Monday, January 16, 2006

McCain: CFR Blowhard

In today's Washington Times, comes a stoty about John McCain's never-ending windmill tilting against the FEC.
The Arizona Republican and co-author of the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform legislation said the commission is rewriting the law through its decision-making process.

"The Federal Election Commission, which is corrupt, will not enforce existing law, much less rein in ... this excess," Mr. McCain said.

First of all, why do we need the "which is corrupt" aside. There is no indication that the Commission is corrupt, no indication that they are not doing the job they were selected to do, and no indication that they are rewriting the law.

On numerous occaisions, I have pointed out that the FEC is saddled with a poorly written law that impacts directly the political speech of Americans, not an easy area to regulate.

Then there is this little spin:
"They continue to try to carve out loopholes in [the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act], known to many as McCain-Feingold. Thirteen of the 15 regulations they issued to implement the McCain-Feingold law were thrown out by the courts because they were in direct contravention to it. The 527s are illegal under the '74 law," Mr. McCain said.
Well, actually no, the court did not throw out all the regulations because they contravened BCRA, some were thrown out because the FEC failed to justify its action properly under the Administrative Procedures Act. But that is a mere technicality.

The 1974 law (an earlier version of the FECA that was largely in place until the passage of BCRA) did not ban 527s at all. In fact, the 1974 doesn't mention 527s since, I believe, that section of the IRS code didn't exist (I have to look that up).

Finally, McCain can't help but take another swipe at lobbyists:
Mr. McCain said that lobbying reform measures are under way in both chambers, but that they will not curb the favoritism that lawmakers write into spending bills, a practice called "earmarking" that is used to acquire pork projects for a lawmaker's district or state.

"All the lobbying reform in the world will not do the job until you stop the earmarking. [It's] the reason why we have 34,000 lobbyists, the reason why we have now 15,000 earmarks. In 1994, there were 4,000 earmarks," Mr. McCain said.

"How did Duke Cunningham, with a relationship with one lobbyist, get tens of millions of dollars into an appropriations bill?" Mr. McCain said, referring to the California Republican who resigned after admitting that he took bribes from defense contractors.

"The system is broken. It must be fixed. And the American people deserve better than what we're having now. So you can do all the lobbying reform you want. And I'm happy to be involved in it. I'm overjoyed to be involved in it. But until we fix this earmark system, then you're going to have people who feel, correctly, the only way they can get their project done is to go to a lobbyist who has influence," Mr. McCain said.

Senator McCain and his colleagues have within their power, the ability to end earmarks--the lobbyists are just exploiting a tool the lawmakers use themselves and continue to use.

McCain is right on that score, that lobbying reform is not going to fix a system that still relies on earmarking to let lawmakers trumpet their work to constituents by bringing home the pork.

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