The swamp is getting deeper and wetter.
President Trump famously campaigned on “draining the swamp,” referring to the revolving door between federal government service and the vast array of corporate lobbyists who corruptly spread their tons of cash around to former colleagues who in turn do everything in their power to ensure that their donors’ legislative and regulatory aims are met.
A new report by the non-partisan The Center for Responsive Politics, however, shows that Trump’s pledge to stop corrupt politics was as much of a lie as everything else that has spilled forth from his vocal chords. The report shows that lobbying activity in the federal capital has reached a seven-year high, reaching a total of $3.34 billion used to influence congressional and executive branch decisions to favor the lobbyists’ clients in the first year of the Trump administration.
That’s a six percent increase during the supposed swamp-drainer’s tenure, and not surprisingly, it is the largest one-year rise in spending by lobbyists since 2008, the last year of the Bush era. It’s not just spending that has increased, however. The number of registered lobbyists increased by 2.5% from 11,169 to 11,444.
The biggest spenders amongst the lobbyists were the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Realtors according to The Center for Responsive Politics, who published this top 20 chart of lobbying organizations by spending:
Among the business sectors represented by the lobbying groups, the medical field loomed largest, with many irons in the fire during the Republican’s so-far fruitless attempts to repeal Obamacare.
Communications/Electronics was the sector with the second largest expenditures, perhaps explaining why net neutrality was eliminated from FCC rules against the wishes of the vast majority of Americans.
The Center for Responsive Politics published this chart detailing the breakdown of lobbying expenditures by business sector:
It’s interesting to note the sectors that reduced their lobbying last year. Lawyers and Lobbyists apparently felt little need to spend money, since business was already booming. With everyone in the Trump administration lawyering up and so many regulatory repeals to appeal, the legal field has their plates plenty full.
With Trump in office and the Republicans in control of Congress, the defense sector sees little need to lobby for the defense spending they already know they’ll be getting.
While it’s extremely sad to see labor reduce their efforts to influence government policy, perhaps it’s simply a case of not wanting to waste money speaking to deaf ears that has caused the reduction. Still, with labor under attack on multiple fronts, it would be encouraging to see a vigorous effort to fight back.
The Center for Responsive Politics’ statistics are a useful swamp-measuring tool, but the analysis oF their data just proves that the Trump administration has just encouraged the swamp monster to grow bigger rather than initiate the slaying that they promised to the American people. It’s not like we weren’t warned beforehand, but perhaps the hard facts will create some accountability. One can dream, anyway.