Political Hay

A Piece of the Action

Have you ever wished you could profit from all the lobbying and influence peddling going on in Washington?

By 12.28.05

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Have you ever wished you could profit from all the lobbying and influence peddling going on in Washington?

Well, now you can. Read on for more details.

It seems like every time you pick up a newspaper, somebody else is making millions in Washington -- the corporations, the unions, the environmentalists, you name it. If it's not the Clintons selling nights in the Lincoln Bedroom, it's Tom DeLay's K Street Project demanding that all the associations in town hire Republican lobbyists.

Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff raised more than $5 million in six years, mostly from Indian tribes, and handed out lavishly around town -- to Republican senator Conrad Burns and Democratic congressman Patrick Kennedy and a host of other recipients. A million dollars went to Republican committees and $750,000 to Democratic committees. Some of the rest paid for golf trips to Scotland, luxury boxes at hockey games, private planes, and lavish salaries for lobbyists.

Yes, there's a lot of money sloshing around Washington. Federal spending is up 33 percent in five years, to an unimaginable $2.6 trillion. People will pay a lot of money to get their hands on that kind of money, and that's where the lobbyists come in.

As political scientist John J. Pitney, Jr. said about Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, who recently resigned from Congress and admitted to taking $2.4 million in bribes: "It's amazing that somebody in Congress that long could be that stupid.... If he wanted to make a ton of money, all he needed to do was retire from Congress and become a lobbyist."

But you're not a congressman. So how can you get in on these deals? We're getting there.

Some say high tech is coming back, or health care is the new growth area. But look at the growth in government.

As resources are pulled from around the country to the capital, Washington is thriving. Real estate prices have risen 89 percent in five years. Three of the four richest counties in America are Washington suburbs. Only two states had faster income growth last year than Washington, D.C.

Most of the federal government's activity involves taking money from some people, giving it to others, and keeping a big chunk here in Washington as a handling fee.

Every business and interest group in society has an office in Washington devoted to getting some of that $2.5 trillion federal budget for itself -- senior citizens, farmers, veterans, teachers, social workers, oil companies, bee keepers, labor unions, you name it. Walk down K Street, the heart of Washington's lobbying industry, and look at the directory in any office building. They're all full of lobbyists and associations that are in Washington for one reason: because that's where the money is.

The number of registered lobbying firms is up from 1,701 to 2,060 in the past six years. The number of companies with lobbyists is up 58 percent in the same period. And the amount of money officially spent by lobbyists has risen from $1.4 billion to $2.1 billion a year.

So how can you get in on this growth industry? Well, that's the good news.

A venture capitalist named Kenneth P. Ducey Jr. is trying to buy up some of those 2,000 lobbying firms and take them public. That means you could buy stock in a lobbying firm. And the next time you pick up the paper and read about congressmen being flown to Hawaii or Scotland, or free liquor at Capitol Hill receptions, you can know that your investment is hard at work creating a new tariff or entitlement or tax or subsidy for some special interest.

Sure, the taxpayers pay for all that. But you'll be on the inside, profiting from every subsidy and regulation as Washington's parasite economy grows and grows. Every man a king? Not likely. But now every man can be a lobbyist, or at least get a piece of the action.

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