Kremer’s Corner: Giving lobbyists a bad name, unfairly

Jerry Kremer

Many years ago, as a young boy, I first heard the word “scapegoat.”  

Over a long period of time I have seen people make individuals or groups into scapegoats as a way of hiding their own sins.  Some politicians love to scapegoat so they can shift the blame away from themselves.

The current campaign of Donald Trump for the White House is built on freely using anyone or everyone he dislikes as scapegoats.  

If you say something negative about Mr. Trump he automatically labels you as a loser or whatever expression crosses his mind.  He has already insulted the large voting bloc of immigrants and has had a few choice words for anyone who disagrees with him.

One of his more interesting targets are the lobbyists.  It seems that everything that is bad in Washington has been caused by the lobbyists.  To some extent that may be true.  

There are countless stories in the media about how some new law was secretly drafted by lobbyists who sat in a Congressman’s office to do the foul deed. It is a known fact that many elected officials take their direction from lobbying groups, such as the National Rifle Association.

In defense of this much maligned profession, it should be clarified that not all lobbyists are evil and in many cases their work is critical to making sense out of the thousands of bills introduced in Washington and state capitols each year.  New York State is a good example. 

Annually there are at least 10,000 bills introduced, many of which are going nowhere. 

But buried in that large pile of proposals are hundreds, if not thousands, that will be voted on in the Senate or the Assembly, many in the closing hours of the legislative session.

If you think the average legislator reads each and every proposed law, you are giving your elected officials credit for something that just doesn’t happen. I confess that as a former chair of the Ways and Means Committee, I had a passing knowledge of thousands of bills. 

That was partially due to the fact that many of the same bills, lovingly called “old chestnuts,” had been introduced year after year by different sponsors.

On many occasions some lobbyist pointed out to me that a bill would cost the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, even though the sponsor produced a memo saying that there was no cost involved. 

Lobbyists are not just hired by rich people like Donald Trump. They are hired by non-profit institutions like AARP, Community Service Society, the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies and the Catholic Diocese.

While some of these groups have a very narrow agenda, they provide the legislators with information on the impact of a proposal, and even if you don’t agree, you learn something new about both sides. 

I have come across some lobbyists who will bend the truth but sooner or later they will be unmasked and they lose their credibility. 

By and large the vast number of these paid advocates work hard at their jobs and perform a great service.

What is mystifying about Trump’s bashing of lobbyists is the fact that he has been hiring his own team of lobbyists for many years. 

Casino proposals in Connecticut, New York and Florida have either been supported or opposed by Donald Trump. I know that for a fact as once upon a time I was part of the Trump team. 

Using a lobbyist is no sin, yet this time around all lobbyists are evil in the eyes of Mr. Trump.

Political campaigns these days tend to be overloaded with distortions and misstatements. 

During campaign time almost anyone is fair game and can be made into a scapegoat. 

The Bible has produced many memorable lines. 

So in the bashing of lobbyists its worth reminding Mr. Trump about the admonition that “let he who hasn’t sinned cast the first stone.”

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