Money Out of Politics!

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.

Patrick Brennan — Patrick Brennan is a writer and policy analyst based in Washington, D.C. He was Director of Digital Content for Marco Rubio's presidential campaign, writing op-eds, policy content, and leading the ...