How Lobbyists Win in Washington

[From “How the Lobbyists Win in Washington” by Jeff Madrick, a review of Lee Drutman’s The Business of America Is Lobbying:]

…there are two crucial points that are disturbing. The first is that business spends $34 on lobbying for every dollar spent by likely opponents such as labor unions and other interest groups.

The second point is, I think, Drutman’s most important. It may once have been adequate for lobbyists to provide business clients access to the right people. Today, however, they also must develop expertise on major political issues, so that they can provide policymakers with research, draft legislation, and pass on up-to-the-minute information. Lobbyists, not [government] staffers … are now the major source of information for Congress and the executive branch on major legislative issues. In one survey, two thirds of congressional staffers said they depend on lobbyists for the information they need to make legislative decisions and pass bills. Thus lobbying grows because Congress, and often the executive branch, needs lobbyists.

[Of course, we know that information is power. The rest is behind a paywall at New York Review of Books.]

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