Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Railing against lobbying is so last administration


What happens when you have a massive and massively complex law that effects virtually everybody in the country of which the regulations for that law are still being written just in front of its start/stop "no just kidding" delayed rollout? You get more lobbyists than you can shake a stick at. A lot more.

Back in 2004, over $2.1 billion was spent lobbying Congress and in 2010 the year the Affordable Care Act was passed, that figure grew to $3.55 billion. This was no coincidence as Congress was er, writing the law, there were going to be people filing into K Street and marching up to Capitol Hill to influence members of Congress into writing a law in a manner that had their best interests in mind.

Of course, the lobbying of ObamaCare did not stop once it became law... Oh, no. As we inferred in the first paragraph, the law is merely the law, it's the interpretation of the law in the form of how the rules and regulations are written is where the money is:

From Reuters via Peter Suderman of Reason.com:

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."

Lobbying... or as the President likes to call "consultation with businesses" was the reason Big Business was granted a one-year reprieve of the employer mandate. The fact that Big Business got this one year delay while the individual mandate is still a go for October 1st is no coincidence, gang. You might have noticed, there is no young, healthy people lobby. And the fact that the entire sustainability of this still-unsustainable law absolutely depends upon them paying into the system to offset the costs that will be generated by the elderly sick is not a coincidence either.

And while candidate Obama bemoaned the influence of K Street and the revolving door between administration positions and congressional staffs and K-Street, his administration has damn near turned it into an art form:

More than 30 former administration officials, lawmakers and congressional staffers who worked on the healthcare law have set up shop on K Street since 2010.

Major lobbying firms such as Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock, The Glover Park Group, Alston & Bird, BGR Group and Akin Gump can all boast an ObamaCare insider on their lobbying roster - putting them in a prime position to land coveted clients.

Veterans of the healthcare push are now lobbying for corporate giants such as Delta Airlines, UPS, BP America and Coca-Cola, and for healthcare companies including GlaxoSmithKline, UnitedHealth Group and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

Don't be too hard on the President, however. All this lobbying is simply the natural response to a sprawling law of which we are still finding out about and which the rules and regulations have yet to be fully written and promulgated. Can you necessarily blame any of these big boys from throwing their weight around to save as much of their hide as possible (or game the system as much as possible) from this wretched law?

We knew if we were running things for the Little Guy Lobby we'd certainly be doing much the same, unfortunately for the little guy, his lobby is very poorly funded.


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