American Sauce: Lobbyist watch
January 24th, 2011
02:28 PM ET
12 years ago

American Sauce: Lobbyist watch

Capitol Hill (CNN) - Congress has 110 new members and one new ruling party in the House. And then, not so new, are the 12,000+ registered lobbyists in Washington. (See the Center for Responsive Politics' database here.) This week, American Sauce asks whether change in Congress will force any change in the lobbyist ring of power.

And we clear up some numbers in the Health Care Wars. Does the new law save or cost the government? Does it add or kill jobs?

Listen to the podcast here:
Or continue reading.

Washington lobbyists are paid anywhere from a small salary or to a small fortune to navigate Congress.

But they need new maps. The House now has its largest freshman class in some 60 years and there is shift, nearly government-wide, toward fiscal conservatism.

This has changed what and how lobbyists pitch.

"We have to make a more concerted economic case," said Stephanie Silverman, founder and CEO of Venn Strategies, a lobbying and advocacy firm in Washington. Clients have included The Campaign to End Obesity and insurance giant MetLife.

Silverman says she and her troops now must prove to lawmakers that what their clients want will bring jobs to the economy and savings to government. They have to make the fiscal case.

"I don't think the pressure was necessarily quite so high on having to make those cases before," she said, "And in candor, it's a shame more of us didn't make those cases before but we're learning how to do it now."

Lobbyists like Silverman, who specializes in tax and economic issues like health care, also are bracing for a chill from lawmakers who have railed against "special interests" and all things inside the Beltway.

"There are so many of them who came to Washington on an anti-Washington platform, so it will be interesting to see how well, if at all, we are able to get messages and issues to resonate," Silverman said.

Another new obstacle for lobbyists: new procedures in the House. Republicans have pledged to propose free-standing bills with no unrelated proposals attached. That would kill a bread-and-butter maneuver for lobbyists, who rely on riders or unrelated provisions buried into popular bills to get myriad items passed for their clients.

But Silverman questions if the ban will really happen. "A lot of folks say when they take over that they have great new procedural ideas and six or eight months later you find those ideas have gone by the wayside."

American Sauce asked if, in these first weeks of the anti-Washington 112th Congress, she's had any doors slammed in front of her.

"Not yet," she replied, "but I expect a few to get closed in our faces."

Listen to this week's podcast here. [EDITOR: audio link here]

You can also listen to American Sauce on iTunes or subscribe to the podcast via RSS.

Filed under: American Sauce • Capitol Hill
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Tam

    With all those lobbyists, how many are working FOR good health care?

    January 24, 2011 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  2. Protect and Defend Freedom of Speech in the USA

    And we clear up some numbers in the Health Care Wars. Does the new law save or cost the government? Does it add or kill jobs?
    So where's the info? Love to see how CNN spins these.

    So are the cost calculations based on the bogus numbers and assumptions the Democrats fed the CBO or are they realistic?

    Does the add or kill jobs response take into account the hundreds (probably thousands by now) of waivers that Obama's friends are getting? How many would be lost if they didn't get the waivers? How many would lose their healthcare plan, which Obama and the Democrats swore up and down would not happen?

    January 24, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    "the lobbyist ring of power"

    Call a spade a spade: it's a circle jerk.

    January 24, 2011 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    "American Sauce asks whether change in Congress will force any change in the lobbyist ring of power."

    Of course it does. The first few things the GOP has planned to do in the House, including repeal of the ACA, are entirely pandering to their favorite lobbyists, the insurance industry in particular. All their blather about their "mandate" is hollow nonsense, particularly in light of how they responded to November 2008 and the even bigger, clearer, more resounding mandate given to Obama and the Dems. They don't believe in mandates or "the people have spoken"...that's just their smokescreen.

    January 24, 2011 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  5. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    It won't be hard or take long for lobbyist to get the newcomers on the payroll when they start shelling out the millions to them as they did to get them elected. Payback time.

    January 24, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  6. GOP Taliban Victim

    Great article by Lisa. 12,000 Lobbyists in D.C. alone? I had no idea there are THAT many. Not to mention the army of lobbyists at our state capitols. This is the problem with our political system. It's all about the $ and the lobbyists.

    January 24, 2011 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  7. Michael

    Until every American can get medical treatment without fear of bankruptcy or financial ruin, health care remains a misnomer in this country. It is shameful that the wealthiest nation in the world, whose bankers and investors make countless billions of dollars while hardworking families lose their jobs and homes, cannot afford to guarantee the health of all its citizens, no matter how hapless, shiftless, or derelict, and in the process that of its good citizenry who deserves to live with dignity.

    January 24, 2011 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  8. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    over 20 lobbyists for every elected senator and every representative. No wonder the republicans are pandering to big businesses instead of small businesses. And yet, it's the "show me the money GOP bagger big oil, Wall Street, too big to fail banks and foreign interests party" that says country first.

    January 24, 2011 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  9. New Age Independant

    Another Obama failure. Of course when you put lobbyists on your staff, it's hard to keep that promise.

    January 24, 2011 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |