In 2010, the Obama administration adopted new rules to ban registered lobbyists from serving on some federal advisory boards. After a group of lobbyists sued the government and won in federal court, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued new guidelines, which has forced the Obama administration to reverse its ban on lobbyists.
While I am usually all in favor of getting rid of government regulations and repealing federal rules, this is an exception to the rule. Why? Because this is regulation against politicians and lobbyists. It is no surprise that these are the regulations that actually get repealed.
This just shows the futility in trying to change the federal government, particularly from the inside. Obama promised more transparency in his original campaign for president. Now we know that the NSA is spying on almost every American who is using electronic communications. Obama does not oppose this. He supports it. Even if Obama did oppose it, there is probably nothing he could do about it.
Obama also campaigned to stop cronyism and corruption. He still has rhetoric to this effect, even though his policies and the policies of the Fed have reaped huge gains for Wall Street and corporate America at the expense of everyone else.
Perhaps this 2010 rule was Obama’s attempt at fulfilling one of his promises, even if just a little bit. Maybe it was all politics and he was just trying to placate his voter base. But this one token move could not even hold up.
Now lobbyists can go back to their positions on advisory boards, which means even more corruption and cronyism.
The Bigger Problem
Of course, even if the Obama administration’s rule had held up, it was just a little band-aid. There would still continue to be corruption, political favors, and peddling. It might have slowed things down a tiny bit, but Washington DC would have continued its political business as usual.
The problem is that Washington DC is one giant bureaucracy with a lot of money and power. The government spends close to $4 trillion per year, almost one-quarter of the entire economy. That is why there was never a bust in Washington DC from 2008 to today, even though the rest of the American economy suffered terribly.
As long as there is so much money and power to be had in DC, then there is always going to be lobbying and cronyism. As F.A. Hayek said, the worst get on top. The money and power attracts the worst elements of society. It is people who seek power over others. It is people who seek money, but not by serving others.
It really is futile to try to change Washington DC. The only thing liberty advocates can hope for is to persuade others that government is far too big and that liberty is the moral path and the prosperous path. When things fall apart and Washington DC is getting much of the blame, it is only then that we can hope for real change. But that will only happen if a good foundation is there, meaning that people are educated on the benefits of liberty.
For now, the lobbying and political favors inside the beltway will continue. It is not going to slow down until we see a massive reduction in government spending and regulation.
When the national debt and unfunded liabilities get so bad as to force the politicians and bureaucrats in DC to renege on promises and to actually cut spending, then maybe we will have some hope. Until then, it is business as usual in DC. The lobbyists are running the show just as much as the politicians. And oftentimes they are interchangeable.