Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Obamacare Lobbying Bonanza

Back in 2006, when President Obama was still a Senator, he spoke at a summit on lobbying reform. His remarks were quite critical of Republicans, noting that “we’ve seen the number of registered lobbyists in Washinton double since George Bush came into office.” He condemned the practice of letting lobbyists write legislation, and slammed Republicans for their ties to the lobbying world. “For years now, [the GOP has] openly bragged about stocking K Street lobbying firms with former leadership staffers to increase their power in Washington.”

These days, Obama and his fellow Democrats aren’t exactly bragging about ties between his party and the lobbying industry. But his administration, along with Democrats in Conrgess, have helped facilitate it all the same.

The 2010 health care overhaul, in particular, has meant big business for well-connected lobbying firms—and numerous trips through the revolving door for the former administration and congressional staffers who can help make those firms even better connected still.

The sheer amount of lobbying that surrounds the law is pretty staggering. A Reuters report offers some context:

A Reuters review of lobbying records found that more than 500 companies, business groups, consumer advocates, unions and other organizations weighed in on the Affordable Care Act during the second quarter of this year.

A typical issue in Washington attracts 15 interest groups at any one time, according to research by Beth Leech, a Rutgers University political science professor who has written three books about lobbying. At the height of political debate over the law, just before Congress passed the legislation in March 2010, more than 1,000 stakeholders lobbied on the bill.

“The Affordable Care Act, from beginning to end, has had an extraordinary amount of lobbying,” said Leech. “All these rules are being made for the first time, so there’s a great urgency to have that first rule be a rule you like.”

And the best way to do that is to have someone who knows the system—and its players—from the inside. Which is why so many former health care staffers are now working as lobbyists

Full article: http://reason.com/bl … are-lobbying-bonanza

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