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Lobbyists and the Obama Administration

January 31, 2010

During his campaign for President in 2008, Barack Obama promised to make it more difficult for Lobbyists to operate in Washington politics. The President also made putting restrictions on Lobbyists part of his State of the Union address last week, but what was the track record of Lobbyist in the first year of the new administration.

A few days ago the Center for Responsive Politics reported that, “More than 15,600 companies and organizations spent at least $3.2 billion on federal lobbying in 2009.

“Additionally, CRP preliminarily found that the health- and health insurance-related companies and organizations spent more than $537.5 million on federal lobbying in 2009, an increase of about four percent above their 2008 spending — a sum that will certainly increase after the final reports are tallied.”

The data certainly shows there has been an increase of Lobbyist spending in the first year of the Obama administration and it should be noted that not all the data for 2009 on lobby spending has been reported yet.

Pharmaceutical and health product companies look to be the largest industry spender on lobbying in 2009, spending at least $245 million. Other big spenders include the oil and gas industry, the insurance industry and electric utilities, all of which spent more than $135 million on lobbying in 2009.

The top lobbying clients were all groups that have actively opposed or tried to water down major legislative proposals pushed by President Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, with $144.46 million spent on lobbying; Exxon Mobil, with $27.43 million spent on federal lobbying and the drug industry trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), which spent $26.15 million.”

The US Chamber of Commerce is always near the top of lobbying efforts since they represent broad business interests, and it should not be surprising that big oil and drug companies are also at the top of the list considering that the White House and Congress proposed both Health Care and Climate legislation.

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