News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Overseas sweatshops good for America?

People know that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay stands on principle and bases his voting decisions on the merits of legislation. That's what a spokesman for the congressman from Texas said Tuesday.

But Mr. DeLay's unquestionable integrity did not keep him from accepting campaign contributions and travel provided by lobbyist Jack Abramoff in the mid-1990s. And Mr. DeLay and his staff were often in daily contact with Mr. Abramoff, updating the lobbyist on efforts to block proposed Clinton administration legislation that would have regulated sweatshop garment factories in the Northern Mariana Islands, Mr. Abramoff's multi-million dollar client.

Congress never adopted the regulations. Lobbyists killed them, and more Americans' jobs went overseas.

Mr. Abramoff is the subject of a criminal investigation and Rep. DeLay is the focus of House Ethics Committee concerns, which Republicans continue to stymie.

Mr. DeLay certainly is not the first congressional leader to accept lobbyist largesse. Mr. Abramoff is not the first lobbyist whose gift giving pushes the limits of the rules.

But to claim that his lobbying had no effect on the powerful Republican leader's decision-making is ludicrous.

Are we really expected to believe that the congressman opposed the sweatshop legislation because it was bad law?

Not really. We're just to believe that the Democrats are evil crooks and Republicans are the born again good guys, including Mr. DeLay.

And many of us, unfortunately, accept that political premise as truth.

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