No, conservatives shouldn't be fine with Evan Bayh's cashout 

When liberal Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein wrote a lengthy, biting blog post this week about Evan Bayh's various post-Senate professional undertakings, my reaction to Klein's post was: "Good. This is right. Hopefully Klein and other liberals will see how standard this is, and thus develop more skepticism about lawmaking in general."

But conservative Post blogger Jennifer Rubin had a different reaction. Rubin defended Bayh's cashing out to lobby for a K Street firm and work for a private equity firm, presumably providing political intelligence. There's quite a bit wrong with Rubin's post, and I hope no conservatives follow her conclusions.

What really drives Klein nuts is that Bayh would go to work for — gasp! — a law firm that represents “national energy companies, foreign countries, international manufacturing companies, trade associations and local and national businesses.” I supposed the knee-jerk left considers this heinous work. What’s more, he’s going to work for an equity firm....

Rubin's tone is almost one of an older sister revelling in her brother's anguish. But just because a liberal is upset about something doesn't mean conservatives should like it.

To begin with, the revolving door is bad for conservatives, because it helps Big Government get bigger. As I wrote in an earlier column about cash-outs of Bayh and Republican moderate Bob Bennett, guys like Jim DeMint and Rand Paul are a bad fit for K Street. The promise of a cashout makes Republicans act more like Bennett -- pro-TARP, pro-individual mandate, pro-pork. Consider the Great Healthcare Cashout, in which ObamaCare's authors are rewarded with lobbying gigs for drug companies and otehr health-care industries.

Check out the actual lobbying clients McGuire Woods has, and it should upset not only "the knee-jerk left," as Rubin writes.

  • The biggest of the "national energy companies" for whom Bayh will be lobbying at McGuire Woods is Duke Energy. McGuire Woods lobbies for Duke on climate policy, where Duke is an ardent backer of cap-and-trade. The company's CEO is a top Obama fundraises, and the company is bankrolling next year's Democratic National Convention.
  • The subsidized Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta, sort of a mini-Freddie Mac.
  • PharmAthene is a government contractor that appears to have used its connections to the late pork king Jack Murtha to win our tax dollars.
  • Smithfield Foods was McG-W's biggest client last year. One of the firm's lobbying issues for the food giant: Biodiesel subsidies.

And private equity firms are not friends of the free market either. So, Bayh was a "business-government cooperation" type Senator, and now he's lobbying for businesses that get rich off of big government. This is not a good thing from a conservative perspective.

A prime example is Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., whose vote for ObamaCare may have cost him his congressional seat. But it also apparently won him a plush job on K Street.

Now, some of the Left's antipathy toward Bayh these days stems from his decision to work for Fox News. I don't find that any more problematic than Joe Scarborough's (or Ezra Klein's) work for MSNBC. In fact, I wish all lawmakers would go to television instead of K Street.

But Rubin seems to see nothing wrong with a lawmaker monetizing his public service as a lobbyist. Here's her conclusion:

I suppose there is no representation, at least not respectable representation, for those who would oppose the left’s agenda. This is a helpful insight into how the left categorizes the evildoers in the world. The notion that business deserves representation or that Bayh can broaden the discussion at Fox is apparently unimaginable.

First, Rubin's implication that McGuire-Woods' lobbying clients "oppose the left's agenda" is simply false.

Second, the problem with Bayh is not that now business will be better represented, it's that he's adding fuel to the revolving-door machine, which increases the power of special-interest pleading, at the expense of the public interest, and particularly at the expense of economic freedom.

Bayh's cashout -- like that of Bob Bennett, Byron Dorgan, and Earl Pomeroy -- is bad, whether you're "left-leaning" or "right-leaning."

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Timothy P. Carney

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