Friday, June 24, 2005

Republicans are hogs at the trough, as this Washington Post article makes clear:
To the great growth industries of America such as health care and home building add one more: influence peddling.
The number of registered lobbyists in Washington has more than doubled since 2000 to more than 34,750 while the amount that lobbyists charge their new clients has increased by as much as 100 percent. Only a few other businesses have enjoyed greater prosperity in an otherwise fitful economy. ...
"There's unlimited business out there for us," said Robert L. Livingston, a Republican former chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and now president of a thriving six-year-old lobbying firm. "Companies need lobbying help."
Lobbying firms can't hire people fast enough. Starting salaries have risen to about $300,000 a year for the best-connected aides eager to "move downtown" from Capitol Hill or the Bush administration. Once considered a distasteful post-government vocation, big-bucks lobbying is luring nearly half of all lawmakers who return to the private sector when they leave Congress, according to a forthcoming study by Public Citizen's Congress Watch.

$300,000 for a lobbyist is paltry when you consider the payoff:
Take the example of Hewlett-Packard Co. The California computer maker nearly doubled its budget for contract lobbyists to $734,000 last year and added the elite lobbying firm of Quinn Gillespie & Associates LLC. Its goal was to pass Republican-backed legislation that would allow the company to bring back to the United States at a dramatically lowered tax rate as much as $14.5 billion in profit from foreign subsidiaries. The extra lobbying paid off. The legislation was approved and Hewlett-Packard will save millions of dollars in taxes.

This congress and its president are handing out goodies at a rate undreamt of by "tax and spend" Democrats:
The Republicans in charge aren't just pro-business, they are also pro-government. Federal outlays increased nearly 30 percent from 2000 to 2004, to $2.29 trillion. And despite the budget deficit, federal spending is set to increase again this year, especially in programs that are prime lobbying targets such as defense, homeland security and medical coverage.

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