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Morning Bell: Change We Don't Need
Posted By Conn Carroll On January 9, 2008 @ 9:01 am In First Principles | Comments Disabled
You can’t watch coverage of the presidential campaign this year without being bombarded with the word ‘change’. It’s plastered on almost every campaign sign and seems to be every other word that comes out of some candidates’ mouths. Conservatives are all for some types of change, but also very much against any change that sacrifices key principles of our founding fathers for negligible policy gains. Liberal columnist Richard Cohen’s recent op-ed  advocating for public financing of elections is exactly the type of change this country can’t afford.
Writing on what ‘change’ Washington really needs, Cohen writes:
Break the system we now have … Institute the public funding of elections … candidates emphasize banishing lobbyists from this or that part of their realm … But lobbyists are not the problem. The problem is the need for them. … The only way to eliminate the disproportionate influence of lobbyists is to break Congress’s nymphomaniacal lust for campaign funds.
This statement shows how Cohen fundamentally misunderstands why lobbyists exist. Politicians did not create lobbyists so they could raise campaign funds. Businesses created lobbyists because government was (and still is) picking winning and losers in the marketplace. Microsoft is now one of the largest spenders on K Street , but the spending did not start until the antitrust litigation against them. Redmond didn’t come to DC, DC came to Redmond.
Money is not irrelevant in DC (it’s relevant everywhere). But what Cohen, and everyone who supports campaign finance reform, so obviously does not understand about DC is that you are not your wallet in this town … you are your Rolodex. Successful lobbyists are smart people who have invested the time and care necessary to establish the right relations over a long time.
Public funding of elections would do nothing to stop well heeled special interests hiring those in DC with the best connections. Instead it would do great violence to the First Amendment by further regulating who can say what when and how. All this at a time when our current government intervention into the free speech, the Federal Elections Commission, has been reduced to an impotent advisory role  due to partisan bickering. The founders knew it was vitally important to keep the government out of regulating speech, that is why they made it the first protection in the Bill of Rights. Cohen obviously values his right to free speech, If only he respected others right to exercise theirs.
Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org
URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2008/01/09/morning-bell-january-9-2008/
URLs in this post:
 recent op-ed: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/07/AR2008010702262.html
 now one of the largest spenders on K Street: http://www.opensecrets.org/lobbyists/clientsum.asp?txtname=Microsoft+Corp&year=2004
 has been reduced to an impotent advisory role: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/08/AR2008010803836_pf.html
 National Journal: http://nationaljournal.com/taylor.htm
 Jose Padilla: http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8U1VGOG0&show_article=1&catnum=1
 announced: http://www.avpress.com/n/08/0108_s15.hts
 Iran: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080109/wl_mideast_afp/usiranmilitarynavyvideo_080109104202
 Collegiate Times: http://www.collegiatetimes.com/stories/2008/01/08/breaking__bush_signs_gun_law_after_april_16
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