K Street firms got little respite this past quarter, between lobbying on the debt ceiling early in the summer and then quickly shifting their focus to the "super committee," recently released lobbying reports show.
A little more than 200 registrants listed either "Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction" — the official name of the powerful budget cutting panel — or "super committee" on lobbying disclosures filed with the Senate Office of Public Records. The filings were released on Thursday, Oct. 20. The third quarter reports also show some overlap between the organizations that listed both the debt ceiling and the super committee on their disclosures.
The threat of massive changes to health care, taxes or defense prompted companies in those fields to lead the way in lobbying the super committee, which faces a Thanksgiving deadline to cut up to $1.2 trillion from the budget over 10 years.
For example, AARP, the senior citizens advocacy group, spent $2.75 million to lobby on both the debt ceiling and the super committee on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security issues in an attempt to exclude major cuts to the social insurance programs. The pharmaceutical company Pfizer was another client registered to lobby on deficit reduction and the super committee; it spent $3.3 million on lobbying in the third quarter on super committee-related issues, among several others. In 2011, the company spent more than $7.4 million lobbying.
Among defense contractors and big corporations facing the threat of major cutbacks to their contracts, IBM lobbied on “Tax issues as discussed in the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction aka Supercommittee” while US Airways lobbied on “Proposals to increase airline taxes and fees which are under consideration by the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (the Supercommittee).”
The medical industry was also actively lobbying during the debt ceiling debate in the second quarter of 2011. For instance, PhRrma, a trade association representing the pharmaceutical industry, along with insurance giants Blue Cross Blue Shield, both listed the debt ceiling negotiations as an issue last quarter, and super committee issues in the third quarter.
The lobbying group Tarplin, Downs & Young, LLC, which focuses on healthcare lobbying and advertises its partners' close connections with Congress, lists several clients lobbying on supercommittee-related issues. Partners at the firm have worked for various healthcare committees in Congress and the firm's clients include at least 12 healthcare companies and industry groups.
Although recent news reports indicate that the super committee could miss its deadline to decide on cuts, thus triggering automatic cuts to defense and domestic spending programs, the lobbying records listed below show which companies, trade groups, and lobbyists have been most active on these issues — and likely will continue to be as Congress wrestles with these issues.