Lobbyists. Most people don’t have much good to say about them. However, do you know what one actually is or what one actually does?
A lobbyist is someone whose job is focused on advancing causes or specific pieces of legislation for an organization that hires them. This has been a practice of our government for nearly the entirety of our history.
They serve to education our legislators and promote special interests. Those special interest can be good and they can be bad.
Why Do We Need Them?
Lobbyists are almost always portrayed as back alley car salesmen, just looking for a way to hurt the American people in order to advance the cause of their company or industry. This is true in some cases, but not all. There are actual legitimate reasons for lobbyists.
The government funds many great initiatives. Cancer research, infrastructure, healthcare, education, etc. Those all increase societal progress, and it’s generally seen in a positive light. But the government can’t run on autopilot. It needs advocates for causes that are far ranging, and often forgotten until a lobbyist walks into DC and starts bothering our elected officials.
And by bothering we mean it. Lobbyist pester and pester until they are heard.
How Big Is the Industry?
This is the area of concern that most of us are familiar addressing. The industry has grown at an alarming rate in the last two decades. Much of that can be attributed to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision allowing drastic increases in spending. From 1998-2016 the industry has grown from a 1.45 billion dollar industry into an industry worth over 3 billion dollars.
One of the primary concerns many have is the “revolving door” between our political system and the private industry’s lobbying firms. This is a legitimate and validated concern that a politician leaving office may push legislation that favors an industry in which they have received high paying lobbying job offers. This nearly unavoidable conflict of interests has led to one of Donald Trump’s proposals for his 100-day plan.
Donald Trump’s 4th measure on his 100-day plan states that he will implement “a 5-year ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service.” Effectively eliminating that revolving door we have become all too familiar with.
This measure will provide the American people with some much needed peace of mind, and make it more difficult for lobbying firms to create deals which are obvious examples of doing favors while in office for a job out of office
This commitment is a good start towards reforming the lobbying industry and one step closer towards reducing corruption in DC. Donald Trump has proclaimed at great length that he will make this topic a priority in his administration, and this is a good sign for those interested in the subject.
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