Until Congress reins in the special interest lobbyists our national government will never function as it should. For years, lobbyists have called the shots in Congress and in many regulatory agencies. Special interests spent $916 million to influence legislation and government policy during the first three months of 2010, according to new lobbying reports. The spending comes as President Obama and Congress pursue a legislative agenda that will affect in a good way virtually all parts of the U.S. economy — from bills on health care and energy to badly-needed regulations for banks and Wall Street firms. In years past, federal regulation of the oil, drug, auto, and insurance industries has been very weak and ineffective. The lobbyists for those powerful special interests have seen to that. Now these lobbyists are fighting hard to maintain the status quo. The lobbying expenses for the first quarter exceed the $848.1 million spent during the same period in 2009, according to the non-partisan CQ MoneyLine. Lobbyists spent an average $305 million a month from January to March to influence policy this year – more than double the monthly rate of spending a decade ago – and that’s a huge amount.
The top spenders were from the healthcare industry. Other top-spending sectors, such as finance, also face dramatic new regulation of their industries if legislation now being considered by Congress becomes law. Energy and natural resource interests, bracing for Senate action on a comprehensive energy and climate change bill, spent $125.5 million during the first quarter – or nearly a 30% jump over what the industry spent on lobbying during the same period last year. The legislation is aimed at slowing global warming by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.
There were a number of lobbying clients, all of whom spent big bucks from 1998 to the present. I will set out a few of them with the amounts spent.
When you look over this list, you might ask yourself a simple question: “How many of these companies and groups have been looking out for my interest?” While I know the answer, I suspect most of you will, too. Ordinary citizens have very few lobbyists in Washington who work to protect them. Fortunately, there are a few such as Public Citizen and the AARP, but more are needed if the current system is ever to be changed. The real need is to control spending by the lobbyists and passage of meaningful campaign finance reform.
Source: USA Today and Center for Responsive Politics
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