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Lobbyist: Businesses Don’t Do Enough Lobbying

Every once in a while you read something that is so staggeringly out of touch with reality that you fear it may rip a hole in the space-time continuum and cause that total protonic reversal thing from Ghostbusters. Please turn off your irony meters before reading this:

Most business people, it’s safe to say, don’t much like Washington, D.C., and what goes on in the nation’s official halls of power. They are loathe to get involved in lobbying Congress and the White House.

That’s a mistake, says Larry Meyers.

“We’re seeing fewer large issues working through Congress today,” said Meyers, president of D.C.-based Meyers and Associates, which for three decades has represented businesses, trade associations, universities and municipalities. “Business needs to be more involved. They don’t get involved early enough in the process. The environment, labor and foreign interest groups are here every day working, very busy.”

Do not adjust your screen. You actually read that. Because apparently $3.28 billion dollars in 2012 alone — and that doesn’t even count the $2 billion in campaign contributions spent by the two presidential campaigns, or all of the money spend on races for the U.S. Senate and House or state legislative, executive or judicial races. Or all the money spent on third party organizations to influence all of those elections — just isn’t enough.

And corporate spending dwarfed spending by environmental and labor groups by a huge amount. Environmental groups spent a paltry $16.2 million lobbying and $4.4 million on contributions in 2012. Unions spent $45.4 million on lobbying and $65.2 million on contributions. Out of more than $3 billion spent on lobbying and billions more on contributions and outside spending. The idea that environmental and labor groups are outspending corporations is breathtakingly idiotic.

Comments

  1. howard says

    This is why they can’t afford to give their followers the idea that facts can be checked, or anything like that. Because checking your facts would mean admitting you’re not only wrong, but frighteningly counter-factual all the time.

    Reality has a well-known liberal bias….

  2. glodson says

    I guess they just don’t spend enough billions of dollars to make their really shitty ideas laws.

  3. Paulino says

    I believe that lobbyist will prove to be the ultimate cause of the next collapse of civilization.

  4. says

    Is there an argument for why lobbying shouldn’t be illegal?

    Why should anyone be allowed to pay a legislator to create and/or support legislation in their favor?

  5. says

    Gretchen wrote:

    Is there an argument for why lobbying shouldn’t be illegal?

    Why should anyone be allowed to pay a legislator to create and/or support legislation in their favor?

    Lobbying is distinct from campaign contributions, though of course lobbyists do control a lot of the contributions and part of what they do is make promises that if a legislator does X, it will be viewed favorably by his employers (to put it nicely). But lobbying goes on apart from potential contributions as well. When Michael De Dora from CFI goes to Capitol Hill, meets with legislators to urge them to vote for or against a bill, he’s lobbying. But he can’t really make any promises that doing so might lead to contributions because CFI doesn’t have the money, doesn’t have a PAC, and so forth. Of course, the more money a lobbyist can control or influence, the more likely they are to get a receptive audience.

  6. Michael Heath says

    I do think some sectors don’t lobby enough, e.g., construction (too fragmented) and the tech sector (young, idealistic, and naive though quickly maturing). We’ve got an emergent global economy which is increasingly dynamic and complex, where we also observe countries and even regions with different sets of regulatory schemes and private business marketing strategies. That requires government intervention in the economy if care about growth and security.

    The root cause problem here isn’t necessarily the volume of lobbying, but instead a populace which is functionally illiterate in economics, history, science, critical thinking, and government where we vote and advocate in spite of our ignorance.

    Of course I acknowledge the fact that lobbying can and frequently harms both the national interest and humanity in general. But I think limiting or prohibiting business speech and petition while avoiding corrective actions on the primary root cause problems would result in a weaker economy, both domestically and our ability to compete globally.

    We can fix this problem if we address root causes where of course there are defective laws related to lobbying; but tamping down on a symptom alone creates new symptoms, often with both unintentional and unimagined bad consequences. That’s relevant here since we need Congress and the Executive branch interacting with businesses to understand their perspective, where I observe government illiteracy to business dynamics being one reason we get piss poor policy.

  7. says

    A lobbyist urging that businesses spend more money on lobbying? It sounds like he is just trying to drum up his own business … sort of like a lawyer saying that, gosh darn it, people just don’t sue their friends, family and neighbors enough.

    The surprising thing is how blatently he went about it … and what that says of his opinion of the intelligence of his clients.

  8. naturalcynic says

    This may be the most positive evidence about the innate goodness of politicians. Otherwise, why would it take so much money to do the wrong thing compared with the amount that is spent on the side of the angels.

  9. jameshanley says

    I’ll play devil’s advocate here. Given the potential gains available from rent-seeking activity, in fact we don’t see as much of it as we would predict from an economic/rational choice perspective. Michael Heath may provide part of the explanation for why. So in one sense, the guy is right–businesses aren’t lobbying to their full potential.

    Let’s just hope they never do.

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