If Democrats regain the House or Senate in November, will the lobbyist-industrial complex known as K Street turn left or lose business?
The answer: yes, a little, but no, not much.
K Street has boomed under George W. Bush. Today there are twice as many registered lobbyists, 30,000, as there were six years ago. Every $1 million spent on lobbying, estimates the Carmen Group, reaps $100 million in government rewards.
Naturally certain industries, such as oil and pharmaceutical companies, may get fewer handouts if Republicans lose Congress. But many lobbyists are prepping for a smooth transition. Major lobbying firms are courting Democrats and vice versa. Odds are, K Street will only continue to grow.
In a great Washington Post story on Sunday, Jeffrey Birnbaum examined the many reasons why. “Now, more than ever,” he writes, lobbyists are “a permanent and pervasive force in Washington.”
Following the Jack Abramoff scandal, Congress couldn’t even pass a toothless bill aimed at cleaning up the most odious forms of institutional corruption.
Republicans are mostly to blame for the death of lobbying reform. But both parties have helped lobbyists thrive. If Democrats don’t challenge K Street, they’ll only encourage it.