Taxes & Spending

Taxpayer-Funded Lobbyists on the Prowl

Wait, this can’t be. It goes against all of the (liberal) rules. City and county governments occasionally lobby other levels of government (e.g., state and federal levels) about issues important to the residents of those cities and counties.

And now come reports that those local governments are paying for their lobbying efforts with taxpayer dollars.

The Dallas Morning News reports that, “Public entities in Texas spend between $10 million and $23 million a year on private lobbyists to push projects and defend their interests in Austin.”

The New York Times says that, “Since 1998, the number of public entities hiring private firms to represent them in Washington has nearly doubled to 1,421 from 763 . . .”

That’s just not how things are supposed to work!

See, the mainstream (liberal) media regularly portray lobbyists as cunning, corrupt special-interest people, employed by for-profit companies or industries, whose work consists primarily of undermining the public interest.

That’s why the term “lobbyist” has taken on a negative connotation. It’s usually said with a sneer in the voice, which is why the media are shocked that local governments would use them.

“Leading our top story for this hour, today it was learned that some fat-cat lobbyists (sneer) were trying to stop the federal government from imposing new regulations on their industry intended to protect the public and keep prices low.”

But anyone who has dealt with government very long knows that government-imposed regulations or taxes often do nothing to protect the public and can actually increase costs.

What the cities and counties that send lobbyists to statehouses and to Washington have recognized is this: It’s common for one government entity to push for special legislation that gives it an advantage over another government entity, or the private sector.

It happens that way in business, as well.

The real problem is that that government (city, county, state and federal) is so involved in our lives—handing out or taking away money, imposing more or reducing restrictions and regulations, etc.—that almost everyone has to have lobbyists to protect their own interests, including other governments.

There is nothing inherently good or bad about the constitutionally protected right to lobby; lobbyists are a result of more and more people and groups looking to government to solve most of their problems. And as that reliance on government grows—as it seems to be doing—you can expect your local governments to spend even more of your taxpayer dollars ensuring their voice is heard.

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