D.C. “Lawbbyists:” Take Kim Robak, Multiply Times 89,999 & What Do You Get: The United States of a Mess

July 31, 2012

Uncategorized

WASHINGTON, D.C. (exclusive) by Ivy Harper

In an excellent Nebraska Watchdog article, Joe Jordan lists both Bob Kerrey’s and Deb Fischer’s plans for fixing America’s economic woes.

Kerrey’s reflects his deep understanding of the way Washington works. Or doesn’t…as the case is these days.

Deb Fischer’s suggestions do not dovetail with the reality of life inside the Beltway where D.C. “lawbbyists”-  who really rule this town – conduct their business and ensure that the Status Quo stays all Status-Y and Quo-y.

@ Senator Fischer: Imagine 89,996 more Kim Robaks, Walt Radcliffes, John Lindsays/Don Wesleys and then try to imagine how you, alone, will be able to “eliminate” ineffective programs that have Kim Robaks representing them.

Let’s take for example, former Clinton top dog and now, million-dollar uber-lobbyist, DEMOCRAT Jamie Gorelick, who has pretty much single-handedly managed to prevent meaningful reform in one particular arena for years: reining in predatory student loan lenders. Remember also that Gorelick served on the 9/11 Commission along with Bob Kerrey, and that in the last FEC report she gave Kerrey a substantial contribution. See, this is why nothing gets done: Senator Fischer will side with a President Romney on the predatory student loan issue because the GOP falsely frames the issue as one of the “free market” which, of course, is a farce. And on the Democratic side, the predatory student loan industry hired Gorelick who hog-ties the Democratic side of the Congressional table. Voila! The “lawbbyists” win.

Now, once again, Senator Fischer, multiply the hard-charging Ms. Gorelick times 89,999. S’what I’m talking about, you know.

Senator Fischer proposes the following: 2. Repeal Obamacare, the Dodd-Frank Financial Bill and No Child Left Behind.

[Ivy Harper here: not gonna happen. Do you know how much money those three laws make for both sides of the equation.]

3. Eliminate Ineffective and Duplicative Programs and Agencies. [Ivy Harper writing here: Again, this is simply not doable. Not on Planet Earth, anyway. Maybe on the Moon someday. Why? Every one of those “duplicative” programs that Senator Fischer mentions has a D.C. version of Kim Robak representing them. Plus, each of the programs is providing jobs to someone; sometimes, to lots of someones. Plus, they’ve all got their original “champions” on Capitol Hill. How do you think the Programs were established in the first place?]

Senator Fischer also proposes: Implement a Process for Congressional Oversight of Regulation [Ivy Harper here: okay, now this is simply a recipe for Gridlock on Steroids; the Hill operates like a glacier in the first place and you want to give them additional responsibilities. They don’t call D.C. a bureaucratic nightmare for nothing.]

Here’s the problem with Fischer’s list: Washington, D.C. is home to more than 90,000 lobbyists whose job it is to protect the turf of their clients who pay them mucho dineros.

Including the turf of the Federal Government who happens to be filled with Government Chieftains who’ve already done their stint on Capitol Hill so they know how to thwart any attempt at reform or for changing “processes” that are long-established. And. Will. Never. Be. Changed. [See President Obama for reference.]

What Fischer will find when she comes to D.C. is that every single program – including those 44 job training programs she cites have supporters in each and every Congressional district and lawbbyists who are going to make certain that no “streamlining” happens. Because streamlining and “eliminating” duplication is just another word for job loss.

Here’s a perfect example: All sorts of noted scholars detest current ethanol policy and consider it something to be “eliminated” yet how do you think their proposals go over in Nebraska. Ask your fellow GOPer Loren Schmit for starters.

Below is an Op-Ed in The New York Times just this morning that illustrates my point that: one Senator’s proposal to gut a program or policy is another Senator’s/state’s life-blood program. Get it. Lawybbists win over all else – including common sense –  because they’ve purchased Congress just as Nebraska’s top three “lawbbying” firms own the Unicameral.

Corn for Food, Not Fuel

By COLIN A. CARTER and HENRY I. MILLER

Published: July 30, 2012

IT is not often that a stroke of a pen can quickly undo the ravages of nature, but federal regulators now have an opportunity to do just that. Americans’ food budgets will be hit hard by the ongoing Midwestern drought, the worst since 1956. Food bills will rise and many farmers will go bust.

An act of God, right? Well, the drought itself may be, but a human remedy for some of the fallout is at hand — if only the federal authorities would act. By suspending renewable-fuel standards that were unwise from the start, the Environmental Protection Agency could divert vast amounts of corn from inefficient ethanol production back into the food chain, where market forces and common sense dictate it should go.

The drought has now parched about 60 percent of the contiguous 48 states. As a result, global food prices are rising steeply. Corn futures prices on the Chicago exchange have risen about 60 percent since mid-June, hitting record levels, and other grains such as wheat and soybeans are also sharply higher. Livestock and dairy product prices will inevitably follow.

More than one-third of our corn crop is used to feed livestock. Another 13 percent is exported, much of it to feed livestock as well. Another 40 percent is used to produce ethanol. The remainder goes toward food and beverage production.

Previous droughts in the Midwest (most recently in 1988) also resulted in higher food prices, but misguided energy policies are magnifying the effects of the current one. Federal renewable-fuel standards require the blending of 13.2 billion gallons of corn ethanol with gasoline this year. This will require 4.7 billion bushels of corn, 40 percent of this year’s crop.

Other countries seem to have a better grasp of market forces and common sense. Brazil, another large ethanol producer, uses sugar instead of corn to make ethanol. It has flexible policies that allow the market to determine whether sugar should be sold on the sugar market or be converted to fuel. Our government could learn from the Brazilian approach and direct the E.P.A. to waive a portion of the renewable-fuel standards, thereby directing corn back to the marketplace. Under the law, the E.P.A. would first have to determine that the program was causing economic harm. That’s a no-brainer, given the effects of sharply higher grain prices that are already rippling through the economy.

The price of corn is a critical variable in the world food equation, and food markets are on edge because American corn supplies are plummeting. The combination of the drought and American ethanol policy will lead in many parts of the world to widespread inflation, more hunger, less food security, slower economic growth and political instability, especially in poor countries.

If the E.P.A. were to waive the rules for this year and next, the ethanol industry and corn farmers, who have experienced a years-long windfall, would lose out. Wheat and soybean farmers would also lose, because the prices of those crops have also been driven up: corn competes with soybeans for acreage and is substituted for wheat in some feed rations.

Any defense of the ethanol policy rests on fallacies, primarily these: that ethanol produced from corn makes the United States less dependent on fossil fuels; that ethanol lowers the price of gasoline; that an increase in the percentage of ethanol blended into gasoline increases the overall supply of gasoline; and that ethanol is environmentally friendly and lowers global carbon dioxide emissions.

The ethanol lobby promotes these claims, and many politicians seem intoxicated by them. Corn is indeed a renewable resource, but it has a far lower yield relative to the energy used to produce it than either biodiesel (such as soybean oil) or ethanol from other plants. Ethanol yields about 30 percent less energy per gallon than gasoline, so mileage drops off significantly. Finally, adding ethanol actually raises the price of blended fuel because it is more expensive to transport and handle than gasoline.

As the summer drags on, the drought is only worsening. Last week the International Grains Council lowered its estimate of this year’s American corn harvest to 11.8 billion bushels from 13.8 billion. Reducing the renewable-fuel standard by a mere 20 percent — equivalent to about a billion bushels of corn — would offset nearly half of the expected crop loss due to the drought.

All it would take is the stroke of a pen — and, of course, the savvy and the will to do the right thing.

Colin A. Carter is a professor of agricultural and resource economics at the University of California, Davis. Henry I. Miller, a physician, is a fellow in scientific philosophy and public policy at the Hoover Institution.

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One Comment on “D.C. “Lawbbyists:” Take Kim Robak, Multiply Times 89,999 & What Do You Get: The United States of a Mess”

  1. Educator Says:

    Fischer wants congressional oversight of regulation? Generalists overruling specialists? Corporations trumping the public good?

    What is this proposal a reaction to? Flyovers to see if feed-lots are polluting streams?

    Imagine the gall of a regulatory agency–actually getting proof of pollution!

    To Candidate Fischer: it’s already been happening. For example, it was Congress that allowed artificial sweeteners to get their stranglehold on the American food and beverage supply. They basically short-circuited the FDA.

    And this is a Congress, as Harper’s article says, ruled by lobbyists. Correction lawbbyists.

    Fischer’s proposal suggests she is listening to the interests of the few and the mighty.

    Reply

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