Lobbyist Contracts Hit a New High
by Jonathan Singer, Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 10:55:45 PM EDT
With the Republicans fully devoted to the K Street Project and localities around the country forced to retain paid representation in Washington, it's no wonder that overall contracts for lobbyists hit another new high in 2005, as The Hill's Jim Snyder reports.
Spending on lobbying totaled more than $1.2 billion for the last six months of 2005, another record, according to a tally on the website politicalmoneyline.com.
For the year, spending topped $2.36 billion, according to the site. For the first time, during the last half of the year, spending to lobby Congress and the executive branch averaged $200 million a month.
This is exactly what Republican domination over Capitol Hill breeds: an inexorable trend towards higher and higher fees for lobbyists as GOP legislators dole out plush federal contracts and favorable legislation to their cronies. And as Stan Greenberg and James Carville note in the latest Democracy Corps Memo (.pdf), one of the most salient criticisms among American voters about the Republican Congress is that they care more about their corporate friends than their constituents. Greenberg and Carville write,
There is an abiding sense that things are out of balance in Washington, with political leaders working for the big corporate interests and the privileged, rather than trying to have America work for everyone. This is the top reason (along with rising costs) for wanting to change the Republican Congress.
Certainly, the Democrats have their own problems with being excessively close to lobbyists, and Democratic leaders during the 1980s and the early 1990s grew fat off of lobbyist contributions and corporate PACs. But the American people have never before seen the type of pay-for-play politics that currently is the norm in Washington.
Lobbyists are likely a necessity in a democracy the size of America, but they need not be an ever-expanding class inside the Beltway. And key staffers certainly should not be able to check out of Congress for a year to make $2 million before returning directly back to Capitol Hill as a paid committee staffer.