One of the most often repeated problems from both sides of the political aisle are complaints about lobbyists and special interests. Correct me if I’m wrong but the gripe goes something like this: Public policy should be crafted based on what’s in the best interest of the people and not the size of a corporation’s checkbook. While both sides of the political aisle make this complaint, the left’s outrage is stronger (IMHO) and they also usually add the qualifying word “corporate” in their attacks against lobbyists.
I’m here to set the record straight that lobbyists are not the problem, if anything; they are part of the solution to making our government function better. It’s true that lobbyists back-up their lobbying efforts with money in the form of campaign contributions, but in a free society like ours, should you decide to give a politician money, you don’t need a lobbyist, all you need is a checkbook.
Lobbyists have earned the trust of the politicians they support and provide advice to them on how best to craft public policy. They are ready, willing and able to roll up their sleeves and alert politicians as to the cost of proposed rules and regulations as well as the potential for unintended consequences. For example, the reason the ACA is 2,000 pages is because providing health insurance to all wasn’t as simple as requiring insurance companies to cover those with preexisting conditions. Expert lobbyists in the field of healthcare advised politicians on how to draft a bill that would be as loophole free as possible. It’s too bad they didn’t listen to more free market leaning healthcare lobbyists, but that’s what happens when one party controls the Legislative and Executive branch.
Another good reason for the existence of lobbyists is that it makes logical sense for people of like-minded philosophies to speak as one. For example, assume you own an ethanol factory; it’s unlikely that you will have the ear of government. But when banded together as a consortium of ethanol producers with a lobbying arm, technical experts and money to spend, you have the potential to shift public policy the way you would want it to go. Of course politicians only have themselves to blame if they only listen to the ethanol lobby when creating ethanol policy. So it can only be beneficial that in addition to the ethanol lobby, politicians solicit input from environmental lobbyists, oil & gas lobbyists, etc.
Back to corporate lobbyists, if it wasn’t for their lobbying efforts, there would be only one sphere of influence on politician.. For example, when politicians write the legislation for clean air related to power plants, don’t you think it’s prudent to listen to what power plant owners have to say about proposed regulations and not just the other side? Outrage at corporate lobbyists is just a phony excuse for silencing those entities the Left disagrees with so that their favored lobbyists are the only groups who have the ear of government.
So please do us all a favor and hug a corporate lobbyist, as they are fighting the good fight.