Our friends at the Center for Responsive Politics have released updated numbers of 2006 lobbying. They note that lobbyists disclosed that they were paid some $2.45 billion in 2006 to influence Congress and the executive branch of government–which amounted to a mere 1.7 percent increase over 2005. The dot-com like surge of lobbyist expenditures of the previous year (from $2.19 billion in 2004 to $2.41 million in 2005, according to the chart) wasn’t repeated, but there’s also no indication that K Street spending is a bubble about to burst.
What surprised me–still surprises me–is not necessarily the shocking news that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ran up a $72.7 million tab on federal lobbying in 2006, far outstripping the $39.8 million spent the year before, or that pharmaceutical, biotech and health products firms once again spent more than any other industry, more than $165 million in 2006. Rather, it’s that here we are in the third month of 2007, watching measures be introduced on everything from increasing government transparency to raising the minimum wage to whether the government can negotiate over the price of prescription drugs, and we still haven’t closed the books on 2006 lobbyists:
The Center’s researchers have noted that year-end reports for some spenders who filed mid-year reports are not yet available, so the figures and rankings on OpenSecrets.org and in this news release are subject to change. According to [the Senate Office of Public Records], about 93 percent of the expected year-end reports have entered the office’s online public disclosure system.
Would it be asking too much to know about 2006 lobbying in 2006, when it’s actually still going on? All that information and more, by the way, comes from the Center.