Lobbying

Big Industry Overhauls Mean Big Bucks For Lobbyists

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Your typical Washington lobbyist.

On the campaign trail, candidate Obama talked tough about the ways of Washington—and, in particular, the lobbyists and industry interests who made big bucks off those ways:

And as people have looked away in disillusionment and frustration, we know what's filled the void. The cynics, and the lobbyists, and the special interests who've turned our government into a game only they can afford to play. They write the checks and you get stuck with the bills, they get the access while you get to write a letter, they think they own this government, but we're here today to take it back.

So the Obama administration has presumably made it tough for Washington's moneyed interests, right? Nah. This administration's biggest initiatives have, in fact, been quite good for the city's lobbyists:

The year is off to a good start for K Street, with eight of the 10 most successful lobbying shops bringing in more revenue during the first half of 2010 than during the same period last year.

The financial services overhaul, health-care legislation and the proposed climate change bill helped generate more than $128 million in lobbying revenue for these firms since the beginning of the year, with half posting double-digit gains. [bold added]

As the bold text indicates, industry-specific regulations are particularly ripe for lobbyist intervention: The more rules you make, and the more provisions you give the various business interests to fight over, the more you empower and enrich professional advocates who can get access for their clients.

There's a pretty clear contradiction here between the administration's governing strategy and its rhetoric. On one hand, Obama and his allies have put forward legislation that starts from the assumption that the government should heavily involve itself in myriad aspects of how a number of major industries (health care, the financial and energy sectors) do business. On the other hand, those same folks have, at least in their public rhetoric, been incredibly critical of lobbying and industry influence. But the legislation they've put forward has been far-reaching and complex enough that increased industry pressure and influence is more or less inevitable. You need on-the-ground industry expertise to craft the rules. You need industry buy-in to build political support. And you mess with practices that are profitable enough that it's worth it to hire armies of expensive advocates to defend them. 

If the folks in the administration want to regulate every minute aspect of a major industry, that's one thing. But I'm tired of Obama and his supporters pretending that doing so won't greatly increase the power of the Washington lobbying class in the process. 

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  1. “The more rules you make, and the more provisions you give the various business interests to fight over, the more you empower and enrich professional advocates who can get access for their clients.”

    I appreciate this as an argument, but not an inevitable fact (as it doesn’t allow for the possibility that lobbying can be ultimately unsuccessful).

    William Graham Sumner made a similar point a century ago. He said “hey, you think plutocrats have too much power? Then keep government small, because if government is big who do you think is going to have more control over it? That’s right, plutocrats.”

    1. but not an inevitable fact (as it doesn’t allow for the possibility that lobbying can be ultimately unsuccessful)

      I disagree; imagine your lobbying efforts failed and an opposing special interest got to write the legislation. Are you really going to quit the field of battle and spend less on lobbying? Or are you likely to spend more?

      1. OK, I am wrong here. I thought the argument was that more rules=more lobbying which means more empowerment of the clients of lobbyists. That’s not inevitable (though I concede it is likely). But upon a closer reading prompted by tarran’s post I see it simply says more rules will lead to lobbyists themselves being empowered and enriched. Yeah, that probably is an iron law…

    2. “Then keep government small, because if government is big who do you think is going to have more control over it? That’s right, plutocrats.”

      What a load of shit. If it is a smaller government, that control will mean a lot less. A small piece of a huge pie is worth more than an entire small pie.

      1. John, why do you disagree with this? I read his post as saying big government leads to corporatism. I don’t think that’s wrong, nor does it necessarily conflict with what you said.

        1. I think John just assumed that MNG had written something he’d hate. It’s a forgivable oversight.

        2. But the statement seems to be saying that we need a big government because it is the only way to make government work for us. I read the statement to mean better to go with big government controlled by everyone than a small government controlled by plutocrats.

          1. I think it’s closer to “keep government small, or else the robber barons will control it” than advocating big government. I think you were reading a little fast in this case, but then, you don’t often hear populist arguments for small government.

            1. Yeah. I misread it. I have to throw MNG a bone every now and then or he feels bad.

          2. It’s the exact opposite Sherlock. Sumner was a libertarian Captian Knee-Jerk. Since plutocrats will have more influence whatever the size of government, increasing that size increases the power of plutocrats.

        3. John’s stumbling knee jerk reaction is indeed funny Baked, but Suki/John T’s knee jerk endorsement of a wrong knee jerk is priceless.

          1. Also, note the timestamps between our little conversation and John saying you were full of it. 😉

  2. Obvious consequences are not unintended.

    1. I do not disapprove of your double negative.

  3. But I’m tired of Obama and his supporters pretending that doing so won’t greatly empower the power of the Washington lobbying class in the process.

    But I prefer not to pretend.

      1. Dripping unemployment? Better put a pan under that…

        1. Unemployment has the clap.

          1. How’d it get laid without a job?

            1. I got laid much more often when I was unemployed.

        2. Stupid iPhone.

          1. You’re just holding it wrong…

            1. That’s what he said!

    1. That is nothing that repealing Bush’s tax cuts and another round of stimulus can’t solve. Nothing to see here.

      1. As long as they boost spending by unions/campaign contributors, they’re happy.

  4. All the legislation that the Obama administration has passed just widens the industry/K-Street/government revolving door.

    And what Warty said. They may be considered acceptable trade offs, but they are only unintended if you’re literally a blathering idiot. With the possible exception of Joe Biden, nobody in this administration fits that bill.

  5. There’s a pretty clear contradiction here between the administration’s governing strategy and its rhetoric.

    My initial response to this is, of course,

    no

    fucking

    shit.

    But the what is truly revolting and pathetic is the number of people who are completely unable to recognize this.

    1. Well, recognizing that isn’t the hopey, changey thing to do.

    2. But at least it’s only in this one area.

      Right?

      Right?

  6. So let’s see: Obama says one thing but the results are the exact opposite. How many times has he done this now? At first I thought he was just a snake oil salesman, but now he’s getting into blatant liar territory.

    1. He thinks if he says “George Bush!” over and over again, it makes lies disappear.

      1. It doesn’t?

        1. It does to us.

      2. If I say “Warty” over and over again, will it make Epi disappear?

        1. There’s only one way to find out. I’m curious, though, to find out why you think I’m some sort of antidote for my esteemed colleague Episiarch.

          1. I’m trying to be one of the cool kids on this blog, and you and Epi seem to be the coolest.

            No offense, Sugar Free…

            1. Sucking up to me is the only way to get anywhere around here.

              1. I didn’t know you were Lobster Girl.

            2. You’re not cool until you have a tag on SugarFree’s blog. Sorry.

              1. I thought the only way to fit in around here was to be raped by Steve Smith.

                1. You can fit anything in after being raped by Steve Smith.

              2. You’re not cool until you have a tag on SugarFree’s blog. Sorry.

                So true…

  7. http://coburn.senate.gov/publi…..b9f21b3572

    Anyone else see this? You have to laugh to keep from crying.

    1. “Town Replaces New Sidewalks With Newer Sidewalks That Lead to Ditch (Boynton, OK) – $89,298”

      Wow. Just. Wow.

      1. Just wait until you see the bridge across the ditch proposal!

      2. Back in Biblical times, when the blind led the blind, they were at least trying to stay out of the ditch. Now we subsidize their fall into it.

    2. 45. Understanding Perceptions of the Economic Stimulus (Dallas, TX & Houston, TX) – $193,956

      Win.

      1. Shit, I live in Houston. I’ll do field research for a cut of that.

    3. Here in OKC they build dozens of wheelchair accessible curbs that lead to no sidewalks. My understanding is that when they repaved the road (that didn’t really need it) it had to be handicapped accessible to be eligible for the “stimulus” funds. They even build one into the side of a hill that was then covered with dirt the first time it rained.

  8. When everything is bought and sold through legislation, the first thing bought and sold is the legislator.

  9. Newsweak was sold for a dollar today. The guy overpaid.

    1. The last time I opened a NW was at my kid’s orthodontist’s office. I was struck at how much it had morphed into a “Tiger Beat” rag for the soggy set. It was utterly inspid.

      1. It is horrible.

  10. And this:

    those same folks

    Is your use of “folks” an intentional irony on your part, Peter? If it is, I applaud, but if it isn’t, please knock it the fuck off.

    1. a motherfucka can’t say “folks” up in here?

  11. And, don’t forget that another benefit of a well regulated industry is the crushing bureaucracy that the average Joe can’t navigate. Said Joe can then bow and scrape before his Congressional Ruler’s Office of Constituent Services to cut through the red tape that shouldn’t be there in the first place.

    1. The administration is coming to terms with the fact that all the new regulations hurt existing and creating new small business. Their solution? New “stimulus” for small business. And then they make the republicans the bad guys who want to hurt small businesses by fighting the “stimulus”. Brilliant and evil.

  12. Oh, Hugo.

    All of this so-called evidence, too, was a mere product of imperialist television. After all, “there is film of the Americans landing on the moon,” he scoffed. “Does that mean the moon shot really happened? In the film, the Yanqui flag is flying straight out. So, is there wind on the moon?” As Ch?vez beamed with triumph at this logic, an awkwardness descended on my comrades, and on the conversation.

    1. You left out the good news:
      was hugely impressed by the way that the boss scorned this overture. He essentially doubted the existence of al-Qaida, let alone reports of its attacks on the enemy to the north. “I don’t know anything about Osama Bin Laden that doesn’t come to me through the filter of the West and its propaganda.” To this, Penn replied that surely Bin Laden had provided quite a number of his very own broadcasts and videos. I was again impressed by the way that Ch?vez rejected this proffered lucid-interval lifeline. All of this so-called evidence, too, was a mere product of imperialist television. After all, “there is film of the Americans landing on the moon,” he scoffed. “Does that mean the moon shot really happened?””

      Sean Penn apparently believes that 9/11 actually happened. Evidence, albeit small, that Hollywood intelligence is no par with mole rats.

      Seriously, how is it possible that such loons actually weld power? Doesn’t any rival have the brains to line a closet with alumin fold and shout “Herr commandant – the radio waves begin – quickly, into the tinfold closet” and lock him in???
      Sure, they would be evil, but at least not goofy.

    2. The comments are good. Does every internet discussion have a fuckwad named “joe” that defends Chavez’s dictatorship with non sequiturs about Republicans?

      1. Well, Fark linked to the article, so an influx of gaytardation is only to be expected.

      2. That was the first time I have read comments on one of Hitchen’s articles at Slate. No shit. It felt a little HuffPo-ish. I thought it would just be Hitchens sycophants.

        1. The Slate reading base is totally liberal. The sort of thoughtful boring ignorant liberal that tells you what a brilliant guy Tom Friedman is.

          1. I think Tom Friedman is brilliant.

            1. Well there you go.

      3. I liked joe and I wish Obama hadn’t scared him off. *tears for joe*

  13. Of course there is wind on the moon; green cheese, man.

  14. 45. Understanding Perceptions of the Economic Stimulus (Dallas, TX & Houston, TX) – $193,956

    That’s a bargain, compared to what is being spent to *manipulate* perceptions of the stimulus.

  15. Big Government = Big Lobby.

    Is that so hard? Hasn’t it ever been so? Even when “big government” was King Louis XIV, there was much commentary about the mobs of hangers-on and petitioners at Versailles.

    1. Wasn’t it under his reign that “Laissez (nous) faire!” was first coined?

    2. Na,na,na,na,na,na,na,na….republican obstructionists, i hate Bush, Halliburton, Halliburton, Cheney,……..need medicine….

    3. He was keeping his enemies closer.

      Perhaps Obama is doing the same?

  16. “The cynics, and the lobbyists, and the special interests who’ve turned our government into a game only they can afford to play.”
    HEY, HEY!!!! I’m a cynic, and I can’t afford to play!
    Indeed, a cycnical person might question the whole idea of including a cynic amdist lobbyists and special interests.
    No self respecting cynic could lobby – ‘I believe that our helium reserves are periously depleted, and this is why we need tax incentives for more helium production. I believe Zepplins are coming back, and they are clean technology….O bullsh*t – I believe I am doing this for a boatload of money.

    1. Fuckface has committed many crimes against English, but I think the worst might be his use of the word “cynic” to describe anyone who disagrees with him.

      By the way, the Cynics weren’t cynics.

      1. I see your wikipedia, and I raise you one wikipedia
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynicism_(contemporary)

        Cynicism is to an attitude of jaded negativity, and a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of other people. The term originally derives from a group of philosophers in ancient Greece called the Cynics who rejected all conventions, whether of religion, manners, housing, dress, or decency, advocating the pursuit of virtue in a simple and unmaterialistic lifestyle

      1. now if only they could deliver manatees with them, for children’s birthday parties, then we’d be one step close to space prison.

      2. OHHHHHH THE HUMANITY!!!

  17. George W Bush will be completely rehabilitated by November of 2012. He’ll seem like a reasonable candidate for the Supreme Court or the Federal Reserve, by the time Obama is finally expelled from the Oval Office.

    1. He will. And he will do it by doing nothing but staying out of the limelight.

      1. I beg to differ. His record is utterly indefensible. Plus, more people than not regard him as a loser. One is not a winner because one was born on third base and one was once a governor and POTUS.

        1. He is a loser who managed to win two terms in office. And as things go on, his sins will pale in comparison to Obama’s.

          There is a certain group of people who are so psychologically scared by the events of the 00s, they will never recover and will never see anything that happened under Bush in any perspective. Just like there was a certain group of people who where scared by Nixon. But the rest of the world moves on. The PTSD sufferers will be on the margins.

          1. His sins may very well pale in comparison to Obama’s, no argument. However, to the extent that one examines the man, and his record, on their own merits, I fail to see how he can be rehabilitated.

            Sure, to some extent, RMN was rehabilitated. But, I would submit, such a view is by no means universal; it would appear that most fans of liberty recognize that Dick Nixon dramatically stepped up the drug war, expanded the welfare state and presided over one of the greatest expansions of government in the history of the world.

            But, in his defense, Nixon was far more intelligent than Bush and was therefore far more capable of assisting in his rehabilitation. I would much rather listen to Nixon being interviewed than Bush.

            Moreover, would reading George Bush interest you any where near as much as reading Nixon? I confess I have not read anything actually written by Bush; whereas I have Nixon’s Leaders and his memoirs.

            1. Nixon is smarter than Bush, but he was smarter than most people. Bush is not stupid. He is just not a great speaker. And yeah I will be curious to read his memoirs when he writes them.

            2. His sins may very well pale in comparison to Obama’s, no argument.

              I don’t get it? Sins? What are you talking about? Obama isn’t a bad president AT ALL.

  18. There’s a pretty clear contradiction here between the administration’s governing strategy and its rhetoric.

    Say it isn’t so, Joe, er, Peter. It’s a ways away, but the question is whether empty, cool and hip rhetoric can win another election? Probably. Regardless, losing the election will be the result of the obvious: racism. That’s a narrative worth looking forward to. I believe I might just buy a new Hope and Change bumpersticker.

  19. Oh wow, OK that looks like a lot of fun

    http://www.real-privacy.at.tc

    1. I bet the paper cuts would awful.

  20. There’s a pretty clear contradiction here between the administration’s governing strategy and its rhetoric.

    Is there any example of the Obama administration not exhibiting such contradiction?

    1. Heck, Mike. Examples of any administration is failing to exhibit such contradictions are pretty sparse.

  21. The year is off to a good start for K Street, with eight of the 10 most successful lobbying shops bringing in more revenue during the first half of 2010 than during the same period last year.

    Makin’ a killin’ is my business, and business is good.

    Thank you, King Obama!

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