According to a report by The Atlantic, lobbyists have been spending huge amounts in the US to influence the politicians . Big corporations in the US now spend almost $2.6 billion a year on lobbying expenditures, with more than 70% of the amount (or $1.8 billion) going to fund the activities of the House of Representatives.
To demonstrate how huge this figure is, consider this: the amount spent on lobbying the political decision-makers in the United States (which includes those sitting in the House and the Senate) is more than the combined budget of both these pillars of the government.
Is that something that’s bad? Of course not.
Lobbyists spend this amount for causes that would positively impact their clients in general, and the public in particular. If you have doubts about this statement, the below-mentioned examples should clear your mind in how lobbying influence politicians to help the general public.
1. By funding public advocacy groups
Public advocacy groups consist of persons who share the same voice on any issue. They then use that voice to put pressure on the government. Lobbying firms, when they aren’t busy influencing the politicians directly, choose this indirect route of public advocacy to get what they want.
– How it helps politicians: When politicians, under pressure from lobbyists, pay heed to public advocacy groups, they are in fact listening to their voters. That allows them to secure more votes and strengthen existing ones for the upcoming elections. And that’s everything a politician wants as it helps them stay in power.
– How it helps the public: Needless to say that public advocacy groups consist of common people. These people, when they are supported by funding from a lobbying firm, are able to raise their voice in a much better way. That, in turn, increases the likelihood that their demands will be met by those sitting in the corridors of power.
2. By sponsoring think tanks
A good report which states facts in support of the cause of lobbyists goes a long way in helping them put pressure on the government, and influence the interests. They can use that report to strengthen their case in the court of public opinion and, later on, in the corridors of power.
– How it helps politicians: Imagine you’re elected. There is an outbreak of certain disease whose cause cannot be found. Won’t you be thankful to the lobbyists if they could come up with a report identifying the cause and the solution? All politicians will; as acting on the report’s recommendations will allow them to make their voters happy.
– How it helps the public: Say you want your government to deliver medicines which treat life-threatening diseases free of cost. You can hold a placard and post on Facebook all you want, but your voice will be better heard if you have the support of a lobbying firm whose manpower and capital can elevate your voice to the echelons of power.
Critics of lobbying like to slam the whole profession for being infested with corrupt practices. That’s the funny thing about lobbying. You might dismiss lobbyists as special as long as they aren’t protecting your interests. However, as suggested by the abovementioned examples, the end-winners of lobbying practices are the common people who would be lost without them.