Lobbyist Heaven — And Lobbyist Hell (II)

When the idea of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction was raised, I expressed the hope that Congress would take steps to ensure that the people who served on the “Super Committee” did not trade on their membership for fundraising purposes.

Alas, my hopes were promptly dashed.  According to Roll Call, about two hours after Representative Xavier Becerra, a California Democrat, was named to the “Super Committee,” emailed invitations to a fundraiser touted his appointment and asked attendees to make a “suggested contribution” of $1,500 to “Becerra for Congress.”  The email pointedly states: “This will be Mr. Becerra’s first event since being named to the commission and may be one of the first for any of the twelve members of the group,” and adds, “This event could give all attendees a glimpse into what will most assuredly be the primary topic of discussion between now and the end of the year.”

Becerra says he did not know about the solicitation.  “I did not know, did not ask, would not ask and I will not ask any of my supporters to use my appointment to the select committee for purposes outside its principle [sic] focus,” the Roll Call article quotes him as saying. “That’s my position today and that’s what my position will be for my tenure on the committee.”

Let’s take Representative Becerra at his word.  Isn’t the real problem, though, that in our current system flunkies and cronies and lobbyists can do the wink-wink/nudge-nudge messaging for the candidate, who stays above the unseemly touting?  Incidentally, the Roll Call article reports that the fundraiser is going forward, despite the controversy about the email and invitation linking Becerra’s service with a suggested contribution to his campaign.  I wonder how many $1,500 checks will be made out to “Becerra for Congress”?

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Getting Serious?

The United States Postal Service — which has a long record of massive operating losses — seems to be getting serious about its financial and operational problems.

Yesterday the AP reported that the Postal Service is considering eliminating 120,000 jobs, out of a labor force of more than 500,000, and withdrawing from government retirement and health care plans.  The moves are in conjunction with other plans to stop the money hemorrhage at the Postal Service, which has seen sharp drops in the volume of “snail mail” it delivers due to use of email and the internet.  The other plans also include eliminating Saturday mail delivery and closing post offices and other facilities with little traffic.

These proposals all require congressional approval.  So far, Congress hasn’t acted, and the money drain continues.  If Congress is really serious about reducing our deficit spending, making some common-sense modifications to Postal Service operations to try to stop the tide of red ink is a good place to start.

An American Scene

America — and not just Minnesota, either — is a land of lakes.  We love to fish their waters, zip across them on motorboats, whip them into rooster tails on our jet skis, and skim their surfaces on sailboats.  We love to sit peacefully on the lakefronts, smell the watery scents of their shorelines, look across the ruffled surfaces, and feel the freshening breezes.

This photo was taken on the shores of Lake Erie, near Huron.

An American Scene

An American Scene

An American Scene

An American Scene

An American Scene

An American Scene

An American Scene

An American Scene

An American Scene

An American Scene

An American Scene

An American Scene