Does Congress Encourage Excessive Lobbying?
Congress Encourages Excessive Lobbying
Special interests make massive contributions to buy media to help ensure election of their Candidates. Special interests finance Washington lobbyists to represent them to Government. Though special interests have always influenced our government (as is their right under Amendment I) only in recent times have they been able to use such powerful and expensive media for excessive lobbying. To encourage a spiral of increasing lobbying, Congresspersons are taking the political maxim “reward your friends and punish your enemies” to new extremes. Disclosures of filings by lobbyists are available from the US Senate. In 2004, there were 34,785 registered lobbyists—65 lobbyists per congressperson. This is an increase of 113 percent since 2000, when there were 16,342 lobbyists. Many of the lobbyists are ex-congresspersons—from 1998 to 2004, 43.4% of departing congresspersons became lobbyists. The increasing numbers of lobbyists and related financial expenditures give special interests tremendous influence over the People’s representatives. These lobbyists would not retain jobs if they were not producing important results and leveraging the profits for their employers.
Of course, there are not enough elected representatives to meet with all these lobbyists. What generally happens is that elected representatives open the doors for lobbyists to meet with government staff. It is in such meetings that the details are incorporated, leading eventually to congressional legislation and appropriations. Moreover, there are such bewildering quantities of specialized details that the lobbyists often get the wording that their special-interest employers want without much critical scrutiny. If and when any of the public-interest watch-dog organizations or news media find out what has happened it is usually too late for news-worthy comment, much less to stop or reverse the action. It should be noted that not all lobbying is problematical—government needs ready access to outside specialist knowledge—the problem today is that lobbying has become abusive as a result of its excesses.
In 2004, the federal lobbying budget was $2.1 billion. Special interest groups are sophisticated and clever. They expect an excellent return on their investment. Obviously, they are getting it; they would never make these huge and increasing investments without benefit. Generally, lobbying expenditures come out of capital or profits. Corporate profits are a small fraction of income—typically about 8 percent. Thus, the amount of value received from all this lobbying must be worth over $25 billion of business just to cover the known lobbying expenses. For the profit to be worth the effort, the actual value must be many times greater—over a hundred billion dollars.
As a result, Congress is placing wealthy special interest’s interests ahead of the People’s interests. This is dysfunctional and creates many harmful Problems for the People. Wealthy special interest benefits generated by lobbying is in part derived from the documented hundreds of billions of dollars in waste, inefficiency, inappropriate use of funds, and unfunded obligations imposed on the States and Cities.
Thus, by exacerbating instead of resolving these problems, Congress denies the People their right under the Preamble to the Constitution that Government must promote the general welfare (well-being and happiness) of the People.