10 thoughts on “More lobbyists, please

  1. PM says:

    Thanks, Mike–my eyes were getting a little bit moist there near the end of your post, and I had to blow my nose once or twice–not often I hear a good word for lobbyists.

    Reminds me of one of my favorite novels–“Jurgen”, by James Branch Cabell (sadly, most notable because of efforts to ban it back in the 1920’s as sacreligious). See, jurgen is a middle aged pawn broker with a paunch and a wife who doesn’t understand him. He is walking along one day, and a priest walking in the other direction stubs his toe on a rock in the path, and then curses the devil who put it there. Jurgen stops, and tells him, No, he shouldn’t curse the devil, because without the devil, he, the priest, would be out of a job! The priest tells him he is an idiot, and leaves. Jurgen walks around the corner, and then meets the devil himself, who thanks him for the good words, and rewards him by giving him back his youth for a day….

    I suppose the point is what would politicians do without lobbyists to kick around?. i agree with you that they serve an important purpose, and that they political process is better for their presence. I guess i just want to point out that most lobbyists really do not expect to be loved or valued in public. And that is Ok with them.

    (remember, if you are in politics and you want a friend, then get a dog)

  2. Joe Loveland says:

    I agree that lobbyists aren’t a problem in and of themselves, and do serve a purpose, as lawyers or other forms of advocates do.

    But as someone who spent a lot of years being lobbied, I believe there are at least two legitimate societal problems associated with lobbying as we know it today:

    UNEQUAL REPRESENTATION. People who can’t afford lobbyists go unheard, or at least underheard. Poor kids, for example. People with a lot of money have megaphones. They are supremely well represented, both in terms of quality and quantity. And less powerful people do get drowned out.

    REVOLVING DOOR. The lobbying/regulating-legislating revolving door really is a big problem. NHTSA and Toyota, for example. You do need to regulate that.

    1. Unequal representation: That’s exact;y the Newsweek contributor’s point, and he offers a couple of ideas for fixing it.

      Revolving door: So people who know the industry inside and out can’t continue to work in the industry? Or should we just be quicker to punish people who fall asleep at the regulatory wheel?

  3. Newt says:

    Tangentially relevant, but nonetheless interesting …

    From this year’s National Journal Vote Rankings:

    The 10 Most Liberal Senate Dems Most Conservative Senate GOPers
    1. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) 1. Jim Inhofe (R-OK)
    1. Roland Burris (D-IL) 2. Jim DeMint (R-SC)
    1. Ben Cardin (D-MD) 3. Jim Bunning (R-KY)
    1. Jack Reed (D-RI) 4. Tom Coburn (R-OK)
    1. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) 5. Jim Risch (R-ID)
    6. John Kerry (D-MA) 6. John Thune (R-SD)
    6. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) 7. John Ensign (R-NV)
    8. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) 8. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
    9. Chris Dodd (D-CT) 9. Richard Burr (R-NC)
    9. Dick Durbin (D-IL) 10. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)

    The 10 Most Liberal House Dems Most Conservative House GOPers
    1. Rush Holt (D-NJ) 1. Trent Franks (R-AZ)
    1. Gwen Moore (D-WI) 1. Doug Lamborn (R-CO)
    1. John Olver (D-MA) 1. Randy Neugebaurer (R-TX)
    1. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) 1. Pete Olson (R-TX)
    1. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) 1. John Shadegg (R-AZ)
    1. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) 1. Mac Thornberry (R-TX)
    1. Mel Watt (D-NC) 7. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
    1. Henry Waxman (D-CA) 8. Mike Pence (R-IN)
    9. Kathy Castor (D-FL) 9. Steve King (R-IA)
    10. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) 9. Tom McClintock (R-CA)

  4. Ellen Mrja says:

    Gee, Mike. You make it sound as if the NEA is a way powerful lobbying group that is bastardizing republican purity. Not even close:

    Lobbying Client Total
    US Chamber of Commerce $606,758,180
    American Medical Assn $220,832,500
    General Electric $196,410,000
    AARP $175,702,064
    American Hospital Assn $174,890,431
    Pharmaceutical Rsrch & Mfrs of America $173,403,920
    AT&T Inc $150,441,757
    Northrop Grumman $142,565,253
    Exxon Mobil $138,886,942
    National Assn of Realtors $138,417,380
    Blue Cross/Blue Shield $136,317,077
    Business Roundtable $134,030,000
    Edison Electric Institute $133,995,999
    Verizon Communications $132,574,841
    Lockheed Martin $122,340,423
    Boeing Co $121,528,310
    General Motors $107,811,483
    Southern Co $104,620,694
    Freddie Mac $96,194,048
    Altria Group $93,650,000

    NOTE: All lobbying expenditures on this page come from the Senate Office of Public Records. Data for the most recent year was downloaded on February 01, 2010.

    Feel free to distribute or cite this material, but please credit the Center for Responsive Politics.

    But take a look at the health care, pharmas and insurance industries on the list. So interesting. I wonder if they have any pull in Washington? (xx to Thomas)

    Newt: Take a look at this listing of top lobbying contributions by Congress person. It’s very interesting.

  5. Newt says:

    Ellen, most interesting. And here’s a rare display of bipartisanship on my part: I would do away with the top 25 on the list irrespective of party. America would be much better off.

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