The corporatization of American politics continues unabated, of course, except it has achieved hyperspace warp speed from the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. Enter Romney, who I guess is supposed to be the lobbyists’ dream candidate. But do they really want to succeed raising the barriers to entry and eliminate their competition? Eliminate corporate taxes and regulations? Do they believe that’s going to create a healthy economy where their companies will flourish? Wait – they don’t care about those things? What do they care about?
The ever-expanding role of lobbyists in politics is a major victory for corporate America. Overwhelmingly, the companies and trade associations that dominate top-dollar lobbyists’ clientele are seeking to protect their own legislated competitive advantages, including special tax breaks, favorable procurement rules and government regulations that prevent new challengers from entering the marketplace.
Republicans should be acutely aware of the dangers posed by the lobbying community. When insurgents led by Newt Gingrich took over the House after the 1994 election, they were determined to open markets, allow free enterprise to flourish and rid the legal and regulatory system of competitive favoritism.
In practice, just the opposite took place. Gingrich, and especially Tom DeLay, ceded enormous power to Washington lobbyists in what they called the K Street Project. Loyal lobbyists were rewarded with earmarks, leadership support for special amendments and the delegated authority to write legislative provisions.
Shortly before he became House whip in 1995, DeLay created Project Relief, a legislated moratorium on new regulations. He appointed Bruce Gates, a lobbyist for the National-American Wholesale Grocers’ Association, to run the project and Gordon Gooch, a petrochemical lobbyist, to write the first draft of the bill. The bill was then modified by Paul C. Smith, an automobile industry lobbyist, and by Peter Molinaro, a lobbyist for Union Carbide.
That was a remains a real question.