertake, Voinovich said: "The ethics committee is already doing those things."
[Emphasis added]

It's clear that our congress critters consider the gifts, meals, and free plane rides perquisites of their job, an entitlement, if you will, and they don't intend to give them up. As commenter Woody Guthrie's Guitar at Eschaton suggested last night, all of this is the quid for which our elected officials are willing to provide the pro quo.

As a result, the red ink will continue to flow in our budget as the earmarks are added, bridges to no-where are approved, and prescription drugs are provided to seniors at top-dollar.

Nothing new here, nothing to see, move along, move along.


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