What we get wrong about lobbying

I’ve got this great Lee Drutman piece on what we get wrong about lobbying and corruption assigned for class tomorrow, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never mentioned it here.  It’s really good.  Here’s my favorite part:

Looking at lobbying in the aggregate, what jumps out is the stark imbalance in resources. Corporations blow everyone else out of the water. Business accounts for roughly 80 percent of all reported lobbying expenditures, about $2.6 billion dollars a year now…

Meanwhile, the types of organized interests who we might expect to provide a countervailing force to business — labor unions, groups representing diffuse public like consumers or taxpayers — spend $1 for every $34 businesses spend on lobbying, by my count.[emphases mine] Of the 100 organizations that spend the most on lobbying annually, consistently 95 represent business. In interviewing 60 corporate lobbyists for my book The Business of America is Lobbying, I asked them to identify the leading opposition on an issue on which they were currently working. Not a single lobbyist volunteered a union or a “public interest” group.

Even if we take the most benign view of lobbying as merely providing informationand legislative support, these data suggest that, on many issues, policymakers hear significantly more often from one side than another. While no single investment leads predictably to any outcome, quantity and quality matter: To hire more and more senior and connected people to be more places to make more and better arguments on your behalf with more detail and build more and more high-impact allies improves one’s chances. How much? It depends. But, on average, it’s not zero.

This growing imbalance has had two major effects on the political system.

First, it is increasingly difficult to challenge any existing policy that benefits politically active corporations…

Second, the sheer amount of lobbying has created a policymaking environment that now requires significant resources to get anything done. Which means that, with increasingly rare exceptions, the only possible policy changes on economic policy issues are those changes that at least some large corporations support.

 

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Republicans versus science

A knee-jerk distrust of science is, unfortunately, among the other problems in American politics and society sown by the nihilism and know-nothingism of the modern day Republican Party.  Not surprisingly, if you keep telling your supporters that scientists are lying as part of a liberal conspiracy, your voters will not trust science.

This is starkly clear in the latest from Gallup that surveys on attitudes towards 2015 being the warmest year on record.  Now, not surprisingly, the solid majority of Republicans reject the idea that this is the result of climate change (brief complaint with Gallup– of course it is both climate change and natural variation).  Okay, to be expected.  But only the slimmest majority of Republicans, 52%, is even willing to admit that 2015 was the warmest year on record.  What the hell?  Should we poll them on the color of the sky?  The amount of rainfall in 2015?  The lowest recorded temperature?  These are just plain scientific measurements.  And even these are in doubt by far too many Republicans.  This is just sad.

climate

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