The US lobbying bonanza

The successful Republican drive to overhaul the tax code in 2017, resulted in a bonanza of business for Washington’s law and lobby firms. Bolstered by GOP control of Washington, lobbyists saw their business explode grow last year. The prospect of tax legislation and regulatory reform was the big reason why.

The 20 largest lobbying firms took in a total of $368 million in lobbying revenue last year, a 15 percent increase over 2016, according to “The Hill”. Akin Gump, which has about 200 lobbying clients, remained the top-earning K Street firm in 2017, taking in almost $39 million for its advocacy work. The revenue of law and lobbying firm Hogan Lovells jumped 45 percent in the last three months of 2017 compared with osame period the year before. Hogan Lovells took in $11.44 million for its lobbying work last year, working for clients such as Nissan, Xcel Energy and TPG Capital, a giant private equity firm. Ernst & Young, who specializes in tax issues brought in almost $4.5 million in the three-month period, while the revenue of the exclusively Republican BGR Group rose 53% the last three months of 2017.

An analysis from Public Citizen, a government watchdog group, showed that more than half of all the registered lobbyists in Washington worked on tax reform, which equates to upwards of 6,000 people pounding the marble on Capitol Hill, catering to clients trying to capitalize on the sweeping regulatory reforms (or, rather, abolitions) and tax give-aways that will surely bust the federal budget.

When those outside Washington refer to the “swamp” many refer to this disagreeable business of lobbying. There is nothing wrong with lobbying by citizens – I have done it (once in the US and once in the UK) myself; it is part and parcel of democracy. But the huge value of the bucks at stake and the obscene level of remuneration of a handful of connected lawyers and hangers-on has enhanced, not democracy but oligarchy, shoveling money into the pockets of special interests and the already-rich, undermining democracy, and bringing it into disrepute. The average voter gives up, concluding the the system is rigged. Well, it is!

No apologies for this political post. This is exzctly why Epicurus despised the hypocrisy of politicians and their financial enablers. (Statistics from The Hill)

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