Boom Time on K Street

Advocates of health care reform and other big government programs, this is the business you have chosen:

Main Street has had a tough year, losing jobs and seeing little evidence of the economic revival that experts say has already begun.

But K Street is raking it in.

Washington’s influence industry is on track to shatter last year’s record $3.3 billion spent to lobby Congress and the rest of the federal government — and that’s with a down economy and about 1,500 fewer registered lobbyists in town, according to data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics….

Plenty of sectors have scaled back their K Street spending, including traditional big spenders like real estate and telecommunications. But Obama’s push for legislation on health reform, financial reform and climate change has compensated for the grim economic times.

And that’s after Obama kicked off the year with a massive economic stimulus package — and every major business sector tried to get a piece of the action. …

“If lobbying the federal government did not work, people wouldn’t spend money doing it,” [Dave Levinthal, a spokesman for CRP] said.

Lay out a picnic, you get ants. Hand out more wealth through government, you get lobbyists. As Craig Holman of the Ralph Nader-founded Public Citizen says: “the amount spent on lobbying … is related entirely to how much the federal government intervenes in the private economy.”

More on the lobbying bonanza in President Obama’s Washington here. Back in 2001 David Laband and George McClintock tried to estimate the total costs to society of efforts to effect forced transfers of wealth in their book The Transfer Society.