“You can’t ask a family or a nurse from California to fly here and spend as much time as we do lobbying on a particular issue. That’s why they belong to their national associations.” - Paul Miller, American League of Lobbyists
“Let’s ask why we don’t have health care and let’s ask why we don’t have lower gas prices. Because the lobbyists have stopped it. Look what the auto industry did on fuel economy. Look what the American Medical Association and the insurance industry have done on health care. For 50 years, we haven’t had health care in this country because of lobbyists.” - Joan Claybrook, Public Citizen
“So if we don’t have health care, if we don’t have an energy policy, blame members of Congress, blame the administration. Don’t blame lobbyists, because, yes, we are paid, we go and meet with members of Congress and their staff to educate them, but we’re not buying them and we’re not the problem with this problem. ” - Paul Miller, American League of Lobbyists
“It’s a constitutional right to lobby. But the issue is that when you lobby and you also give money, then you do have a superior position in the members’ minds, because they’re always going to pay attention to getting money for their next election. It’s a crooked system; it shouldn’t exist. ” Joan Claybrook, Public Citizen
The role played by lobbyists in each of the top campaigns for president has become a hot button issue as the race to raise campaign cash intensifies. In this lively video debate, analysts debate the key role of lobbyists in campaigns and why the lobbying trade has taken on new scrutiny. Neither side objects to lobbyists presenting their case to law-makers. Their deep disagreement is about lobbyists making financial contributions to political campaigns.
What is a lobbyist? Who pays their salaries? Are all lobbyists paid? Why are there 14,000 registered lobbyists in Washington, D.C., many more than any other city? Speculate on the derivation of the word ‘lobby’. What is the argument for or against lobbying in general? If your class visited Washington D.C., would students be able to lobby elected officials about an important issue or pending bill in Congress? Is there a student association that lobbies Congress about student issues? How about education associations? What is the argument for or against allowing lobbying organizations to make contributions to political candidates? Why are Obama and McCain so sensitive about lobbyist connections to their presidential campaign?. What is Clinton’s counter argument? Whom do you agree with? Why?
Below are web links related to this story.
Analysis: Links to Lobbyists Pose Questions for Campaigns
Extra Story & Activities: Congress Debates Lobbying Reform
American League of Lobbyists
Public Citizen: Congress
Public Citizen: The White House for Sale
Common Cause: Money in Politics
Derivation of ‘Lobby’
Moyers on America: Lesson Plan: Capitol Crimes: Lobbying
The Civics Institute: Lesson Plan: Lobbying Power!
National Conference of State Legislatures: Lesson Plan: Whose Special Interests?