Many liberals correctly perceive that the so-called centrists in the Democratic Party tend to be the lawmakers most friendly with industry. They then draw this correlation: the further Right you are, the more lobbyist-friendly you are.
But that’s like someone in the Southern Hemisphere concluding that whenever you go North, it gets warmer — it’s true until you cross the equator.
In Congress, as a general rule, the closer you are to the middle, the more likely you are to do industry bidding.
So, when liberals look for reasonable, cooperative Republicans, they often find folks firmly embedded in the K Street wing of the GOP.
For example check out this piece from the liberal TPM: “The 5 GOP Senators Most Likely to Work With Democrats.”
The list: Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham, Lisa Murkowski, Dean Heller, and Mark Kirk.
- Four of the five (all except Heller) voted for the Wall Street bailout in 2008.
- All four who were in Congress supported the Medicare Part D expansion Obama tagged in his campaign as cronyism and game-playing.
- All four who voted on reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank — which Obama used to call “little more than a fund for corporate welfare” — voted for corporate welfare.
Murkowski was the first big beneficiary of post Citizens United corporate money in politics, having hauled in big checks from the corporations in Alaska she was sending taxpayer money to, and who were hiring up her staffers and donors as lobbyists. She’s proven her independence from party leadership — can she be independent from the Alaska Mafia of revolving-door lobbyists?
Kirk, in his 2010 election, was the top recipient of money from the private-equity industry, the securities and investment industry, the medical supply industry, and others, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Now, it’s not across the board. All four of Kapur’s Republicans voted to kill the corporate-welfare sugar program this year, and Kirk and Murkowski last year took a stand against SOPA/PIPA.
This is just something for liberals and the major media to keep in mind: Sometimes the guys in the middle of the road are there because it’s the best path to campaign contributions and an eventual lobbying job. You can hold centrism as a virtue, but it’s hard if you’re also going to inveigh against special interests.