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The Influence Of Lobbyists On Congress

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By Edited Jul 15, 2016 1 1

Lobbyists influence congressional leaders with special interests that do not directly benefit the people; they corrupt government and should be eliminated by reducing government size. Lobbying is not inherently bad; our government is set up in a way that is susceptible to being lobbied in a negative fashion. Many top lobbyists are representatives of large corporations; these same corporations control the media. Others are simply interest groups that represent only the interests of a select range of people. They control the congressional leaders as well by offering them high paying jobs when their terms are over. This vast amount of control is in the hands of a small group who have a "special" agenda. Efforts to stop this by creating limits on lobbying have been useless. The modern lobbyist is crafty and can always find a way around the rules. Congress is very easily influenced by lobbyists because there is hope for a career of lobbying for members of congress and because of lobbyists' gracious bribes. Lobbyists gain their strength from the big size of our government and the government's power to satisfy their demands. The only way to prevent this is to cut the size of our government and the powers of Congress.

A lobbyist is simply any member of an interest group who promotes a position to legislatures. Lobbying has been around since the beginning of government. In America, lobbyists got their name by soliciting in places such as the lobby of a hotel to wait for their target and munch on their prey. A lobbyist is usually a paid position but not limited to paid professionals. Logically the higher paid lobbyists would be the most effective. This is partly because the bigger corporations will have more money to fund more persuasive workers, but also because they can give bigger bribes. Lobbying is a perfect example of the power of the almighty dollar in that it shows how much it can influence and how much it can corrupt. The act of lobbying is protected by the first amendment with the rights to free speech, assembly and petition. Lobbyists differ from normal constituents in that they are actively promoting the special interests of organizations, industries, or interest groups. For a lobbyist to be successful, however, he or she have accurate information and be able to support and defend their position and information. They should also know the other side's arguments and effects of their interests. To know this they must be aware of the legislative process, certain figures of importance, and plan accordingly. Lobbying is more than just the lobbyist's interaction with a government official. It involves extensive research, planning, and preparation. It involves attending events associated with the issue and convincing the official's friends, staff, and crew of his or her stance.

No one is better suited with these qualifications than former legislatures. Congressmen and other government officials often become lobbyists when their terms are up. They are the very best people to be lobbyists because they know the system of politics. They know what works and what does not work, they how to get things done, and in what capacity. They know exactly how to influence leaders because they were once in their shoes. Thinking of their future as high-salary lobbyists, while in office, these legislatures are easily influenced by lobbyists of big corporations. They want to be on their good side so that they will be able to easily get hookups. When their term is over, they get a job usually promoting the same positions that they advocated when they were in office. This is legal but dishonorable. It is even more disgusting when they choose to bid themselves out to the sponsor who offers the highest contract. Some are willing to drastically change their positions depending on who is willing to pay them more money to support their agenda. A lobbyist is not allowed to advocate two conflicting positions simultaneously, and are supposed to inform the public of the legitimacy of their doings (American "Code"). The lobbyist is not restricted from changing his or her position once he or she is finished with a certain client. It is discouraged but not restricted. If the public is aware, which is rare, they have no say on whether or not the lobbyist is allowed to continue to work, even after he or she blatantly made a complete turnaround on issues.

Lobbyists are considered criminal by many because of this thing that they commonly result to: bribery. It is preposterous to assume that corporations, unions and interest groups give money to campaigns out of kindness, civic value of the love of being involved with politics. These positive virtues may be of some explanation as to why cash is given, but there are alternative motives. Money is given to politicians to grant favors that will give benefits to one group of people and deny them from another. Committees within Congress that are in charge of the tax code can be convinced by organizations to make "minor" tweaks. These tweaks can mean the difference of millions of dollars and produce results that would be considered criminal if done under different circumstances. Considering the paycheck that members of Congress will receive during their terms by bribes from lobbyists, and after their terms as lobbyists, it makes sense that they would go to such risky extremes to make sure the special interest groups are satisfied.

The reason that lobbyists can, and do, have so much power is because congress is allowed to grant them these powers. Ronald Reagan once said, "The closest thing to eternal life on earth is a federal program." During the great depression, social programs forced people to rely on the government. Government took over health care. Higher tax rates led to poor productivity by the late 1970's. People began begging Congress for lower tax rates. While these social programs were good at the time, the growth of government and increasing involvement in more areas is not. The heart of the lobbying problem is the size of our government. With our government budget and spending so high, it is an open invitation for interest groups to try and get their share. Our intricate system of rules and regulations create a lobbyist breeding ground. The government is so big that there is a place for abuse by lobbying that is inevitable. Both political parties are advocating a large budget that helps career-bureaucrats. The bureaucracy represents bureaucrats, not human beings. No members from either party truly support a free market. This is again because of the control of corporations by the power of the dollar combined with selfishness and capacity for corruption of the human.

The government's function is damaged by the lack of credibility of news. Coverage is hurt by undying criticism, protests of special interest groups, and corrupt politicians. Media has formidable powers. They can effect the people and their opinion and therefore influence issues and elections. The media challenge the authority of Congress, the President, and government more than anything else . The groups with the most money that are paying for the best lobbyists, also have a huge say in what is displayed in, and communicated through, the media. Because of their ownership of "stock" in the media, their interests and agendas are indirectly and directly present. The media does not report on or observe government, but are key players in its criticism and function. They alter rather than proved insight to government. Following this, the agenda setters have power over government through media. The media stands by lobbyists and works within and throughout special interest groups to create, display, and dramatize political issues to their liking. It uses tactics to portray an agenda. It is important to be hesitant and careful to receive, react, and respond to media hype. We should care just as much about media corruption as the corruption it gives attention to. The exact source and motives behind the purpose and importance of news being presented, and the bias it contains is always to be looked at with skepticism. One can never be fully sure of "who" is presenting the news and "why" the news is presented. The exact state of things in their exact proportions is never displayed completely accurately because there is always some bias.

There have been measures taken to restrict what lobbyists can do. The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1996 was passed under watch of President William Jefferson Clinton in 1996. It made some lobbyists state their agenda, issues, and budget. It did not decrease the number of lobbyists employed. Last year, the House of Representatives approved of a bill that would show how lobbyists bribe Congress. The two parties got into a quarrel but agreed to make lobbyists state their earmarks. Non-partisans commended Congress for their decision, but said there is more that would need to be done to bring about the great change to Washington that everyone expects. The bill did not put regulations on lobbyist fundraising systems. The House knocked down the notion of a longer duration period for retired lawmakers to become lobbyists. Regulations and restrictions might not be the most effective way to battle lobbying. Those making the laws are required to follow them. This rule is called Rule of Law and is required for any form of legitimate government. When those considering making laws that put a tighter harness on lobbyists are also considering becoming lobbyists in the future, how tight is that harness expected to be? The rules and regulations will never be strict enough to prevent government corruption by lobbyist because lobbyists have those lawmakers creating the rules wrapped around their thumbs. Lobbyists are to inform the public of their intentions. This ethical guideline is not always followed, and when it is the public is still misinformed. The public is easily misinformed because the wealthy lobbyist groups hire an extensive staff to craft misleading propaganda. Paid professionals use tricky semantics that con the people into believing their lie. Strict rules are also not a good solution because there are always loopholes. Special interest organizations are extremely crafty and can always find a way around virtually any parameter set. It is like updates and new versions of software that computer companies distribute to stop hackers: it is only a matter of time before a brilliant hacker creates a crack. Limits on lobbyists are ineffective and merely change the way lobbying is done. They do not change how much it is done, or the extent of how powerful it is.

The government has the power to essentially take from one and give to another. As long as this is the case, lobbyists will still be functioning and effective. Congress takes from the taxpayer and gives to special interests. Congress does not have the enumerated power given by the constitution to accept bribes and grant wishes. Influence of lobbyists would die if the constitution was upheld. If Congress would grant privileges equally, and uphold the Rule of Law, it would reduce the room for lobbyists. What is needed is a drastic reduction in size of government. The politically "right" promise to reduce government to gain votes but never actually follow through on their claims. There is too much for them to gain from keeping the government powerful. The politically "left" use emotion to evoke support for social programs and, "in the name of love," use the taxpayer's money for whatever the liberal congress deems "necessary and proper." Charity from churches and charity should replace bureaucrats' pity. This is not to say that millions of jobs will not be cut along with this massive government cut proposed. There are countless individuals who are employed by the result of a bloated, broken government. Sadly peoples jobs rely on inefficiency, and with efficiency comes less need for many jobs. There are many lawyers, politicians, bureaucrats and lobbyists that would be better flipping burgers at McDonalds. It may seem unfair that these individuals who spent so many years in college should have to work minimum wage at the local gas station. When one examines the hypocrisy of many of these people, one begins to realize it might be good for those people who seem to show such a strong support for the middle class to experience it firsthand. Welfare would be cut except in extreme situations. Social Security would be totally eliminated. It would be possible for every citizen to make enough to save for their retirement. The irresponsible would need to either continue working, or seek help from a self-run charity organization. The solution seems harsh, but it will add accountability and integrity to our society. It is possible to establish short-term government funded agencies to help people who were laid off because of the government reform to find proper employment. They could redirect people based on their skills. Lobbyists could become very useful teachers. With a boost in educational funding, and more accountability in our schools, they could find happiness at these new jobs. These programs would need to have a liberal, yet explicit, set date for completion when things even out.

The American government is a disaster. Corporations and special interest groups run our country with the influence of lobbyists in Congress. Congress does not check the power of lobbyists because of greed. The media does not check the power of Congress because the same people who run Congress run the media. The people do not check the government or media because they are ignorant and apathetic. The reason that lobbyists are so successful and influential is because the setting is perfect for them. The setting is a government with a lot of power and money. There have been efforts to stop these efforts by adding requiring lobbyists to disclose their intentions, there are always loopholes around these. There are rules setting a time duration for law makers to become lobbyists, but they still become lobbyists and are still biased towards favored lobby groups. There are rules and regulations that change the way lobbying is done, but do not stop the heart of the lobbying problem. The only way to end the government corruption is to reduce the size, powers and extent of government. This will have serious repercussions on the jobs of American people, but in the long run is the best solution to promote economic efficiency and freedom.



Nov 11, 2010 4:06pm
I could double the words in this article and still not even complete my opening arguments. This is a major problem in the US political system. Thanks for helping shed a little light on it.
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