Lobbying


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Lobbying Essay, Research Paper

When the term “lobbying” was developed it denoted the effort to influence legislation, but since it has evolved into a sinister connotation. However, its activities intertwine within the fundamentals of the United States democratic system. As proclaimed by the United States Constitution, the national governmental powers is divided, dispersed, and decentralized. It invites struggle over the direction of public policy. Moreover, James Madison had expressed, that factions were dangerous to government stability and that they either must be disposed of or they must be controlled. However, to remove the cause of factions would destroy the liberty essential to the United States democratic existence. Hence, the Constitution guarantees every citizen the same opinions, passions, and interests, putting the act to lobby into perspective. How lobbing continues to play an active role in the American legislative process proves that it is an extension of the First Amendment , thus reflecting the central purpose of the United States Government, that people should be able to lay their needs before their Government. One instance of this, is that the Western Growers are using lobbyists located in Washington, DC to try to having legislation passed so that state regulations over western farmers are to be placed back into the hands of the Department of Labor. A lobbyists role is central to the United States form of government as stated in the First Amendment, “Congress shall pass no law abridging the right of the people to peacefully assemble and to petition the Government for redress of grievances.” Thus, a lobbyists participates in direct democracy by voicing the opinions of many, usually located too far away from Washington to “petition the Government”. A lobbyists is one that represents a special public or private interest and lobbies by persuading government to pass specific legislation, make changes in proposed legislation or undo legislation already passed. In addition to being the representative to the voice of the interest group represented, they also must take on the role of information source, spokesperson, reporter, and facilitator. The nature of lobbying is the exchanging of important information and ideas between government officials and private parties. Duane Musser, lobbyist for Western Growers, states that he is responsible for lobbying Congress to get federal regulation, under the Department of Labor, over western farmers instead of being regulated by the state of California. As an information source they must present their case faithfully and thoroughly remaining consistent with the views they represent. They are relied on to present comprehensive information on the matters at hand (Smith, 1). This aids the legislative process, by which lobbyists communicate with members of Congress that may not have a prior commitment or not know all the facets of the legislation trying to be passed. Otherwise, Congress members are informed by lobbyists to the wrongs of a legislation already passed or persuade to make changes on legislation. Regardless a lobbyists relies on the power of persuasion and pressure to articulate the opinions vested by the interests they represent. As a spokesperson, lobbyists must bell well informed on both sides of the issue, in addition to all laws and regulations that surround the issue being lobbied. For instance, Musser requires himself to know all about Health Insurance Law. They must know the ins and outs, be able to point out the pros and cons, and know all significant statistics of their particular issue. Their function as a reporter is to be able to report to and on the behalf of those represented, as well as to and about the legislature (Smith, 6). This function is reciprocal in the manner that a lobbyists is responsible to both the legislature and he interest group they represent. After the functions formerly stated, a lobbyists then simplifies, guides and monitors the legislation they had lobbied. Under the United States system of direct democracy, in which members of the polity meet to discuss all policy decisions and then agree to abide by majority rule , lobbying closes the gap between a large population and its government by seeking to influence the legislative process. Duane Musser goes on to say that lobbyists need to strategically communicate clients interest to Congress or whomever else. They must make sure that the message of the interest group reaches key decision makers. Lobbyists must know how the grass roots feel and follow that feeling, implying a sense of power in numbers. This provides the basis for the tight network between public interest and the federal government. This model begins with public interested, which are then vested into public interest groups and grass root campaigns. Then these interest groups use a lobbyists to represent their voice to either sponsors, congressional staff, and members of Congress. To put in more simple terms, the single lobbyists represent the voice of up to millions of American s who share the same opinion. Thus, allowing the lobbyists to influence specific legislation, affect pending regulatory matters, and help shape executive branch policies and programs (Mack, 108). Lobbyists must develop a relationship with political parties and incumbents. On that account, the opportunity exist for individual and groups to take their case to Congress. Knowing that they well be listened to and that they might make a difference because Congress is independently powerful in making public policy. And as government grows larger and issues become more complex, overburdened Congressmen and staff have had to rely more and more on outside experts for information, such as lobbyists. With that in mind, lobbyists seek access and consideration from those who are eager to listen and become more informed on a specific interest. Lobbyists tend to gain support from where ever that can get it, the more possible votes in their favor, the better. For instance, Anita Brown, former congressional staff on the House Committee on Agriculture, explains that lobbyists look for a sponsor when bill lobbying or a district that would most benefit from their specific interest. An example of this is the exportation of kiwi. A lobbyists must find a member of Congress whose district specializes in kiwi growth and exportation. This is where a relationship first starts and as years of lobbying continue, relationships with governmental leaders strengthen while a network of contacts is being built. From this cause, Brown, now a lobbyists, is able to contact members of government through prior relationships from working on Capitol Hill and lobbying, as well as profit from the valuable contacts that have stemmed from her relations with Congressional members. However strong relationships and contacts may be political parties often impede a lobbyists vested interested due to party affiliations. It is usually the tendency for Democrats to favor labor, educational organizations, and urban groups, whereas, Republicans lean toward professional associations, business alliances, and large farm organizations, but few issues do not cross over party lines (Hall, 72). Though, Mrs. Brown has found that going straight to the party in power usually gets thing done faster. The lobbyists first step to achieve its interest group s goals, is that it cannot begin by stating that the system being lobbied needs fixing, rather, they must be able to explain why it does and to justify their claims. This is done through the implementation of certain strategies and techniques. Mrs. Brown, explained that a lobbyists must be absolutely in command by knowing the issue inside and out. This requires some research on each member of government being lobbied. A lobbyists must know how the member felt in the past and be must be a total and complete resource to the Congressional member as if they themselves were to introduce the bill and vote for it. This is where language becomes an integral part of lobbying. A lobbyists must have a keen sense of vocabulary that would allow them to be able to spin doctor words so that the y sound appealing to those being lobbied. Duane Musser explained that lobbying is comparable to the job of a salesmen. They need to have a key grasp on the buzz word that are involved in the issue at hand and must make them likable. A case in point, was when he was trying to gain favor on specific type of health, know as the Multiple Employee Welfare Act (MEWA). Although MEWA was found to be fraudulent, abusive, and insolvent, the Assistant Health Plan (AHP) was passed due to more friendly language found with in the legislation. Also, as stated before, grass root support is found to be key by uniting constituency groups and implementing mass communications to disseminate information to elected officials as well as having state congressional support. This former strategies work in conjunction with techniques practiced by lobbyists. For example, legislative initiatives enable, defeat, and modify legislation pending at the local, state, and national levels of government. This is the most common practice exercised by lobbyists. It tries to persuade as many member of Congress to vote in favor of the lobbyists. Coalition building creates strategic alliances among diverse entities with a common interest in the outcome of an issue. Lastly, another technique used is the extended arm of press relations. This method keeps the media informed of relevant issues, points, and milestones, providing documentation that articulates the client s story according to approved strategies. These various forms of direct or indirect contact with legislators leaves the door open to endless avenues for a lobbyists to channel and implore influence on the legislative process.

There are many advantages and disadvantages to being a lobbyists. It is sometimes a profession that is frowned upon and does not earn the respect it deserves, nevertheless, it is a pivotal position in the legislative process. And without it, the common interests that are shared by the many American citizens would not be represented and voiced by one person who has many contacts within the national government. The glory a lobbyists is founded in their ability to influence legislation and be a part of the legislative decision-making process. “They have a positive and objective attitude toward the problems that they must tackle and they make a conscientious effort to get along with government (Hall, 11).” They are an inside player in the legislative power allowing them access to the movers” an “shakers” of the Congressional body. Furthermore, they believe that they are the of the limited few that really know what the inner workings of a ill are, but this can be seen as both an advantage and disadvantage, it is up to interpretation. Consequently, there disadvantages to the profession. Lobbyists, more times than not, have to hide their own goal to abide by the organizations they represent. This can be a burden, but easily addressed with change of profession or change in firm or place of employment. This is similar to the example of a defense attorney with a moral conscience. The lobbying profession also calls to present the aura of a crisis. This is an act to keep a member aroused. In the humdrum of an issue, this can be the determinate factor whether the member was convinced or not. Moreover, this can add to the tediousness involved in persuading members of Congress. Often, explaining the obvious to members who are na ve to the issue can offer little motivation to continue. Furthermore, lobbyists have been perceived to be a potential undue or improper influence in the governmental process. Although, this view is changing due to the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995, which “for the first time requires professional lobbyists to disclose who they are publicly, for whom they work for, what they are spending, [unlike the exorbitant spending on politicians which hinted to the buying of Congressmen, votes, and legislation] and what bills they are trying to pass, kill, or amend. It will pull back the curtains from the world of lobbying. ” The Supreme Court expressed concern on this issue, as well as James Madison in the Federalist Papers, as early as 1853. With paid lobbying activities and undue influence, finding that a secret contingency contract for lobbying was void and unenforceable as a matter of public policy because it “tends to corrupt or contaminate, by improper influences the integrity of our political institutions” by “creating and bring into operation undue influences” by those “stimulating to active partisanship by strong lure of high profit. ” Not only is lobbying contained to the representatives of public and private interest groups to the federal government, but lobbying can be observed in government to government lobbying. This is particular to the presidency. The president gains winning support for programs patronage. Patronage allows the president to issue jobs, grants, and/or special favors as rewards to those who show their support and participate in the cause. The president may appoint cabinet secretaries and mandate funds to certain bureaucracy agencies, as well as appoint heads to theses agencies. He may call on his political party in Congress to support certain programs and use his leadership to persuade those who work for him and other branches of the government to get what he wants done. In the past, the spoils system was used, though today it is rarely seen, but it allows the president to fire and hire department heads that run consistent with his own view and/or agenda. Another way for the president to lobby government is to make use of his veto power. This directly passes, kills, or amends a bill. Additionally, he may propose a bill to Congress directly, networking less than a professional lobbyist may have to do. In the Nixon-Ford administration, they had tried to pass two Supreme Court justice nominations and tried for restrictions on the administration of Southeast Asian policy, but they had lost. Conversely, they were successfully able to lobby for increased funds for the deployment of the controversial antiballistic missile system (CQ, 14). Furthermore, the president also has the power to appeal to the American people to articulate his view and arouse public interest. This was habitually seen in Franklin D. Roosevelt s era, by his fire-side chats. This may be contrasts with evolution of an issue beginning with the shared common interest of many, to the interest of one (the president) to arouse debate and interest in many to then be developed by grass root campaigns and interest groups to be represented by one lobbyist. These powers of the president are expressed in the Constitution as his “inherent powers,” which for that reason allow the president to lobby other parts of the government. Though lobbing is counteracted by opposing issues, it still remains effective in the legislative process. The distribution theory offers that each interest group is counter-balanced by an opposing interest, the same is true within the lobbying profession. But this adds to the check and balance system within lobbing and assists in efficient and knowledgeable decision-making in the legislative process. Thus, lobbing is a means for resolution to conflict by funneling important information, analysis, and opinions to the government. It gains benefit or relief that is unavailable to the private sector to gain or retain economic advantages, create beneficial programs, and reserve public problems that only can be handled by the government. It allows advantage at one level of government that has been denied at another level (Mack, 5). Therefore, lobbing adheres to the United State s Constitution s First Amendment right to petition the government and aids in the legislative process that has become so complex in today s ever-changing society.

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