Knock-Knock, Who’s there? Your Lobbyist–That’ll be $625, Please

Lobbyists -- silly, necessary

As I’ve stated before, I work in the Government Affairs arena. I’m fortunate enough to see all sides of government and get to partake in the sausage making process from slaughter to digestion!

That being said, when the days get long or I start to lose my faith in Congress and the Legislature (here in CA – how can you not?); I open a favorite book of mine and take a gander. The Federalist Papers you say? The Complete Collection of Thomas Jefferson’s writing? No, try something a little more modern the Daily Show’s: ‘America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction’. If you don’t have a sense of humor about government — or a sense of humor, period — try reading it. Even though it is a few years old, there are plenty of current themes to be applied to today’s wild political climate.

One of my favorite sections is called “Meet Your Lobbyist (page 70-71),” which has a very interesting tie to today’s number-one issue on the agenda: healthcare. On the page are 12 name tags with brief descriptions (and satirical humor) about some of the leading lobbying and advocacy groups. If it’s not any surprise, 4 of the 12 are associated with healthcare (pharmaceuticals, AARP, Planned Parenthood, and Labor) and this book was published in 2004.

Now for the three of you who have read my previous entries [ed. note — HEY! Watch it!], you’re probably saying, “another healthcare piece—this writer needs a life.” However, the truth is that I keep returning to the healthcare debate for two reasons: 1) it is a perfect example of how our system works; and 2) it is a perfect example that our system still does work–even when times are tough.

In case you’ve forgotten your 12th-grade civics: the United States has a very deliberative system of government. Even when it seems that Congress is rushing a new program through in the middle of the night, the process remains whole. Congress deliberates naming a post office (and I’m not kidding) for months before acting. The problem, as I’ve alluded to above, is that most Americans do not know or understand the process. This is why groups of people are bound together to protect their “special interests,” and hire a lobbyist to represent them. Is there anything wrong with this? No. In fact, if you consider the act, there is nothing more American than to hire someone else to do your heavy lifting.

As for proof that we are still a Representative Republic (not a Democracy)–where we, the public, elect office holders to make decisions and hold them accountable through the electoral process–the healthcare debate is just a perfect example. The public is engaged; the Administration has outlined a policy; Congress is deliberating and debating different proposals; and we’re reading, thinking, and voicing our opinions.

That’ll be $300 please. Oh and if you don’t believe me that Congress debates post office naming for months, visit the House Office of the Majority Leader–and sign up to receive email alerts called the Nightly Leader or Whip Reports. That’ll be another $100.

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