Is Congress capable of reforming itself?


Re “Culture of Lobbying May Resist Reform,” Jan. 19

Until the junkets, gifts and dead-of-night pork-barreling are completely done away with, any lesser effort at congressional reform will be nothing more than window dressing. Congress needs to realize that an angry electorate is watching closely to see if its representatives are serious about ending the stranglehold lobbyists and other influence peddlers have on members of the House and Senate.




Many in Congress are talking of changes to take the undemocratic system of lobbyist bribery out of the process. Here are my suggestions:


* No gifts should be allowed from lobbyists, ever. Unfortunately, the riders of the gravy train are wording the legislation to allow as many loopholes as possible, but any gift is a bribe.

* Members of Congress or their staffs should not be allowed to work for a lobbyist for five years.

* Infractions should carry severe penalties -- such as immediate expulsion from Congress -- to be effective.

* No campaign contributions from lobbyists or their associated organizations, charities and corporations should be allowed. This can simply be handled by making campaigns publicly funded.

If anyone in Congress really wants to stop the raping of our democracy, it has to start with abstinence.


Aptos, Calif.



Re “Lawmakers May Have to Fund Own Trips,” Jan. 18

Just when I was sure that I could buy some influence from my congressman with a free bleacher seat to a Dodger game next year, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) is proposing dropping the maximum gift that a member of Congress can legitimately receive from $50 to $25 (or is it $24.95?). How will I ever get my voice heard when I’m faced with hard-nosed legislation like this?