Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Well, SOMEONE Is Having A Good Year

And that would be lobbyists. Yes, the group singled out repeatedly by President Obama when he was Candidate Obama is having one of their best years EVER. Apparently, the agenda of the Democrats is really helping them out. Oh, yay!

Doesn't that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Yeah, me, too. Here Obama is in his own words. I found the shortest one I could (you're welcome):



That was then, this is now. You're damn right, Obama, we DO care about "special interest dominated politics in Washington," and we are seeing plenty of that in YOUR Administration.

In a a follow-up to a post on Senator Lindsey Graham's ire over the Health "Care "Bill, this article from Politico tells the tale about what a great year this is for the K Street Crowd:
Lobbyists On Pace For Record Year

Main Street has had a tough year, losing jobs and seeing little evidence of the economic revival that experts say has already begun.

But K Street is raking it in
(emphasis mine).

Washington’s influence industry is on track to shatter last year’s record $3.3 billion spent to lobby Congress and the rest of the federal government — and that’s with a down economy and about 1,500 fewer registered lobbyists in town, according to data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Many lobbying firms have escaped the worst of the corporate belt-tightening, thanks, in large part, to the ambitious agenda set out by President Barack Obama — who, ironically, came to Washington with a pledge to break what he considered the undue influence of special-interest lobbyists.

Plenty of sectors have scaled back their K Street spending, including traditional big spenders like real estate and telecommunications. But Obama’s push for legislation on health reform, financial reform and climate change has compensated for the grim economic times.

And that’s after Obama kicked off the year with a massive economic stimulus package — and every major business sector tried to get a piece of the action.

“Lobbyists love it ... when you’ve got an activist agenda like this, and you’ve got serious problems like this, and people want to do something about it,” said James Thurber, director of American University’s Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies.

“It is the most active time that I have ever seen in the advocacy business — from 1973 on,” Thurber added.

“We’ve never had as good a year,” said one lobbyist whose shop deals mostly with financial services and health care issues. “It’s been a tremendously busy year, and it’s going to keep getting that way,” the lobbyist said, noting that both health care and financial reform will remain active as congressional action moves from drafting legislation to implementation to the inevitable fixes.

Oh, yippie ki yay - they are all SO happy to be rolling in the dough to get bills like the Health Care Bill passed, a piece of legislation with "Lobbyist" written all over it.

One more lie from Obama. What a surprise. I'm shocked, shocked I tell you. Ahem.

There's more:
The year-end lobbying expenditure figures don’t come out until late January, but Thurber and others predict that the top line number will exceed the $3.3 billion spent in 2008. Groups spent $2.5 billion during the first three quarters of 2009, which is a slightly faster quarterly pace than 2008, according to CRP.

And the fourth quarter has been a particularly busy time on Capitol Hill, with the House passing health care and financial reform bills and the Senate digging in on health care, too.

Health care has provided a particular jolt to the lobbying business, insiders say, since the scope of the legislation outstrips any health efforts in recent history.

“This was the biggest, most broad attempt at passing legislation that we’ve seen. This is even bigger or more broad than ’93,” said Bill Pierce, senior vice president and health care guru at APCO Worldwide, referring to President Bill Clinton’s attempt at health care reform. “It touches all the various parts of the entire health care environment. ... Everybody has some dog in the fight.”

And the lobbying expenditure figures don’t include the heaps of cash interest groups are throwing at advertising, coalition-building, grass-roots and Astroturf outreach — all of which don’t get reported in the figures. Advocacy groups have spent almost $200 million on ads on the health care issue so far this year, according to Campaign Media Analysis Group.

"Astroturfing"? Isn't that what Pelosi accused regular people of doing when they stood up to the way she and others are ruining our country? Huh. I guess she was wrong about that - no, I know she was wrong at the time. Just more smoke-screening from those who care less about what the people say despite their job being to represent us. Who knew all those Tea Party people should have been getting PAID? Ahem.

Of course, lobbyists aren't on just one side:
The legislation’s reach has drawn in an almost-encyclopedic expanse of interest and corporate groups — from activists on both sides of the abortion debate, to MoveOn.org and FreedomWorks to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to health insurance companies.

“That doesn’t happen every day. When it does happen, you get this great deal of money being pumped into the political system on the lobbying end because all of these folks feel like they need to be a participant, and that if they don’t participate, they do so at their own peril,” said Dave Levinthal, a spokesman for CRP, a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog group. Nearly $400 million has been spent on health care lobbying during the first nine months of 2009, according to CRP’s data.

A closer look at some of the health care lobbying expenditures shows just how high the stakes are. PhRMA, a top trade group for drug makers, spent as much as it did in all of 2008 — $20.2 million — during the first nine months of 2009. America’s Health Insurance Plans is also on pace to outspend its 2008 lobbying budget, spending $6.3 million during the first nine months of this year.

The Obama administration’s determination to revamp the nation’s financial rules and regulatory structure has fueled a somewhat less broad but no less intense advocacy business.

Lobbyists for the industry describe working nonstop since last August, when the financial system started to crumble, through the fight for the $700 billion bailout last fall. This year, they’ve battled several attempts by Democrats to pass so-called cramdown legislation allowing bankruptcy judges to modify troubled mortgages and fought — ultimately unsuccessfully — against strict new credit card rules, among other policy battles.

All this while the industry must keep up with the larger financial reform bill, which is moving through Congress. “If it weren’t for the crisis, that bill could have easily taken four years, minimum,” observed one exhausted financial lobbyist of the bill that the House passed Dec. 11.

Aren't you just so worried on their behalf? At how "taxed" they must be as they're rolling in the dough? Didn't think so:
The Credit Union National Association has already spent about $650,000 more than it did during the same period last year and is on track to spend “considerably more” lobbying than it did in 2008, said John Magill, the trade association’s senior vice president of legislative affairs.

“It’s been such a frantic pace this year. The Congress has churned out so many things,” he said, ticking off a list that includes financial reform, credit card legislation, new bank overdraft rules and credit unions’ ongoing battle to raise the amount they can lend to small businesses.

Magill said that the lobbying expenditures CUNA reports to Congress don’t take into account its extensive grass-roots efforts, such as the 5,000 members that “hiked the Hill” last spring or the approximately 650 who flew into town the week the House debated the financial reform bill on the floor.

Magill credits that grass-roots lobbying for the defeat of a House bill on a cramdown amendment, which came after the House passed a similar measure earlier in the year.

While times may be good for lobbyists, there’s a more dismal lesson to be learned from the relentless upward trend of lobbying spending that appears undaunted by even a massive recession: Lobbying is seen as an issue of political and economic survival in this town.

“If lobbying the federal government did not work, people wouldn’t spend money doing it,” Levinthal said.

That about says it all, doesn't it? And work it has. We are about to be saddled with a Lobbyists' Dream that will constitute One-Sixth of our entire economy. That is all thanks to their "tireless" efforts on behalf of their clients, who, by the way, are not us. No matter how much we oppose it, no matter how much we decry their unethical conduct, no matter how much we rage over the buying of votes, Congress continues to sell off legislation to the highest bidder rather than working for us.

And that cannot stand. Vote these people out. Let's reclaim our country for US, the people, not for the lobbyists.

6 comments:

SFIndie said...

Well, thank the Goddess that those poor, hardworking, long-suffering lobbyists are finally having a good year. Yup. Mmmhmmm. Yesirree Bob. (Be right back, gotta take my blood pressure pills.)

It's just unbelievable. Graham had it right when he talked about bribes and Chicago-style politics. Obama is bribing senators to vote the way he wants, and the lobbyists are bribing Obama to let them write legislation.

Dare I say this? I miss Bush. I miss Rummy. I miss Cheney. I never thought it could be worse then that trio. Oh, how wrong I was.

I swear, I'm going to vote Republican down the line in 2010. Never again will I support a same-party Presidency and Congress. It just ends up in tyranny.

Note to self - buy SuperLotto and MegaMillion tickets today. Malta is calling.....

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Welcome back, SF! I hope you had a lovely trip, and a good holiday!

It really is remarkable, isn't it? I never dreamed it could get worse, either, but when Obama and CO. are going on and on abt taking the lobbyists out of it, and crafting health care that will help people (while getting ready to grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens AND taxing us from the get-go even though this won't come into effect until 2014), it just staggers the mind. I cannot believe the level of flat out LYING and duplicity. HOW do these people sleep at night, I ask you?

Oh, and my favorite part thus far - which will surely be thrown out - is Reid putting in there that no other Congress EVER can change and amend this legislation. How can Democrats be so undemocratic?

I hear you - I will never vote straight party again, and the Dems have proven that a single party rule is disastrous for the country. Had they taken that obligation seriously and soberly, that would have been one thing. But they are giving away the store at every and all opportunities. I can hardly believe it!

I was thinking of you the other night - I figure the way this is going we are going to need to ge the hell out of dodge. I was checking out houses in Malta - they are surprisingly affordable! AND, there are eBooks abt it by this ExPat company. I was going to get it for you, but I don't think I have your email address...Anyway - I was thinking of you.

Aruba is another place we are considering. Get this - my partner and I can be legally married there (though we have to go to the Netherlands to actually GET married). How abt that? I say this with even more anger today since we had to go get a Domestic Partner declaration notarized for this insurance for which we have to pay an add'l $2,400 a year+ since we can't be married. I asked my partner if married people have to submit documentation, to which she responded, "Hell no."

Grrrrr.

So - consider Aruba, too. :-)

SFIndie said...

I've wondered also how these yahoos can sleep at night, and then I decided that anyone who can actually stand behind this crap they're shoving at us doesn't really have a conscience so they're probably sleeping soundly.

I heard about Reid's amendment - locking in all future Congresses to this nonsense. DT has a great post on Repub Senators DeMint and Ensign who are calling it unconstitutional. I can't imagine it's going to stay in.

I never thought of Aruba! I'll have to check it out. Although...how odd that you have to get married in the Netherlands first. And documentation to prove domestic partnership before the insurance company will approve coverage??? I know positively that when I was married, my husband and I did NOT have to prove ANYTHING to get insurance. Unbelievable.

Thanks for thinking of me! Here's my email address: gina@ginarabbin.com. My website is ginarabbin.com (first & last name) if you want to know more about me...since I'm coming to visit you next year!!

I bought lotto tickets today. If I win, we're all moving to Malta or Aruba faster than you can say Obama Is A Fraud!

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Hey, SF!

I know - it's weird abt having to go to the Netherlands first, but hey - once it's done, everything is A-Okay in Aruba! We already have plans to be there for a week in Feb. - maybe I'll check out some houses while we're there! :-)

I think you hit the nail on the head, SF - they don't have a conscience. And the ones who do are few and far between, unfortunately. Just makes me shake my head.

THANK YOU for the link to your site, SF - so cool!!! Wow! I had no idea that you were so gifted. I am in awe! Fascinating - truly fascinating. I knew you were something else from the comments you leave here, but holy cow - I didn't know the half of it! You are amazing!:-D

Thanks for your email address, too. I'll see if I can find that site again.

Oh, I will keep my fingers crossed for your lottery ticket!

SFIndie said...

Ah, Rev, I'm blushing...you are too kind! Personally, I think YOU'RE the amazing one!

Can't wait to hear how Aruba is. Hmmm, might you be taking a side trip to the Netherlands to tie the knot???

Wishing you and your partner a very Merry Christmas!

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Hey, SF - now I'm the one who's blushing!! I am so glad you found this little blog, SF. :-)

Oh, Aruba is very nice. We have been there once before (and will be taking our godson there in July for his graduation present - he is joining the Marines, and will be reporting to boot camp shortly after that). The temp is almost always the same. It's pretty arid there, though they have some of the best water in the world (according to W.H.O.) because of their desalinization process, which is a by-product of their oil refinery. It isn't as lush and green as say, Barbados, but it's mighty nice!

Anyway - I am thrilled to learn a little more abt you. Thanks again for the link, and the good wishes.