Lobbyist Spending Reaches Highest Since 2010
Lobbying spending reached $3.4 billion last year, the most since the all-time peak eight years ago, according to calculations out Monday from the Center for Responsive Politics.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was the top spender for the 19th consecutive year, spending $95 million to promote its pro-business agenda – including $26 million in the final three months of 2018, mainly to advocate against President Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico. The National Association of Realtors was second, at $73 million.
But the industry that spent the most, by far, was the pharmaceutical sector at $280 million – hoping to shape public opinion and the work of Congress as the rapid rise in drug prices moves the center of the health care policy agenda. The industry's trade association, known as PhRMA, spent 10 percent of that total. The company that spent the most were Pfizer ($11 million), Johnson & Johnson ($7 million) and AbbVie ($6 million).
Neal is federal government affairs manager at R Street Institute, a nonpartisan and pro-free-market public policy research organization.
The term "democratic norms" has become a misnomer over the last year. America's governing institutions are undermined by elected officials who dishonor their offices and each other. Standards of behavior and "normal" processes of governance seem to be relics of a simpler time. Our democracy has survived thus far, but the wounds are many.
Free speech and free press have been the White House's two consistent whipping posts. Comments such as "I think it is embarrassing for the country to allow protestors" and constant attacks on press credibility showcase President Trump's disdain for the pillars of democracy. Traditional interactions between the administration and the press are no longer taken for granted. Demeaning, toxic criticisms have become so common that they're being ignored. As the administration revokes critics' press passes and daily briefings are canceled, normalcy in this arena is sorely missed.
Having had remarkable success at signing people up to vote in Texas last year, an Austin group of activists is expanding its pilot program into a full-blown national effort to overcome the sometimes ignored first hurdle for people in the voting process — registration.
"There are millions of voters who are registered who don't get out to vote," said Christopher Jasinski, director of partnerships for Register2Vote. "But the unmeasured part of the pie is the actual number of unregistered voters."