Yesterday on NPR, Ari Shapiro interviewed lobbyist Paul Lee about the enormous number of lobbyists lobbying on health care, the money being spent on health care lobbying, and whether any messages will get through the cacophony of voices and the wads of cash being directed at the health care debate.
Mr. Lee thought that not only were lobbyists’ voices being heard, but that individuals, because they were reading the bills, were getting their messages to their representatives on the Hill as well.
SHAPIRO: But lots of people are being paid lots of money to shape lawmakers opinions in favor of things that are not necessarily in the best interests of most people.
Mr. LEE: Well, I’m not sure that’s the case. What has changed in the last five years in particular since I’ve been doing this is that millions of Americans are now reading this legislation online. That never used to happen. I think it’s a wonderful thing. And members of Congress are now looking at the scrutiny that’s happening because of this and making decisions now on the basis of, you know, I think most people are going to find out what’s in this bill, even the small things.
SHAPIRO: And do you think the feedback that members of Congress get from their constituents is comparable to the efforts that a quarter billion dollars were spent on to get the ear of lawmakers?
Mr. LEE: Yeah, I don’t think that there’s any question about that it is. I think that it’s at least equal to that. If an individual organization wants a piece of legislation that benefits their company, it sure better be something that can be clearly demonstrated that’s going to favorably impact the health care of thousands, millions of Americans.
Whether or not you agree with Mr. Lee’s assessment that constituents’ voices are as loud and clear as lobbyists’, it’s refreshing to hear from a lobbyist who is not afraid of opening up the debate on Capitol Hill to the rest of us and who encourages the public to Read the Bill.