1/22/2006

Crash of the Titans - Washington DC feeling Abramoff's demise

Oh the horror! NOT! -- law Abramoff's restaurant, Signatures, is not the only one going into the tank. Many Senators, Representatives, and staffers are acting pre-emptively and declining to eat with lobbyists at Charlie Palmer's, Capitol Grill

Crash of the Titans - by Larry Johnson

I realize this is outside my normal lane of expertise, but the pain (and joy?) is real.

As Scooby Doo says, "Roh Roh" (i.e., dog speak for OH MY GOD!), the Abramoff scandal damage is spreading big time and the DC economy is likely to be one of the unintended victims. Are we talking recession in the future? I'm not crying crocodile tears for lobbyists and, like prostitution, it does provide a public service (one that many, like hooking, find objectionable).

I have some friends who are big time players in the lobbying industry. They tell me that they are starting to unload baseball tickets to the Orioles and Nationals, boxes and suites at the MCI Center (home to the hockey Caps and the basketball Wizards), and seats at FedEx field, home of the Redskins. I will admint there is a silver lining here for me; I may snag my lobbyist buddy's National's season tickets. This is one way to get front row box seats to the ball game.

The restaurant scene is equally grim. Abramoff's restaurant, Signatures, is not the only one going into the tank. Many Senators, Representatives, and staffers are acting pre-emptively and declining to eat with lobbyists at Charlie Palmer's, Capitol Grill, and the Palm.

What does this mean?

The restaurant explosion, particularly the growth of high dollar steakhouses, will come to a screeching halt. Fewer restaurants, fewer jobs. The middle to low income segments of DC will bear the bulk of this burden, but so too will some cats accustomed to six figure salaries. We may be looking at the lobbyist equivalent of the collapse of the internet bubble. With fewer six figure salaries the demand for housing and office space in the District and the neighboring counties in Maryland and Virginia will also cool.

Unfortunately, all of the posturing appears to be cosmetic. While our elected representatives will now eschew meals with those "nasty" lobbyists they will still break bread as long as the lobbyist shows up with an envelope stuffed with $10,000. A "fund raiser" meal is still kosher. Regular eating ain't. But, who is going to pay lobbyists big bucks if the Congress decides to ban earmarking and other ways of tickling the legislative process?

So, hang on boys and girls. The baby and the bath water are headed out the door, but it is far from certain that anyone will get clean in the process.

Booman Tribune ~ Crash of the Titans

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