Thursday, June 23, 2005

"Because That's Where the Money Is..."

Update on Jesse James, from the Washington Post

The number of registered lobbyists in Washington has more than doubled since 2000 to more than 34,750 while the amount that lobbyists charge their new clients has increased by as much as 100 percent. Only a few other businesses have enjoyed greater prosperity in an otherwise fitful economy.

The lobbying boom has been caused by three factors, experts say: rapid growth in government, Republican control of both the White House and Congress, and wide acceptance among corporations that they need to hire professional lobbyists to secure their share of federal benefits.


"People in industry are willing to invest money because they see opportunities here," said Patrick J. Griffin, who was President Bill Clinton's top lobbyist and is now in private practice. "They see that they can win things, that there's something to be gained. Washington has become a profit center."

Take the example of Hewlett-Packard Co. The California computer maker nearly doubled its budget for contract lobbyists to $734,000 last year and added the elite lobbying firm of Quinn Gillespie & Associates LLC. Its goal was to pass Republican-backed legislation that would allow the company to bring back to the United States at a dramatically lowered tax rate as much as $14.5 billion in profit from foreign subsidiaries.

The extra lobbying paid off. The legislation was approved and Hewlett-Packard will save millions of dollars in taxes.

The Republicans in charge aren't just pro-business, they are also pro-government. Federal outlays increased nearly 30 percent from 2000 to 2004, to $2.29 trillion. And despite the budget deficit, federal spending is set to increase again this year, especially in programs that are prime lobbying targets such as defense, homeland security and medical coverage.

1) Just change a few names, amounts, and locations, and each State fits this picture.
2) Of course, all the results are in "the National Interest," right?

Only ten years ago, those who spoke of "the Party of Government" were dismissed as alarmists. "Prophets" might have been better--or simply "clear-sighted."

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