A few months ago, House Republicans launched an effort called Americans Speaking Out, which purports to give average Americans the ability to offer their input on what Congress should do. It became quickly apparent that the enterprise was little more than a taxpayer-funded PR gimmick to help Republicans market their agenda for this fall’s elections, even as they ignored any ideas they didn’t already support.
Now, under the banner of Americans Speaking Out, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) has summoned advice from those who he truly seems interested in listening to: lobbyists. Roll Call reports that Boehner has invited “senior Republican lobbyists and top officials from several large trade groups” to a meeting at Boehner’s office to discuss “their suggestions for a new GOP agenda”:
The meeting is part of the House leaders’ initiative called America Speaking Out, which is intended to draw broad input to create a new policy agenda for the party to launch in the fall.
An e-mail invitation sent to more than 20 trade representatives and obtained by Roll Call summoned guests to Boehner’s second-floor office on July 16 “to discuss House Republican efforts to produce a new policy agenda with a small group of trade association leaders.”
Invitees included Dan Danner, head of the National Federation of Independent Business; Bruce Josten, top lobbyist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Jay Timmons of the National Association of Manufacturers; and Joe Stanton of the National Association of Home Builders.
A spokesperson for Americans Speaking Out defended the meeting, saying it was important to meet with large employers. But this is hardly the first time Boehner and his colleagues have run to lobbyists for help coming up with ideas.
As the Wonk Room’s Pat Garofalo has documented, congressional Republicans have “organized a pow-wow with lobbyists in order to devise a strategy” for nearly every piece of major legislation over the past year, from health care reform, to Wall Street reform, to climate change, to a jobs bill.