Main Entry: lob·by·ing
1: to conduct activities aimed at influencing public officials and especially members of a legislative body on legislation
1: to promote (as a project) or secure the passage of (as legislation) by influencing public officials
2: to attempt to influence or sway (as a public official) toward a desired action
It would be difficult to forget that time around a year ago when we taxpayers shelled out over $700 billion dollars to the automotive industry, insurance companies, and banks, saving them from bankruptcy and extensive layoffs in what is commonly referred to as the “bailout” (although technically, it was not bailouts given to GM and Chrysler, but bridge loans). It was controversial at the time and remains so today, and thanks to some research by The Huffington Post, the pot is about to be stirred again.
Twenty-five top recipients of government bailout funds spent more than $71 million on lobbying in the year since they were rescued, an extensive review of federal lobbying records by the Huffington Post reveals. … In all, during the last quarter of 2008 and the first three quarters of 2009, those 25 institutions spent $71,199,000 on lobbying. The list includes General Motors ($11.95 million), Citigroup ($8.915 million), Bank of America ($6.427 million), J.P. Morgan Chase ($7.735 million), Goldman Sachs ($4.38 million) and AIG ($3.47 million). Some of these companies have paid federal money back. Not all of the top bailout recipients, meanwhile, spent money on lobbying.
The amount that was spent, however, is nearly identical to the lobbying expenditures these same companies made during the year preceding the federal bailout. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, bailout recipients paid approximately $76.7 million for the services of lobbyists in 2008. All of which has sparked angry pushback from good government groups and lawmakers on the Hill, who ask whether the expenditures are appropriate after these institutions took the nation’s economy to the brink of collapse.
What leaves a unpleasantly salty taste in the mouths of many (besides lobbying in general, which is often a corrupt and unethical practice in America) is that this is taxpayer money these companies are using – and they are using it to lobby for legislation that taxpayers would not support, such as a bill that would put more restrictions on how these companies spend taxpayer money. Amusing. At least they aren’t lobbying to make Billy Graham the Supreme Chancellor of the United States of God, but they are lobbying for legislation that benefits them and potentially hurts the taxpayers whose very money they are using. I understand that it is no simple task, but these companies need to be held accountable for every penny that is spent.
The question here is this: should these companies be permitted to use bailout money for lobbying purposes in the first place?
Fun and Depressing Fact of the Moment: If the bank deposited .01% of that bailout into your bank account, you’d have 70 million extra bucks at your disposal.