Will lobbyists impact super-committee's findings?
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The debt ceiling deal finalized almost three weeks ago raised the debt limit, cut spending, and created a twelve-member debt super-committee tasked with finding ways to cut the long-term deficit by at least $1.2 trillion. The super-committee members – three from both parties and from both Houses of Congress – were picked by Congressional leaders.
Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long for the massive Washington lobbying machine to turn its sights to the super-committee members. As the twelve people who arguably will have the most say in the largest package of spending cuts in U.S. history, lobbyists are scrambling to ensure their clients aren’t the hardest hit. This is often the story behind expensive and sometimes wasteful programs; and why government spending is difficult to cut. There is always a constituency for spending that will fight tooth and nail to maintain funding for their particular cause. This occurs even amid wide public support for spending cuts to tackle our debt and deficit problems – a phenomenon attributable to the “not in my backyard” syndrome. People want cuts until it affects them.
Now that the members of the supercommittee have been named, lobbyists have begun strategizing in earnest. And they’ve got their sights set beyond just the elite 12.
Several lobbyists said they are focused on the committees of jurisdiction that have until Oct. 4 to send their recommendations to the debt panel as the first line of defense to keep their clients’ interests off the chopping block.
And while, fortunately, the super-committee isn’t going to be as easy to lobby as interest groups are used to, this won’t stop anybody from trying.
Lobby shops and their clients are fast realizing that a full frontal assault on Congress’s budget-slashing supercommittee may not be a fruitful strategy — particularly as some committee members and senior congressional staffers suggest that K Street won’t be terribly welcome at their negotiating table.
K Street’s worry is that it won’t be business as usual in Washington, where lobbyists famously enjoy open access to lawmakers.
Not that K Street won’t try.
Lobbying firms most likely will make their cases to congressional leaders and congressional members who are close to supercommittee members, but not to members of the joint panel themselves, Leonard said. Powerful as it is, the panel must still win approval for its decisions from Congress as a whole.
As the super-committee begins its work to tackle the most important issue facing the country, we can only hope it won’t go about it as “business as usual.” Members must put aside concerns about reelection or attempts to appease special interest groups and focus on solving the nation’s severe fiscal imbalance. Our economy faces unprecedented challenges that will require unprecedented solutions.