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Screwtape in Washington

Russell Roberts writes at Cafe Hayek:

Business as Usual

"I guess when you get away with your loose habits in filing taxes, you come to think you don't have to play by the same rules as everyone else. USA Today reports:

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner picked a former Goldman Sachs lobbyist as a top aide Tuesday, the same day he announced rules aimed at reducing the role of lobbyists in agency decisions.

Mark Patterson will serve as Geithner's chief of staff at Treasury, which oversees the government's $700 billion financial bailout program. Goldman Sachs received $10 billion of that money.

Treasury spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said Patterson "brings significant expertise to the job." Patterson, who left the investment bank in April, signed the administration's ethics pledge, which requires him to recuse himself from issues "directly and substantially related to my former employer."

Melanie Sloan, executive director of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said President Obama was retreating from his own ethics rules barring lobbyists from working on the issues they lobbied about during the previous two years. "It makes it appear that they are saying one thing and doing another," she said.

It does make it appear that way, doesn't it? But Patterson isn't the only one:

The White House waived the rules Friday for William Lynn, who lobbied for a defense contractor last year, to serve as deputy Defense secretary.

Geithner issued rules Tuesday to restrict lobbyists from contacting Treasury about bailout issues.

Now a word from our sponsor, designed to please the ghost of George Orwell:

White House spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said Obama is following through on his commitment to operate under strict ethical standards.

And finally, let's hear from an unbiased source who really goes out on a limb:

Dave Wenhold, of the American League of Lobbyists, said lobbyists bring expertise to the job. "Just because you are registered to lobby doesn't mean that you are evil, " he said."

I would add the following:

And I heard it said of our friend Screwtape that "Just because you sit at the right hand of Satan doesn't mean that you are evil."*

*See: The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis. HarperOne, New York. 2001.

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