The Obamacare Lobbying Bonanza

Whitehouse.govWhitehouse.govBack in 2006, when President Obama was still a Senator, he spoke at a summit on lobbying reform. His remarks were quite critical of Republicans, noting that “we’ve seen the number of registered lobbyists in Washinton double since George Bush came into office.” He condemned the practice of letting lobbyists write legislation, and slammed Republicans for their ties to the lobbying world. “For years now, [the GOP has] openly bragged about stocking K Street lobbying firms with former leadership staffers to increase their power in Washington.”

These days, Obama and his fellow Democrats aren’t exactly bragging about ties between his party and the lobbying industry. But his administration, along with Democrats in Conrgess, have helped facilitate it all the same.

The 2010 health care overhaul, in particular, has meant big business for well-connected lobbying firms—and numerous trips through the revolving door for the former administration and congressional staffers who can help make those firms even better connected still. 

The sheer amount of lobbying that surrounds the law is pretty staggering. A Reuters report offers some context:

A Reuters review of lobbying records found that more than 500 companies, business groups, consumer advocates, unions and other organizations weighed in on the Affordable Care Act during the second quarter of this year.

A typical issue in Washington attracts 15 interest groups at any one time, according to research by Beth Leech, a Rutgers University political science professor who has written three books about lobbying. At the height of political debate over the law, just before Congress passed the legislation in March 2010, more than 1,000 stakeholders lobbied on the bill.

"The Affordable Care Act, from beginning to end, has had an extraordinary amount of lobbying," said Leech. "All these rules are being made for the first time, so there's a great urgency to have that first rule be a rule you like."

And the best way to do that is to have someone who knows the system—and its players—from the inside. Which is why so many former health care staffers are now working as lobbyists. Via The Hill:

More than 30 former administration officials, lawmakers and congressional staffers who worked on the healthcare law have set up shop on K Street since 2010.

Major lobbying firms such as Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock, The Glover Park Group, Alston & Bird, BGR Group and Akin Gump can all boast an ObamaCare insider on their lobbying roster — putting them in a prime position to land coveted clients.

…Veterans of the healthcare push are now lobbying for corporate giants such as Delta Airlines, UPS, BP America and Coca-Cola, and for healthcare companies including GlaxoSmithKline, UnitedHealth Group and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

Ultimately, the clients are after one thing: expert help in dealing with the most sweeping overhaul of the country’s healthcare system in decades. 

"Healthcare lobbying on K Street is as strong as it ever was, and it's due to the fact that the Affordable Care Act seems to be ever-changing," Adler said. "What's at stake is huge. ... Whenever there's a lot of money at stake, there's a lot of lobbying going on."

Obama’s 2006 speech lamented that “in 2004, over $2.1 billion was spent lobbying Congress.” Total lobbying spending in 2010, the year the health care law passed, was $3.55 billion—the highest annual total ever. Seems like there might be a connection between sweeping, complicated laws that reshape the financial incentives of major industries and lobbying designed to influence exactly how those incentives are aligned, no? 

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  • NoVAHockey||

    I'll show myself out.

  • jese012||

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    If comprehensive immigration reform can bring a quarter of the lobby dollars that Obamacare is going to, Congress can declare immigration legislation a success.

  • Spartacus||

    Seems like there might be a connection between sweeping, complicated laws that reshape the financial incentives of major industries and lobbying designed to influence exactly how those incentives are aligned, no?

    You're such a cynic. I have it on good authority that the Right People are in charge now and these antiquated Rethuglican corrupt practices are ancient history. Those firms are just hiring former staffers to make sure they have accurate information about the ACA, since nobody else has actually read it.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Don't you get it? This is a program designed by those who are truly the best and brightest in America which is intended to benefit the poorest and most vulnerable members of Society!

  • Juice||

    Was Obama so naive that he could actually believe that he would reduce the influence of lobbyists (per campaign promises) while simultaneously trying to pass "sensible health care reform"? I can't imagine that he was.

  • wareagle||

    no, he expected you and other voters to be than naive, and for the media to carry his water. His MO is largely unchanged in this regard - his speeches are Solomonic, his actions to be disregarded.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Was Obama so naive that he could actually believe that he would reduce the influence of lobbyists (per campaign promises) while simultaneously trying to pass "sensible health care reform"?

    Of course he wasn't. He was counting on a sufficient portion of the American electorate being so naive. And in that regard, he was proven right.

  • R C Dean||

    Of course not. They knew from long experience that insanely complicated rules applied to a multi-billion dollar industry will uncork a flood of influence buying.

    That was (part of) the plan all along. This was guaranteed to open up whole new vistas of lucrative engagement for insiders. Anyone who thought any different is a fool.

  • Pro Libertate||

    That's funny, I always thought the Cartwrights were politically conservative.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Turns out the biggest portion of Obamacare "costs" for Delta is the end of a temporary Obamacare program.

    http://www.errp.gov/

  • Marshall Gill||

    You typed the link wrong. It should have been http://www.derrp.gov/

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    C'mon, you have to admire the gall of the Delta VP to write a letter complaining about the end of an early retiree subsidy contained in the ACA.

  • wareagle||

    why? Lots of subsidies for Capitol Hill staffers. Maybe the Delta exec figured out the gander could have some of the same sauce.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Actually, there's nothing in your link that supports your claim that the "biggest portion of Obamacare 'costs'" is due to the expiration of the program. But, don't let facts get in the way of pimping a narrative, Shriek.

  • Swiss Servator - past LTC(ret)||

    Uhh.... BOOOSH?

  • Dave Krueger||

    The only people not represented in the health care debate are ordinary citizens. Our job as peasants is to STFD, keep laying the golden eggs, and STFU (a task that suits most of the population quite well).

  • Mainer2||

    This seems appropriate:

    http://www.theonion.com/articl.....ush,18204/

    American People Hire High-Powered Lobbyist To Push Interests In Congress

  • Dave Krueger||

    Hahaha! Excellent!

  • Earlycuyler||

    Yes, Peter, the mocha messiah lies. I think I've seen this movie before.

  • Libertarius||

    More like moocher messiah lol

  • fish||

    Damn straight Lardo!

  • XM||

    Are some of these lobbyists lobbying to be exempt from Obamacare? Just checking.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Seems like there might be a connection between sweeping, complicated laws that reshape the financial incentives of major industries and lobbying designed to influence exactly how those incentives are aligned, no?

    Asking this question is clear, indisputable proof that Suderman is racist. Obama changed DC. Lobbyists controlling how laws are made is in the past, and the revolving door between the halls of power and K Street is closed. That's what he told us he'd do, and MSNBC hammers it home every night that to believe anything differently automatically qualifies one as a racist.

  • randdy||

    upto I saw the check saying $7450, I didnt believe that...my... brothers friend was like realey bringing in money parttime online.. there sisters roommate has been doing this for under 23 months and resantly repayed the mortgage on their place and bourt themselves a BMW. this is where I went www.jazz77.com

  • triclops||

    An important aspect of being a politician is never asking yourself if something will work. It's like having plausible deniability against your own conscience.

  • JeremyR||

    This was never meant to "work", it was meant to transfer lots and lots of money from the middle class to the various giant medical corporations with ties to various government officials.

  • Jake W||

    To those ends the law will be a great success.

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