There’s an age-old question that has yet to be answered: “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Now, I’m a creationist, so I lean toward the chicken; however, Scripture never says whether or not God first created a full-grown chicken or a chicken in an egg! When it comes to the question of “which came first, the lobbyist or big government?,” the answer is unequivocally big government. Over the past decade, the number of lobbyists in DC has increased exponentially, due to the government’s intrusion into the private-sector economy in the form of bailouts and stimulus packages.
It’s easy enough in our time to criticize and demonize the lobbyists in Washington, and to blame them for the culture of corruption that controls it. It’s easy to dismiss lobbying as a profession for the principally bankrupt, but that’s not really a fair characterization. Lobbyists have become a necessity in the era of big government, if for nothing else than the protection of basic American freedoms. Think about it for a minute, the NRA has lobbyists on Capitol Hill simply to fight back against Federal intrusions on the Second Amendment rights of all citizens. Businesses have to have lobbyists on Capitol Hill to try and protect against new laws and regulations that could be potentially destabilizing to their industries. Lobbying is a direct consequence of Congressional overreach, and the hiring of lobbyists is for protection more than procurement of special deals.
A great example is the recent hiring of former Obama Administration officials and senior Democratic aides by Bank of America and Citigroup. Namely, these two banks sought out the senior legislative aides to Sen. Chris Dodd and Rep. Barney Frank, the principal architects of the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act. It irritates me how these big banks are in bed with big government, but it’s not so much the banks’ fault as it is Uncle Sam’s. If you’re a major player in any industry that the government is reaching in and taking hold of, you’ve got to move to protect yourself. That’s why, I believe, that in the cyclical cycle of lobbying and big government, big government came first. Lobbying is, more often than not, reactionary to policy overreach.
It’s time for transparency in Washington, DC, and this transparency will only occur when the tentacles of government are severed from the spheres of private enterprise. If Americans are serious about lobbying reform, we must first get serious about electing Representatives and Senators who are committed to cutting the size and scope of government. If we do that, we can reverse the curse of special-interest driven politics and policies in our nation’s capital.