Jon Tester's bill and his former staffer's lobbying client

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For more than two years, folks have been using and abusing the word “bailout.” I think we've had plenty of bailouts since the beginning of 2008, and I'm not picky about its use, but today I read an awful abuse of the word.

The Merchants Payments Coalition blasted out an email titled “Senator Tester Offers Plan to Bail out Wall Street at Expense of Main Street Small Businesses” — all the buzz words. It referred to the “Latest Wall Street Bailout” and even called it “TARP 2.”

The legislation in question: a bill delaying implementation of federal price controls on what banks charge retailers using their debit cards. So, letting the free market work is now called a “bailout”? I think this gets at the heart of a lot of differences between liberals and conservatives — whether government action is different in kind from non-government action — but I bring it up here to make a different point.

I oppose the price controls on debit card interchange fees — I've called it “Welfare for Wal-Mart,” because it is a government intervention that aids a special interest. I think I support Tester's provision. But I can't help but wonder about the significance of Jason Rosenberg.

Rosenberg was Jon Tester's “Senior Economic Policy Advisor” until last year when he cashed out to K Street, becoming a lobbyist at the Glover Park Group. In his farewell email, Rosenberg wrote to his Banking Committee and Tester-office colleagues, “I am also looking forward to working with many of you in my new capacity….”

Presumably Rosenberg, who lobbies for the American Bankers' Association, has worked with his former colleagues. He's also given $250 to Tester and $500 to Sen. Chuck Schumer. Now, Tester is pushing legislation favored by the ABA. Again, I like the bill, but this revolving door action makes me feel icky about it.

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