Douglas Turner: Creatures old and new frolic in ‘the swamp’ - The Buffalo News

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Douglas Turner: Creatures old and new frolic in ‘the swamp’

WASHINGTON – President Trump, so-called, had his silly “drain the swamp” slogan slapped back at him by one of the Republican congressmen who refused to vote for his jerry-built scheme to replace Obamacare.

“It didn’t take long for the swamp to drain Donald Trump,” tweeted Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., after the president threatened to defeat in next year’s election members of Amash’s Freedom Caucus who blocked the bill.

The swamp in Trump’s mind, so-called, is the Washington establishment: the lobbyists, lawyers and hangers on who are allegedly ruining the country.

There are any number of problems associated with Trump’s exploitation of this slogan. First, of course, is that he himself is a special interest from his refusal to divest his holdings in Trumpworld to naming persons with raging special interests to key government posts.

Another problem is knowing how big “the swamp” is. In reality, no one knows. One of the fictions promoted by Republicans is that private contractors perform government jobs cheaper and better than government workers, even uniformed soldiers.

In addition to fighting our secret wars, they do research and paint buildings.

The last time – the last time, in all seriousness – anyone tried to find out how many private contractors there are, and what they are paid, was two years ago.

Then Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., now Sen. Van Hollen, asked the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO replied it didn’t know. One of the largest employers of private contractors is the Defense Department. The DoD has never been audited in its 70-year existence, and probably never will be.

The size of the lobbying community might as well be a state secret. No one has ever gone to prison for falsifying his own lobbying disclosure forms. The laws governing lobbyists are strict but they are never enforced, even the ones affecting lobbying for a foreign government.

So the numbers of lawyers in Washington might be a clue. Some lawyers register as lobbyists, but many don’t. In a show of transparency, the American Bar Association shares a survey on the number of lawyers in Washington. Six years ago.

The survey said one in 12 city residents is a lawyer. This, according to an analysis by the WashingtonExaminer.com, using federal census and ABA data.

“The only growth industry here is representation” that is influencing the government, a powerful lobbyist told me a year ago in confidence. The man claimed he had raised tens of millions to help win Senate confirmation of conservative Supreme Court justices.

I thought this claim must have been the wine talking. But a new report by the watchdog blog OpenSecrets.org tracked anonymous gifts of up to $15 million that has been raised to pressure the Senate into confirming Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, appellate judge Neil Gorsuch.

It’s as though special interests are standing in line now to give secret money for conservative causes, be it confirmation of a judge, the revocation by Trump of a rule that banned the dumping of poisonous sludge into coal country streams, to relaxing test standards on new drugs by the Food & Drug Administration.

All this is made possible by the 2010 Supreme Court ruling Citizens United vs Federal Election Commission. This, as we have said, made these secret bulk gifts of money legal. This is the new administrative state.

This city's population has ballooned to nearly 700,000 – besting its size during World War II. The region is now the seventh largest metro. Nothing is made here, except influence and secrets.

Readers of newspapers, citizens with knowledge of American history, understand this situation is blatantly corrupt. The rest….?

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