In the eyes of Barack Obama, and John McCain, Washington lobbyists are radioactive – they are lepers. Obama won’t take a campaign contribution from a lobbyist. McCain won’t employ a lobbyist. Don’t even be seen talking to a “special interest” group. The hysteria over “special interest” groups and lobbyists is silly. It is just political gamesmanship.
I give credit to Senator Clinton. She didn’t join the lobbyist bashing brigade. She pointed out, “you know, a lot of these lobbyists whether you like it or not, represent real people. They represent nurses. They represent social workers, and yes, they represent corporations.”
What does a lobbyist do? A lobbyist tries to make sure the legislative and executive branches of our government don’t do bad things. Bad legislation, damaging regulations. What’s wrong with that? Is it bad that the Farm Bureau or the Corn Growers or the Pork Producers have lobbyists to protect the interests of their members?
The First Amendment of the Constitution gives every citizen the right to petition the government. There are 300 million citizens. To many to all come to Washington to get their voices heard. So, they hire someone to represent them. We had lobbyists when our nation was founded, but there weren’t very many of them. The bigger and more intrusive government gets, the more lobbyists there are. They are here trying to protect their interests. Who knows what the government might do when their back is turned.
Hard to believe but there are 35,000 registered lobbyists in this town. Every side of every issue is represented. Some want to preserve the Bush Tax Cuts. Others want them rescinded. Some want to drill for oil off our shores. Others do not.
Policymakers here in Washington rely on lobbyists. That is how they are able to hear all sides of an issue.
Until next week, I am John Block from Washington.
Listen to the radio broadcast here