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January 4, 2007

Is Congress Cracking?

Today’s Downsizer-Dispatch . . .


* Is Congress cracking?
* Growth numbers from yesterday
* Concrete examples of how the grassroots regulation would cause harm


The new Congress is under extreme pressure from all directions. There are strong signs that Congress may be cracking, on both the grassroots regulations, and the “100-hour Legislative Orgy.”

You are helping make this possible. Let’s keep up the pressure. IF YOU NEED MORE INFORMATION ON WHY THE GRASSROOTS REGULATIONS WOULD BE SO HARMFUL, WE PROVIDE CONCRETE EXAMPLES BELOW. If you’re already convinced, please contact Congress again (or for the first time) opposing this legislation. You can do so by clicking HERE.

Please also keep up the pressure against the Democratic plan to pass 400+ pages of legislation in 100 hours without reading it. You can do so by clicking HERE.

Please send messages on both of these campaigns if you possibly can. Remember, AGGRESSIVE ACTION is the theme for Downsize DC in 2007. And it’s working . . .


We recruited 26 new Downsizers on our first day of activity in 2007, and 37 MORE yesterday. Let’s keep growing! If you haven’t used our Congressional Contact System yet, we encourage you to do so right now. You can start with one or both of the above campaigns, or perhaps you could send a message to Congress supporting the “Read the Bills Act” by clicking HERE.

We also surged forward with messages to Congress yesterday. 2,100 were sent on the first day, and we sent another 3,555 yesterday. We’re now just 291 messages away from exceeding what we accomplished in January of last year! Let’s streak past that number today. You can help make that happen by clicking on one of these action links: Stop the 100-Hour Legislative Orgy, Don’t let Congress regulate Downsize DC, Make Congress “Read the Bills” it passes.

Funding also improved yesterday. We’ve so-far received 3 one-time contributions for $1,045 and 6 new monthly credit card pledges totally $40, which will work-out to $480 over the course of the year. We’ve now covered more than half of our budget for January, in just 2 days of activity! If we can reach our January goal early we’ll spend the rest of the money raised during the month on advertising and media.

Let’s keep-up the AGGRESSIVE ACTION. You can start a monthly credit card pledge (for as little as $3), or make a one-time contribution, by clicking HERE.


Since most citizens probably aren’t as familiar with the existing lobbying disclosure law, we’ll use a few relatively simple examples to illustrate how the proposed new grassroots regulation bill would harm citizens’ groups like Downsize DC, while EXEMPTING THE BIG FAT CAT ORGANIZATIONS AND CORPORATE INTERESTS.


A small, hypothetical nonprofit organization consisting of only two full-time employees has one issue, and that is to make Congress read the laws it passes before voting on them. They rely entirely on small-dollar contributions from the general public. For the sake of our example, none of these donations exceeds $500. They send a letter to two United States Senators urging Congress to pass a law called the “Read the Bills Act.” They next send out an email to more than 500 citizens explaining their reasons for proposing a “Read the Bills Act,” and suggest that citizens contact their members of Congress.

This little grassroots organization would, under the grassroots regulation bill, be required to register and report quarterly to Congress under the lobbying disclosure law, identifying who they are, how much they spent, which members of Congress their efforts were directed to, and other information.


Next, this grassroots organization has cobbled together just enough money to hire a public relations agent to write and place two full-page ads in The Sunday New York Times. The ads simply say, “Congress should sweat the details just like you do. Contact your representatives in Congress and demand they support the Read the Bills Act.” The PR agent is retained to expend more than the dollar threshold that triggers what the grassroots regulation bill defines as a “grassroots lobbying firm.” The PR agent makes no contact with Congress, and spends less than 20 percent of his time writing and placing this simple ad, and thus does not fit any of the current criteria of a “lobbyist.” Nevertheless . . .

Under the grassroots regulation bill, the PR agent must also register with Congress under the lobbying disclosure law, reporting who his client is, which members of Congress the effort is directed towards, and other information.

Now, contrast those scenarios with this one…


One senator introduces a bill to increase the corporate income tax. All 500 of the Fortune 500 Companies decide to oppose the bill. Each of them hires a lobbyist, some of whom are former Members of Congress, agreeing to pay each lobbyist $1 million apiece. But each of the Fortune 500 Companies instructs their respective lobbyist to spend less than 20 percent of their time on this lobbying project, thereby avoiding the definition of “lobbyist” in 2 U.S.C. 1602(10). The lobbyists are given one instruction: tell Members that if they vote to increase the corporate income tax, they will never receive another dollar of support.

So there is $500 million spent by corporations with no corresponding burden to report to the government in the same way that tiny grassroots organizations must under the grassroots regulation bill.

But it gets worse! Under the corporate exemption in the grassroots regulation bill, corporations will be allowed to spend unlimited money communicating to their shareholders, employees and officers, and they still won’t have to report to the government. The Fortune 500 Companies can spend collectively tens of millions of dollars warning shareholders that an increase in the corporate income tax will result in smaller earnings, and that employees cannot expect salary increases if the bill passes. These unreported communication expenditures urge collectively millions of citizens to write Congress to oppose an increase in the corporate income tax, but small grassroots groups would have to report all of their activity for doing far less.

Now, we would certainly join these big companies in opposing an increase in the corporate income tax, but the point is that our tiny efforts would be regulated, and their large efforts would not. And this applies equally to things like corporate welfare and business subsidies.

We could continue to provide examples of the damage the grassroots regulation bill would do — even to people and groups as far removed from lobbying as talk show hosts and blog publishers. And perhaps, if this issue drags on, we will.

But the above examples should make it clear that claims by Washington insiders that this grassroots bill will “level the playing field” are just not true. Please oppose this bill by clicking HERE.

Please also oppose the “100-hour Legislative Orgy” this bill is a part of by clicking HERE.

And please start a monthly credit card pledge or make a one-time contribution to Downsize DC by clicking HERE.

Thank you for being a DC Downsizer.

Jim Babka
President, Inc.

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