Lobbying has continued to grow over the last 40 years. Prior to the 1970s, very few businesses had lobbyists in Washington. Now, corporations spend just under $3 billion per year on lobbying expenditures. The reason so much money is spent by companies on lobbying is simple. It’s an investment with a guaranteed return that cannot be matched by banks or the stock market. Between 2007 and 2012, the top 200 lobbying organizations spent $5.8 billion. Over the same period their ROI was $4.5 trillion.
As you pursue a degree in political management, it’s important to learn why lobbying is necessary in today’s world. Whether you want to become a lobbyist or you are simply preparing for future negotiations with them, lobbyists are a set you will likely always encounter in politics.
The following are some of the top industries employing lobbyists.
Lobbyists work with Congress and other public officials to attempt to help pass legislation that is favorable to their industry and to block legislation that is not.
Pharmaceuticals is an industry that consistently ranks #1 for engaging in lobbying. In 2015, the industry spent over $230 million on lobbying efforts. In just the first three months of that year, $64 million was spent to influence federal policies because of the new Congress (which afforded new opportunities to wield influence with fresh, new lawmakers).
Ultimately, the pharmaceutical industry would like to avoid regulations that would reduce its profits, and it leverages its considerable political influence via its lobbyists to do so.
The second largest lobbying industry is insurance. Though this industry includes auto, home, and life insurance, it’s the lobbying efforts on behalf of the health insurance industry that keep it at the top of the ranks. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act came significant changes to the health insurance industry, as well as the opportunity to persuade politicians to vote a certain way regarding these changes.
Climate change is another reason the insurance industry lobbies politicians heavily. With more storms, hurricanes and severe floods than ever before, the insurance industry wants legislators to help them pay less in payouts to customers.
Oil and Gas
Over the last 30+ years, science has revealed that certain natural resources are limited and contribute to climate change and pollution. The oil and gas industry, like the cigarette industry of the past, does not want this to impact its bottom line. Accordingly, they have lobbied politicians to avoid legislating on this fact.
In order to slow the legislation that would reduce dependence on fossil fuels, oil and gas lobbyists work hard to keep our cars running on gas for as long as possible.
Lobbying has become as much a part of Washington politics as senate hearings and House voting. There is too much money in the game for it to slow down at any point in the near future. To learn more about the process, visit The George Washington University online.