Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Lobbying for Obamacare on K Street
A major Washington, D.C thoroughfare populated by think tanks, lobbyists, and advisory groups.
Business is booming on OK Street. Since 2010, when Obamacare passed, 30 former Obama staffers have set up lobbying shops there. K Street boosts the nation’s largest lobbying firms – Isakovitz & Blalock, Glover Park Group, Alston & Bird, BGR Group, the Akin Group. In 2010, more than 1000 stakeholders lobbied for Obamacare special interests, and in the first quarter of 2013, 500 more joined the fray.
In 2010, $3.55 billion was spent on lobbying. This year that number may surpass $5 billion. The battle for the survival of Obamacare has been joined. Because of the law’s implementation time line, lobbying for and against the law will probably continue for the next ten years.
It has been estimated 23 lobbyists exist for every member of Congress. There are 22,000 lobbyists, 12,000 clients, and 1700 lobbying firms. Lobbyists go by the names of special interest groups, advocacy groups, and lobbying groups. Some groups are predatory; others are defensive; others call themselves educators; still others say they are fighting for justice. Every major corporation contracts with a lobbying group, or has a in-house lobbying department. Money spent on lobbying is breathtaking, e.g. $4.6 million by AARP. Every major industrial segment hires lobbyists to the tune of $1 million to $5 million for each industry group.
The public and journalists are cynical about lobbyists. They use terms like influence peddling, log rolling, gravy train, and windfalls to describe their activities. Lobbyists tend to be lawyers, defeated or retired Congressmen or senators, former presidential staff members, or simply insiders who helped write or know a lot about the health law.
According to Ivan Adler of the McCormick Group, which specializes in government relations, "Healthcare lobbying on K Street is as strong as it ever was, and it's due to the fact that the Affordable Care Act seems to be ever-changing, What's at stake is huge. ... Whenever there's a lot of money at stake, there's a lot of lobbying going on…When Biden leaned over and said to Obama, “This is a big f--king deal,” he was right.”
Lobbying is a mystifying, opaque, human, and behind-the scenes activity. It is now only what you know but who you know. Everybody claims to know what lobbying is all about.
Everybody knows, for example, that lobbying:
· lends itself to cynicism, to insider wheeling and dealing.
· the surest path to influence and affluence through Washington’s revolving doors.
· a common approach to influencing political outcomes.
· an example of why making of legislative laws resembles the making of sausages.
· shows why certain lobbies are more powerful than others; American Trial Lawyers making sure tort reform never occurs.
· Obama’s special deals with drug firms, health plans, and hospital and physician advocacy groups made Obamacare possible.
· lobbyists tend to know where the bodies are buried.
· is a potent mix of money for the next campaign, insider-intelligence, and political leverage.
Tweet: Lobbying Is part of Washington, D.C.’s Merry-Go-Round. Don’t be cynical it’s an integral and and permanent part of the political process.