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Lobbyists About to Cash in Big Time With Debt Ceiling Deal

August 4, 2011

It’s bad enough that the debt limit plan just passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barak Obama is a surrender of some basic democratic and progressive principles such as being limited to spending cuts, thus making new government job creation initiatives nearly impossible, not including any increases of revenues by making the rich and corporation pay their fair share, not providing funds for unemployment benefit extensions, failing to extend the payroll tax cut, leaving Medicare vulnerable to cuts and may end up costing the economy 1.8 million jobs by 2012, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

While Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), head of the Congressional Black Caucus, criticized the plan stating, “This deal is a sugar-coated satan sandwich,” for K Street lobbyists, the debt ceiling plan may be their new cash cow.

According to the Washington Post, health-care and defense lobbyists are quickly gearing up for a major lobbying and public relations campaign in response to this week’s debt-limit deal, which could force hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts for two of Washington’s most powerful industries.

The plan includes $1.2 trillion in mandatory cuts over the next decade if Congress can’t agree on a broader deficit reduction plan by December. Most of that amount targets the Pentagon and Medicare providers.

With a 12 member Congressional “super” committee charged with coming up with future funding and budget cut proposals, this promises many more legislative fights to come, involving just about every deep-pocketed interest in town: hospitals, doctors, military contractors, big business, small businesses, seniors, investors, hedge funds, etc. Tax reform, which Obama has effectively vowed to force in some form by the end of 2012, threatens higher taxes on every business, investor and wealthy person.

If the committee members agree on a plan, both houses of Congress would be required to give it an up or down vote — no amendments — giving the committee’s choices huge importance.

If Congress doesn’t pass a second round of deficit reduction, a trigger cuts $1.2 trillion over 10 years. Fully half of that comes from defense spending.  The other half of the trigger comes from domestic spending. But supposedly Social Security, Medicaid and a few other programs for the poor are exempted.

Once the committee members are named, they will find themselves immediately surrounded by sharks in the form of lobbyists. And while the potentially impacted special interests will have access and influence over this committee through their lobbyists, seniors, disabled, veterans, working families and the poor will, once again, be on the outside looking in.

With Republican Congressional leaders responsible for appointing committee members already stating they will only chose people committed to opposing any tax increases and Democratic leaders stating their people will be opposed to any further cuts to entitlement and safety net programs, it appear this committee is headed for deadlock.

“The power of the entire Congress is being placed in the hand of just 12 members,” David DiMartino, a Washington media and political consultant said. “You are going to see [campaign contribution] checks and requests for meetings flying furiously.”

Ellen Miller, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, which tracks money in politics, predicted that the deficit-reduction talks will produce a “lobbying-palooza” on Capitol Hill.

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