GOP blasts Dem staffer's lobby pow-wow

Republicans on Friday seized on a report that a Senate Appropriations staffer called a Jan. 24 meeting with lobbyists to urge them to defend spending that may come under the budget knife.

According to a story by ABC News, a staffer for Senate Appropriations Labor subcommittee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) called a meeting of some 400 lobbyists and activists to issue a "call to arms" for those determined to fight Republican budget cuts.

“The amount of contradictions and hypocrisy in the story below is too great to mention, but let’s start with this one: House Democrats will stop at nothing to block efforts to cut spending and reduce the deficit,” Paul Lindsay, communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee, wrote in an e-mail to reporters Friday.

“To help in this fight, they’ve enlisted their Senate Democrat colleagues and special-interest lobbyists to use scare tactics in order to help continue their government spending binge that continues to inhibit job creation throughout the country,” he said.

House Budget Committee spokesman Conor Sweeney wrote in an e-mail that the story shows a dynamic of "engaged citizens gather[ing] in public squares across the country, calling for spending cuts, economic growth and a restoration of America's promise ... versus ... lobbyists and Senate Dems gather at secret meetings inside the Beltway to push spending spree and same failed economic agenda."

According to the ABC News reporter, the Harkin staffer urged lobbyists to fight for as large an allocation for the Labor, Health and Human Services subcommittee as possible in order to preserve benefits for the poor and unemployed. 

Democrats last month ripped House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) for contacting corporate lobbyists and asking them identify regulations they want investigated by his committee.

Harkin's office defended the meeting Friday, and bragged that it had attracted such a large group of people.

“In fact, the doors never did close on our meeting. There were so many Republicans, Democrats and independents who seem to care about modest-income and middle-class working America, children and communities that we needed the biggest hearing room on the Senate side of the Capitol," Bergen Kenny, Harkin press secretary said.

"There’s a lot of concern about irresponsible rhetoric against government efforts to serve people, and it’s ironic that so much noise is coming from those who want to create more massive deficits and debt through tax breaks to the most affluent in this country and repealing the health care law on behalf of insurance companies," she said in an email.