Opponents of money in politics can finally rejoice. Politico reports that lobbying activity and dollars spent on persuading Congress is down significantly this quarter compared to the last:
The 50 largest lobbying spenders, including big corporations like AT&T and trade groups like the National Association of Realtors, collectively spent about $168 million lobbying Congress between April and June — a $30 million decline from their first quarter efforts, a POLITICO analysis of new lobbying disclosures indicates.
In some cases, the quarter-to-quarter lobbying dips are measured in seven-figures: AT&T spent $7.05 million during the year’s first quarter and $3.49 million during the second, while ExxonMobil dropped from $4.17 million to $2.77 million. For the same time periods, pharmaceutical companies Pfizer ($3.6 million to $2.3 million), Novartis ($2.75 million to $1.44 million) and Johnson & Johnson ($2.27 million to $1.2 million) are among those who also reported notable spending decreases.
What’s the reason — broader disclosure requirements? Stricter ethics rules? Actually, no, just less praeda being passed:
An increasingly idle Congress is causing atrophy in many of the nation’s most muscular political forces. . . .
Thank goodness for gridlock. In all seriousness, though, this dynamic is actually meaningful: Many prescriptions to counterbalance the influence of corporate influence tend to involve more spending, which is open to corporate capture, and more regulation, which is open to lobbyist manipulation; and ignore the possibility that, if government ran fewer programs, spent less, and passed less regulation, influence in government would be far less valuable to the wealthy and to corporations — that’s the only way to keep them out altogether.