Thursday, August 27, 2009

Spending on Lobbying Doubled From 2000 to 2008

The top chart above shows that spending on lobbying in the U.S. more than doubled between 2000 ($1.56 billion) and 2008 ($3.30 billion), according to the searchable lobbying database of The bottom chart shows the top 20 organizations that spent the most on lobbying between 1998-2009.

One of the indirect, and often hidden costs of increased government spending, changes in tax policy, or increased government regulation, or even the potential for increased government regulation of industries (pharmaceuticals, health care) or higher taxes (windfall oil profits tax), or the threat of deregulation of industries controlled by trade groups like the AMA, is the cost of potentially wasteful "rent seeking," aka lobbying. From the list of top lobbying spenders, it looks a lot like the industries and companies that had the most to gain or lose from government action (health care, real estate, mortgage, GM, and Exxon) over the last ten years spent the most on lobbying to influence legislation in their favor.

Maybe it's also the case that some of the most heavily regulated industries (health care, health insurance, oil, telecommunications, real estate) spend the most on lobbying. For example, in the largely unregulated high-tech sector, large industry leaders spent relatively small amounts on lobbying in 2008: Dell Computer ($160,000), eBay ($2 million), Amazon ($1.3 million), Google ($2.8 million) and Yahoo! ($2.35 million). Compare those amounts to the heavily regulated and heavily taxed Exxon, which spent $29 million on lobbying in 2008, or more than 10 times more than Google or Yahoo!
Originally posted at Carpe Diem.


At 8/27/2009 11:25 AM, Blogger Colin said...

Real campaign finance reform starts with reducing government. Everything else to this point has only served to protect incumbents and empower special interests.

At 8/27/2009 12:10 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

Looks like a lot of anti-American, pro offshoring folks up there.

It's hard to push (what is effectively) job theft if you don't keep Congress paid.

At 8/27/2009 1:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone seems to be missing from that list - Labor:

Take defense contractors. Lockheed Martin, the top recipient of military contracts most years, spent more on politics than any other defense firm in the 2008 elections. They still spent less than the American Federation of Teachers, which shelled out $2.8 million in the last cycle—with nearly every AFT dime going to Democrats.

The top two teachers unions—AFT and the National Education Association—spent more combined, $5.27 million, than the top two defense contractors.

The top five lobbying firms, combined, didn’t equal the AFT and the NEA in federal contributions in the 2008 cycle. Both of the teachers unions gave more than any oil company, and the NEA and AFT combined gave more than the top four oil companies combined.

These contributions give the unions clout, and federal lobbying records show they use this clout. Again, on closer inspection, the teachers unions look an awful lot like those corporate special interests Democrats supposedly oppose.

The NEA employs four different lobbying firms in Washington, in addition to their in-house lobbying arm, which includes at least six lobbyists. Over the past two years, the NEA spent $10.7 million on lobbying.

DC Examiner

At 8/27/2009 3:34 PM, Blogger KO said...

I suspect the high tech firms were mainly lobbying to increase H1B visas. Maybe the extension of the internet sales tax exemption as well.

At 8/27/2009 3:51 PM, Anonymous Mika said...

Where can one get a more complete and lengthy listing? I'd like "anonymous" to document his assertion. If these other entities lobbied as much as he claims, would they not be on the list?

At 8/27/2009 6:45 PM, Blogger KO said...

Mika, check the PAC list at that website. Not lobbying but money to get people elected. Unions all over that list.

At 8/27/2009 7:17 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

OA said...

I suspect the high tech firms were mainly lobbying to increase H1B visas.

The problem is that those firms use dirty pool to get those H1-b's in the first place. If they didn't need to play tricks with regulation(requirements that are impossible for any citizen to attain, evcn internal employees) and buy Congress to get their way, they might have a case.

At 8/28/2009 1:19 AM, Anonymous CompEng said...

Why ignore the #1 entry on the list?

At 8/28/2009 8:12 AM, Anonymous geoih said...

You should have headlined this article as another "Markets in Everything". How about 'markets in government largess'.


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