In Defense of the K Street Project

When it comes to "inside baseball," you can’t get much more inside than the current brouhaha over the now-infamous "K Street Project" run by longtime conservative activist Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform – which is actually located on L Street, not K Street.  "K Street" refers to the corridor of fancy high-rise office buildings in Washington, D.C., which are populated with Gucci-wearing lobbyists of every make, size, shape and fashion.  K Street is to the federal government what Wall Street is to financial markets.

Washington pundits, the mainstream media, Democrats and liberal political activists are all over the K Street Project in light of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.  Even some Republicans are calling for an end of the project.  But as with so many matters coming from inside the Beltway, these folks either don’t know what they’re talking about or are intentionally misrepresenting the facts in pursuit of political advantage (we’re shocked!).

For conservatives, all you probably really need to know about the K Street Project is that Democrats and the wingnuts over at are having a cow over it and want it killed.  For example, Democrat Bob Casey, who is challenging Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania this year, rips the K Street Project as a program "to allow loyal Republicans to jump back and forth from congressional offices to powerful positions in lobbying firms and trade associations."  He claims the K Street Project "ensures one-party rule in the lobbying community and solidifies the special interests’ influence in the legislative process."

So if the K Street Project is killed, who wins?  The Left.  That alone is reason enough to rise to its defense.

But let’s look at the facts anyway.

The K Street Project is "non-partisan research of political affiliation, employment background, and political donations of members in Washington’s premier lobbying firms, trade associations, and industries."  In other words, it’s purely and simply a research tool.  How someone uses that research is another matter altogether.  But pure research, in and of itself, is nothing the government should be using its power to shut down.

That being said, the reason for the K Street Project is simple.  It came about after 1994, when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time in 40 long, LONG years.  And during those 40 long years, Democrats "demanded that businesses contribute money to their candidates and hire their former congressional staffers and retiring politicians in order to assure ‘access.’"  This presented a huge problem in that the people hired by the business community "owed their loyalty to their former employers and often did not agree with the positions of the companies that hired them."

Put another way, businesses were coerced into hiring former Democrat staffers by current Democrat incumbents to lobby on behalf of business for pro-business legislation which neither the former staffers nor the current incumbents favored.  No wonder businesses continued to get hammered during the 40 Year Reign of Liberal Terror.

Because Democrats controlled the government, they could pressure the business community to hire people who had spent their entire lives "regulating, taxing and expanding government" and who "didn’t even understand the goals of businesses that simply wished to be left alone" by government.

But once the Democrat choke-hold on Congress was released after the 1994 elections, Norquist created the K Street Project to "advise companies and trade associations to hire men and women who understand free-market economics, who support their principled positions for free trade, against tort law abuse, and for lower and more transparent taxation."

In other words, folks who had been forced to hire folks who didn’t share their free-market, limited-government points of view were being encouraged to hire folks who DID to lobby the new majority on Capitol Hill who also shared the same philosophy.

To further make this common sense point, the K Street Project points out that "labor unions have always hired men and women who share the goals and values of the labor unions.  They do not hire conservatives or Republicans to gain access when Republicans win the White House or Congress.  They wisely hire men and women who agree with their goals and values."

There is nothing sinister about the K Street Project.  The problem the Left and the mainstream media (but I repeat myself) have with it is that Republicans are using it effectively while their party is in power.  And when the day comes when the Republicans blow it (and they will) and the Democrats return to power, you can bet your bottom dollar the Democrats will come up with their own version of the K Street Project and do their level best to purge the lobbying community of conservative Republicans.  It’s just the way the game is played in your nation’s capital.  It’s always been that way.  And it always will.

Illegal?  No.  Cynical?  Maybe.  Realistic?  Definitely.  To the victor goes the spoils. As for the losers, let them eat cake.