The political gridlock that has gripped Washington over the past few years may have one small upside: For the third year in a row, the lobbying industry profits are down. Most struggling companies are losing business due to the lingering effects of the recession, but with lobbyists the problem appears to stem from the inability of Congress to get anything done, as the Washington Post reports:
In this still-rough economy, the companies, trade groups, municipalities, universities and others who hire lobbyists are certainly trying to trim costs where they can. It’s hard to justify spending a lot to influence Congress given the little that’s been getting done on the Hill, and K Street pros say they’re hearing from some clients who want to reduce their monthly retainers, or perhaps cut ties all together. (The 113th Congress attracted so much notice for its lack of achievements that some industry watchers wonder why lobbying revenue hasn’t fallen even further.)
Some lobbyists, however, think their luck could turn:
The two-year budget deal reached on Capitol Hill in December and a few other recent developments brought hope that Congress will return to “regular order,” which would mean 13 appropriations bills each year, perhaps a big transportation bill and other legislation providing opportunities to help clients get what they want.
The health of the lobbying industry depends on the success of politicians at expanding the power of government, making regulations more complex, and increasing the number of economic interests dependent on government action—whether through laws or through regulation. This is a potent reminder of why we’re so skeptical of blue-model reforms, whether they be in health care or finance, that significantly expand the role of government in these industries. Liberal pols tend to sell their policies as a defense against the power of special interests, but it is these same big-government policies that keep lobbyists and their families well fed.