We all hear about lobbying firms or think tanks that are the scum of the earth, to put it bluntly. From gun lobbies to big banking lobbies, they’ve pretty much earned the negative stigma that goes with their name now. Are there any pretty decent ones out there that are more than just a tiny blip on the radar? Are there any forward thinking institutions that get anything done or have a decent sized budget?
Lobbying firms are just that, firms that lobby for something. Plenty of them are lobbying for positive things like immigration reform or universal healthcare.
First, when you’re talking about lobbying firms, I’m assuming you’re talking about private lobbyists for hire, not industry associations (like the National Association of Realtors) or not for profit issue groups (like the NRA or ACLU)? You’re talking about places like Patton Boggs or like that?
So, how do you define “decent”? What sort of clients are good or forward thinking in your mind, and what’s evil?
Well, if you’re against gun rights, there are folks who lobby to punish the innocent for what the guilty do. Whereas if you support gun rights, there’s a lobby for me and mine. So regardless of which one you think is “the scum of the earth,” wouldn’t the opposite be, presumably, good?
Common Cause unabashedly calls itself a lobby, points out that because it’s a lobby, donations are not tax deductible, and didn’t even come up with an educational arm until it was 30 years old.
And just about every not-for-profit of any size either directly lobbies its state or national government, teams up with similar organizations, or hires an independent consultant to lobby for it.
The NRA is a good example of a “decent” lobbying organization. They stay on target, and don’t get distracted too much by off topic things. They are non-partisan, and support members of both parties as long as they are pro-gun. They are small in size and scope. Microsoft alone, a single company, spends more on lobbying than the NRA does. With that small amount of spending they wield enormous influence due to the loyalty of their members.
You might not like gun rights, but my any measure they are doing a great job of lobbying for them.
I’m not so sure about that… I seem to recall some cases where they gave a candidate a grade of F just because “Well he’s a Democrat, of course he must be against guns”, despite the candidate himself never saying anything about them.
Lobbying firms that lobby for policy reasons or ideological reasons, even if I don’t agree with them, are IMO good. NRA is good, gun control organizations are good. Pro-life groups good, pro-choice groups good.
I also appreciate labor and corporate lobbyists who lobby for or against laws on the big, broad issues, like “what should our manufacturing policy be? How about our agricultural policy?”
To me, the dirty players are the ones who work in the shadows seeking special exemptions and carveouts for their clients. Companies who instead of competing in the marketplace, seek to kneecap their competition with the power of the law. So basically, to me all lobbying that’s out in the open is good, all lobbying that’s done in the shadows, sneaking in amendments to a law that no one reads, is dirty.
Pretty much every “good” group you can think of has a lobbyist, either on staff or hired from a firm. Are you looking specifically for lobbying firms that work for outside clients? I’m not sure what the difference is between them and lobbyists who work in-house, especially since the “bad” groups have both too.
Either way, like I said, name a group that you like and it’s probably got a lobbyist. You can look them up.
Nobody works “in the shadows” any more than anyone else. They are all subject to the same rules. And why does it matter? Congress works in public - it’s proceedings and votes are all public. That’s all the really matters, since Congress is responsible for what it does.
Instead of being mad at those lobbyists who ask for what you consider evil things, you should direct your anger at members of Congress who do their bidding.
I agree completely that I should direct my anger at elected officials, not lobbyists. But you’re mistaken about everything being out in the open. Congress has evolved lots of tricks to keep things as close to secret as possible, the most often used being inserting things in conference that no one will ever read.
I didn’t mean to say “everything” was out in the open. I said proceedings and votes. There are times when Congress isn’t fully transparent, as you note.
Someone will read everything in a conference report–it’s just a matter of when they read it.
And it’s not always done out of a desire for secrecy. Sometimes it’s just because there’s a rush to get things done.
Of course, this is still about how Congress works, not lobbyists. I’m glad you agree that anger at lobbyists is misplaced. Not only does it blame someone for nothing more than exercising their right to lobby Congress, it lets Congress off the hook for what it does. Congress is entirely responsible for every law it passes.
What makes you think that nobody ever reads it? Democrats do it all the time. More to the point, a piece of legislation that nobody ever read would have no effect at all: Every law must be read by the people implementing it.
I seem to recall you’re completely full of shit because you didn’t provide a cite to your claim. My cite that you’re completely full of shit because you didn’t post a cite in your ridiculous post **IS **your ridiculous, cite-less post . What’s your cite to your ridiculous claim to counter my claim that you are full of shit?
Provide a cite or a retraction, please!
I will post a cite if I find one. I will post a retraction if someone finds a good argument against me. Until either of those things happens, my post will remain what it always has been: A vague recollection with a low argument value.
I always thought the Compressed Gas Association was an excellent example of a technically based group that properly lobbied congress with scientifically based guidance.
Much like “I seem to recall you’re completely full of shit because you didn’t provide a cite to your claim.”
And I imagine there’s another lobbying group out there that says the CGA is spewing a load of lies and distortions and they have the real science on their side.
Harry Reid, the Majority Leader of the Senate, was for a long time ranked “A”. More recently, he’s palled around with gun control advocates, and voted thusly, but it looks like he was a B in 2010. I imagine it’s lower now.
Others can be found there. They are willing to endorse many Democrats, and not all of them are Blue Dogs. The GOA/Gun Owners of America is much more strict,
but still willing to give a few higher grades. The important thing to note about the NRA is that they are composed of several semi-autonomous organizations. NRA-ILA is the main lobbying one.
Their grading is weird though, they give “…the worst grade imaginable: an A-minus-minus!” On looking further though, I think they’re just giving two dashed instead of an em dash. They still give F- as a grade though, and no plus except A+. Reid has F-.
IMHO, yeah the answer depends on your ideology. And also what the group does to turn you off. I mean, I’m all for the ASPCA, not so much for PETA, and certainly not alone on that. Is whatever Jenny McCarthy’s involved in lobbying with a bunch of compassionate people who want to protect children or are they science-ignoring nutjobs?