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Friday, June 14, 2024

Jim Jaffe: Lobbyists Win Again


Among the biggest winners in this week’s elections were members of the only group that also got a lift from the 2008 election – America’s lobbyists.

They make money when clients sense the political environment is changing. Whether it is becoming increasingly friendly or hostile – which isn’t entirely clear for some groups like those on Wall Street — doesn’t really matter. For lobbyists the mere suggestion of change makes the cash register ring.

This point was confirmed to me during the last presidential campaign when a lobbyist from New York who was personally committed to Hillary Clinton acknowledged that the election of Barack Obama would be more professionally advantageous to him because Obama promised greater change. Apparently most voters in Tuesday’s election believe he delivered on that promise despite the fact that only a minority believe the change delivered was for the better.

In the context of the healthcare debate, Obama cut deals with many big industries – doctors, hospitals and drug makers – all of who were represented by armies of lobbyists. Now that Republicans are promising to unravel these deals, lobbyists will obviously be needed to help negotiate the details where the real dollars are.

Conventional media wisdom holds that the election will benefit Republican lobbyists, which is true, at the expense of Democratic ones, which is probably untrue. That’s because the White House and Senate remain controlled by Democrats who will have to sign off on any compromises that emerge in the months ahead.

We’re told the big issue in the next few years will involve tax and spending changes to bring the budget nearer balance. Given the fact that the status quo was created by powerful forces, represented by competent and expensive lobbyists, it seems safe to bet they’ll have a big role in the upcoming negotiations. Anyone who lacks a lobbyist was excluded from the debate many years ago.

On Capitol Hill there’s an appreciation for the role lobbyists play and an understanding not subverted by anti-revolving door rules that he who is lobbied today may well be lobbying tomorrow. That’s a partial explanation for what little civility still remains within the legislative branch.

Because it is so highly regulated, the gambling industry has always had a major lobbying presence. Its basic success and the success of communities where gambling is a major economic force, is based on the reality that, notwithstanding temporary runs of luck, the house always wins.

Despite shared rhetoric from Barack Obama and the Tea Party folks about changing the way things are done in Washington, lobbying remains our house that always wins.

From The Huffington Post