Lobbying: Your Government at Work
If you thought it was you - think again!
You've heard of K Street haven't you? In case you haven't it is located two blocks north of the White House in Washington DC. What makes K Street famous it's office buildings and occupants. K Street is lined with lobbyist and activist organizations whos sole purpose is to wine and dine Washington politicians to get legislation written in their favor.
Much has been said and written about corruption in government and K Street is the capital. It is one thing to donate money to your favorite politicians but when you expect to get something in return it is quite another.
The monetary support of government officials in return for favors is bribery. It is not only unethical but it creates a conflict of interest between representatives and the people who put them in office with their vote. The result is legislation that benefits a chosen few and hurts most people who never needed the legislation in the first place.
Have you ever wondered why incandescent light bulbs are going away? Why is it your cell phone bill is so expensive? Why do you have to buy a package of cable TV channels that have channels you will never watch let alone like? Why are top loading washing machines fading fast? The answer to these questions has more to do with government corruption than better technology.
Activist organizations and lobbying cost everyone more. When corporations lobby their consumers pay more for their products services. If the product or service is taxable more taxes are paid. The money has to come from somewhere and it doesn't come from reduced profits. Corporations build it into their budget as an expense. Lobbying performed by unions who represent public employees comes directly from the tax payers.
Let's explore a few of big time lobbyist who are constantly active.
2010 General Electric spent $43,150,000 and
hired 237 to influence 247 bills. In the past GE has been successful
in pushing green technology and convincing the US Congress to outlaw
the Incandescent Light Bulb in favor of the CFL. GE also received a
generous taxpayer bailout when its financial services division
brought it to its knees. GE also survived through lucrative
government subsidies and contracts.
General Motors spent $9,570,000 and hired 76 lobbyists to influence 99 bills during 2010. Despite bad business practices, uninspired products, and union giveaways, GM was kept afloat by a large government bailout. GM handed out bonuses to its employees despite its red ink. Its latest product, the Chevy Volt, is passed off as 'green technology” and “environmental friendly”. The Volt's gasoline engine emits 0.53 lbs of CO2 per mile. When powered by its battery it emits 0.55 lbs of CO2 per mile. In states that use coal to generate electricity the Volt can dump up to 0.95 lbs of CO2 per mile. The Chevy Volt is an outstanding example of the “green” lie. Should carbon taxes be instituted GM won't pay – your electric company will and it will cost you more.
Microsoft spent $8,831,000 and hired 35 lobbyists to influence 77 bills in 2010 alone.. Microsoft is an example of a company that was forced into lobbying by government bureaucrats to protect itself. It was the Justice Department's antitrust suit against Microsoft that propelled the company into heavy lobbying. Microsoft influences congressional bills regarding cloud computing, security issues, Internet, patents, software piracy, and intellectual property.
United Parcel Service spent $5,587,349 and used 42 lobbyists to influence 42 bills in 2010. Along with Federal Express who spent $1,196,350. Both companies oppose revisions in the US Postal Service and lobby to push free trade agreements. UPS also lobbied for bailout money.
In 2010 Verizon Communications spent $16,530,000 in 2010. The company had 143 lobbyist working on 192 bills. In contrast, AT&T spent $19,894,578 and used 134 lobbyist to influence 238 bills. Both companies lobby hard for their acquisitions, ability to offer more services, long distance, and rallied against bill that would give the states rights to control the telecommunications market allowing free channel choice for TV subscribers.
Corporation spent $12,937,000 and hired 109 lobbyists to influence 72
bills. The companies interest lie in Net Neutrality, channel choice,
its merger with NBC Universal, and other areas that impacts its
business. Comcast contributes significantly to Philadelphia politicians and to the Democratic Party.
The American Cancer Society spent $3,700,000 of is donations on politicians in 2010. It seems the charity would rather lobby on the issues of Medicare, Medicaid, human rights, taxes, tobacco, and federal budget appropriations than save the lives of existing cancer patients.
These are just a few examples of how organizations are involved in the political system of give and take. Corporations and non-profits have become experts in gaining favor with politicians who write laws that benefit both the politician and corporation.
While lobbyist are required to record their efforts, some of it is not recorded and some is hidden.
Top 100 lobbyist in last 12 years.
American Fedn of State, County & Municipal Employees
National Assn of Realtors
American Assn for Justice
Intl Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
National Education Assn
Carpenters & Joiners Union
Service Employees International Union
American Federation of Teachers
Communications Workers of America
American Medical Assn
United Auto Workers
National Auto Dealers Assn
Machinists & Aerospace Workers Union
United Parcel Service
United Food & Commercial Workers Union
American Bankers Assn
National Assn of Home Builders
National Beer Wholesalers Assn
JPMorgan Chase & Co
National Assn of Letter Carriers
Credit Union National Assn
Bank of America
National Rifle Assn
Blue Cross/Blue Shield
Ernst & Young
Sheet Metal Workers Union
International Assn of Fire Fighters
Plumbers & Pipefitters Union
American Hospital Assn
Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu
American Dental Assn
Operating Engineers Union
Air Line Pilots Assn
Natl Assn/Insurance & Financial Advisors
Union Pacific Corp
United Transportation Union
American Institute of CPAs
American Postal Workers Union
Credit Suisse Group
National Rural Electric Cooperative Assn
American Financial Group
Walt Disney Co
National Air Traffic Controllers Assn
Club for Growth
Natl Active & Retired Fed Employees Assn
Human Rights Campaign
National Restaurant Assn
New York Life Insurance
Associated Builders & Contractors
Saban Capital Group
American Health Care Assn
American Academy of Ophthalmology
American Society of Anesthesiologists
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