The mantra on the left is if it moves, tax it. That is how progressives believe a country is run, whether you are rich or poor, black or white, young or old. You are another cog in the wheel, working 37.1 hours per week and commuting to your job on the train watching fellow passengers clip their fingernails and eat chicken korma at 6 a.m. Why? To feed the beast. So far, the Democrats have seemingly run out of space on their enemies’ list, but they were able to use the margins and come up with a new tax target: lobbyists.
The Best Money Can’t Buy
Trying to build on her campaign slogan of “the best money can’t buy,” Sen. Warren has a new proposal: Slap a tax on the money corporations and trade associations spend to lobby the federal government. It is unclear if she would target unions as well.
Warren would institute a 35% levy on lobbying outlays totaling between $500,000 and $1 million. This swells to 60% for every dollar that tops $1 million, and then 75% for anything surpassing $5 million. According to her campaign, this penalty would generate millions in revenues; if it would have been implemented for the last decade, then Boeing would have forked over $115 million and AT&T would have been punished $112 million.
She said in a statement:
“Nobody will be surprised that the top five industries that would have paid the highest lobbying taxes are the same industries that have spent the last decade fighting tooth and nail against popular policies: Big Pharma, health insurance companies, oil and gas companies, Wall Street firms, and electric utilities.”
The tax revenues would be allocated to a Lobbying Defense Trust Fund that would fund federal agencies, like the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Warren also proposed establishing a new Office of the Public Advocate, a federal program that assists citizens to engage with federal bodies.
Brother, Can You Spare Some Speech?
But legal experts have some reservations about the senator’s plan. There is a concern that the tax would be unconstitutional, positing that it could violate the First Amendment. Under the constitution, citizens are granted the right to “petition the government for a redress of grievances,” a legal definition of modern lobbying.
The consensus is that if a President Warren introduced such a tax, it would be struck down by either the Supreme Court or the lower courts since it undermines the First Amendment.
That said, some other legal minds say that petitioning Washington is quite different than the current state of lobbying.
Maggie Blackhawk, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, told Time magazine: “There is no constitutional right to an unregulated, opaque and informal access to the Congress or to any legislature. That’s not what the petition clause was drafted to protect.”
Although it might contradict the current makeup of the Democratic Party, the best way to remove the practice is to shrink the size of the government.
Government Encourages Lobbying
One of President Donald Trump’s first acts in the White House was to issue an executive order that banned administration officials from lobbying the US government on behalf of a foreign government. He also installed a five-year ban on other forms of lobbying. It was part of his efforts to drain the Swamp.
Whether it is Warren’s tax or Trump’s ban, the measures may or may not work to quash the practice. Lobbyists are smart and influential professionals who can navigate Capitol Hill better than the depraved perverts in Jeffrey Epstein’s mansion. They will certainly find loopholes, use other creative means, or take advantage of pre-bribes. Put simply, laws and taxes might not do much to rein in the multi-billion-dollar industry.
So, what would work? That’s easy: small government.
The reason lobbyists can persuade policymakers, encourage adjustments to bills, or just influence the legislative process in the first place is that the government is enormous. Since the government has intervened in every sector of the economy and the personal lives of all its citizens, lobbyists are incentivized to poke, nudge, and wink at legislators.
If the politicians stuck to the Founding Fathers’ intent of limited government, then lobbyists would be throwing their money away. In fact, they might be out of work, since there would not be anything they could do. The smaller the government, the less of a need to petition it.
Let’s Meet in the Lobby
Lobbying has been a bipartisan issue for years as both sides have rebuked the process. What is fascinating, however, is that elephants and donkeys both participate in the circus. Nobody is immune from taking a high-salary position at a lobbying firm once they retire from public office. But is lobbying as wrong as the public thinks?
There are many misconceptions about the job, which is just another way of being an activist, except you wear a suit, earn six-figures, and take showers.
Contrary to popular opinion, lobbyists do not drop briefcases of cash in front of politicians’ houses to get them to change their minds. They typically engage with those who already share ideological or political values. You’re not going to see the National Rifle Association (NRA) leave bags of money on the doorsteps of Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) or Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s (D-NY) office on Capitol Hill. And, it is not Exxon Mobil or Johnson & Johnson dominating the industry either – it is the US Chamber of Commerce ($94.8 million), the National Association of Realtors ($72.8 million), and the Open Society Policy Center ($31.52 million).
Let’s be honest: If a mega-corporation employed a lobbyist and spent $100 million trying to create more freedom, shrink government, or stop the statists’ blitzkriegs to erode liberty, then it is certainly a legitimate action and should be applauded. For now, lobbying might not achieve long-term gains in the freedom fight, but some of the libertarian-leaning pushes could yield short-term benefits to alleviate the stranglehold the Leviathan has on the 320 million people in the Land of the Free.
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