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Topics Homepage> Members of Congress and the Executive Branch should have a lifetime lobbying ban.

Members of Congress and the Executive Branch should have a lifetime lobbying ban.

PRO (3 assertions)

 

Grabbers:

 

1st-- The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution clearly states the right to speech, which means that lobbying should be allowed. If we ban lobbying, wouldn't that be going against our Constitution?

 

2nd--A study shows that 99% of lobbyists are doing legitimate and honest work; one percent are the "pay to play" types. Why punish the rest of them for the greedy criminals like Jack Abramoff?



1. Assertion: Members of Congress and the Executive Branch make the wrong decisions because of the lobbyists giving them the wrong information.

Reasoning: They should not have their opinions changed by lobbyists, who have special interests. They should make decisions based on what they think is best for everyone and the whole country, not based on the interests of the lobbyists, who are hired to persuade the government to do certain things.

Evidence: An example is the recent battle between food industry lobbyists and health care lobbyists regarding school lunches. A group supported by the United States Department of Agriculture proposed healthier lunches as a way to combat childhood obesity by limiting the number of potatoes served, limiting salty foods, and adding more fresh vegetables, but this group was countered by a strong food lobby backed by Coca-Cola, Del Monte, and makers of frozen pizza. The food lobbyists succeeded in blocking the proposal reforms, even writing rules suggesting that the tomato paste on a pizza qualified as a vegetable. Pizza can be served to schoolchildren since tomato paste can be considered as a vegetable and part of a healthy meal. The lobbyists convinced them by bribing them with $5.6 million.

Source: slate.com, Lobbying Against the Too-Healthy School Lunchâ

2. Assertion: Members of Congress and the Executive Branch make decisions because the lobbyists bribe them.

Reasoning: The lobbyists will bribe them just so they do not change the existing policies. For example, the health care costs have skyrocketed, and the government has to find a way to contain the costs of health care. One major solution is to lower the cost of prescription medications. The cost of a medicine under the ten year patent law is $3 per pill. For an person to take one pill a day, they must pay $90 a month, which means that in a year, when they take one pill per day, they must pay $1080. In 2010, $307 billion was spent on prescription medication. However, the lobbyists do not want the price of prescription medication to lower because they are making so much money off of the higher priced pills.

Evidence: Health care and insurance lobbyists poured $210 million into television advertising. Drug companies spent more than $245 million on lobbying last year. The drug industry's powerful trade group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, devoted $26 million to lobbying and separately spent $120 million to $130 million for a television campaign and grass-roots activity. The oil and gas industry spent $155 million on lobbying last year. The American Hospital Association, which also supported an overhaul, spent $16.3 million on lobbying. Like the drug industry, the hospital association also made a pact with the White House, agreeing to give up $155 billion in Medicare payments over the next decade to help lower the cost of the overall package; in return, hospitals would get millions of new customers who would have insurance, so hospitals would have to provide less free care. The campaign against a health care overhaul was led by the United States Chamber of Commerce, which spent about $144 million on lobbying. They also spent an additional $50 million on television commercials.

Sources: Center for Responsive Politics; Evan Tracey, chief operating officer of the Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks television commercials; American Hospital Association; US Chamber of Commerce; New York Times, Pro or Con, Lobbying Thrivedâ

3. Assertion: Voters will get more power in the government due to this lobbying ban; thus, lobbying undermines democracy.

Reasoning: The job of officials in the Legislative and Executive branches is to act as messengers between the federal government and the people of the United States. However, when the members of Congress or the President's cabinet are lobbying, they're really only representing themselves. Furthermore, they are using the power that we gave them to promote their own personal interests in the government. There are no term limits for Representatives or Senators in Congress. If the people voted somebody out of the governments, then they obviously wanted something different. When those same people who were forced out return as lobbyists, they are no longer carrying the voice of the people. The average amount received by ex-members of Congress per client is more than $178,000. They're simply abusing their power and influence in the government to get what they want and earn more money, instead of what the rest of the people want. Allowing legislators to lobby in their own self-interest clearly undermines the voice of every American voter, and we need to establish this lifetime lobbying ban.

Evidence: Former Representative William D. Delahunt of Massachusetts started his own lobbying firm with an office on the 16th floor of a Boston skyscraper right after his term ended. One of his first clients was a small coastal town that has agreed to pay him $15,000 a month for help in developing a wind energy project. While in Congress, he personally earmarked $1.7 million for the same energy project. Today, his firm, the Delahunt Group, stands to collect $90,000 or more for six months of work from the town of Hull, on Massachusetts Bay, with 80 percent of it coming from the pot of money he created through Energy Department grants in his final term in office. This is a clear example of an ex-representative lobbying for the project he helped finance in Congress.

Source: The New York Times, FirstStreetResearch.com

CON (4 assertions)

Openers:

1st--Did you know that health care and insurance lobbyists spent more than $648 million in 2009?

2nd-- “Big business, for all its lobbying, is often put in line by investigative reporting, public scandals and multi-million-dollar judgments in court against those who put products on the market that are dangerous to their buyers,” said Stanley Crouch.

 

Define:

Members of Congress and the Executive Branch -- Senators, Representatives, the President, and his Cabinet advisors in the United States federal government

Lobby -- to attempt to influence or sway a member of Congress or the Executive Branch toward a desired action by bribing with money, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary

 

POIs:

Why do you think that 71% of American people are in favor of this lifetime lobbying ban for members of Congress (Rasmussen Report, 2011)?

 

Refutations:

 

AT: Free Speech--The negation's stated that this lobbying ban would restrict the rights of members of Congress and the Executive branch. Stan Lee once said, "With great power comes great responsibility." Federal legislators do have to sacrifice their individual self-interests in order to represent the American people. Because of the amount of power they are given to influence the lives of ordinary citizens, they must make decisions based on our interests and our welfare. That's why they took the job. Lobbying allows them to abuse their power and only look out for themselves. We clearly need to eliminate it so that our voices can be heard.

 

AT: Unnecessary--The negation has also stated that the lobbying ban is unnecessary because of the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995. Judge, all that this law requires is for lobbyists to register with the Secretary of the Senate or the Clerk of the House of Representatives. They literally only have to submit their names and contact information (The Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service). It does absolutely nothing to reduce the amount of corruption and dishonesty employed by our own government representatives.

1. Assertion: Lobbying allows more people, like minorities, to have a say in government.

Reasoning: James Madison said that with many groups with different groups, there would be no majority group overpowering everyone else. Lobbyists keep the majority from being too overpowering. Lobbying allows someone who is not a company executive to still speak up.

Evidence: There are more than 30,000 registered lobbyists in Washington. Among them, there are about 200 blacks, according to the Washington Government Relations Group, a black lobbying organization. The newly founded Hispanic Lobbyists Association counts 60 members in its group. An example of a minority who had a say in government is Michelle Rhee, a teacher. She lobbied for educational reform and ending teacher tenure. Another example is Flora Green of the Seniors Coalition.

Source: National Journal, Fewer Top Aides Are Minorities, Lobbyists

2. Assertion: Lobbying is a legitimate practice; it occurs in every sector

Reasoning: Lobbying occurs everywhere. Should we now start listing members of Congress who have abused their authority in the last decade alone? Or compile a similar list of judges, bankers, mortgage brokers, cops and rapacious corporate executives? The central point is that there are no more (nor fewer) lobbyists who have 'crossed the line' than from any other walk of life. There is not a single sector of the American economy that directly or indirectly doesn't have some sort of Washington representation. And that's good for the Republic.

Evidence: Lobbying is as American as apple pie, going back to colonial times. The Rev. Increase Mather lobbied in London for a new charter for Massachusetts. Benjamin Franklin was the colonial agent "lobbyist" for Pennsylvania and other colonies. When the federal government was created, lobbyists for varied interests naturally swarmed to the capital, first New York, then Philadelphia and Washington.

Source: Wall Street Journal; Washington Post

3. Assertion: A lobbying ban is against the right to petition and the freedom of speech in the first amendment of the US Constitution, which states the ability of individuals to lobby the government.

Reasoning: Lobbying is routed in historical democratic principles. The right by the people to petition government was a principle reaffirmed in 1776 in the Declaration of Independence and later in the Bill of Rights. Petitioning to hear individual grievances was a treasured right in the young American democracy, which gave most citizens a potential active role in how they were governed. The Constitution guarantees all of us the right to lobby, along with the right to practice religion freely, to express our opinions in public and to rally for a cause.

Evidence: The First Amendment states, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.â In 1967, the US Supreme Court stated, "[The] rights to assemble peaceably and to petition for a redress of grievances are among the most precious of the liberties safeguarded by the Bill of Rights. These rights, moreover, are intimately connected, both in origin and in purpose, with the other First Amendment rights of free speech and free press.â" Tom Korologos, a writer for the Wall Street Journal, stated, The concept of entitling citizens to petition their government did not originate with the authors of the Constitution. It was the product of centuries of Western political thought. [...] The Athenians of the 6th century B.C. instituted the right of an aggrieved party to have a case pleaded before the state by a third party. The Magna Carta included the right of the country's nobility to petition the throne. Christopher Columbus lobbied Isabella for the appropriations (probably the first U.S.-related earmark) for the boats to undertake his historic voyage.â

Source: US Constitution, First Amendment; Wall Street Journal, In Defense of Lobbying”

4. Assertion: Lobbyists benefit many people.

Reasoning: Non-profit organizations try to influence the government in contributing to important medical research to cure diseases. Without these lobbyists, the government might cut the research funds.

Evidence: An example is the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, which promotes funding for agencies such as the US National Institutes of Health. They are working to ensure that both US presidential candidates make research investment a top priority. Another example is the Ad Hoc Group for Medical research, which focuses exclusively on the National Institutes of Health funding. A third example is the Association of American Medical Colleges, systems. A fourth example is Research! America, which focuses on getting robust funding for which advocates on behalf of the 129 US medical schools and 400 teaching hospitals and health medical and health research and boosting public support for such projects. Its opinion polls have raised public awareness by showing, for example, that most people in the US favor the use of embryonic stem cells in medical research.

Source: nature.com, The Lobbying Landscape and Beyond: 15 Groups to Know”