As the country hurtles toward financial default and the government shutdown enters it's 16th day, one of the crucial elements surfacing in various GOP proposals to end the stalemate is a repeal of the medical device tax, passed as part of the Affordable Care Act. While the industry was not powerful enough to keep the tax out of Obamacare, it has waged a strong campaign since to win a repeal, employing Washington lobbyists-for-hire with deep Washington contacts. Meet some of these lobbyists via our Influence Explorer and Party Time tools.
Tarplin, Downs & Young. Cofounded in 2006 by a trio ...Continue reading
Because of some the work we’ve done before on last minute negotiations and divided government, Sunlight prepared the following graphic... View ArticleContinue reading
Congress may have averted the fiscal cliff, raising taxes on households making more than $450,000, ending the payroll tax holiday which will take a bite from workers' paychecks, and leaving the bigger issues of raising the debt ceiling, reforming entitlements and addressing federal spending to the next Congress. While the fiscal cliff deal results in a tax hike for all workers, some special interests preserved their favorite tax breaks the old fashioned way: lobbying and contributing to members of Congress.
Most of the goodies sprinkled through the American Taxpayer Relief Act have been on the wish lists of big ...Continue reading
As we expected, the culmination of the “fiscal cliff” negotiations was a rush to the finish line, in which policies... View ArticleContinue reading
The Sunlight Foundation, along with the Institute for Policy Innovation, OpenTheGovernment.org, Public Citizen and U.S. Public Interest Research Groups sent... View ArticleContinue reading
As “fiscal cliff” negotiations continue to slow to a standstill, Americans might be feeling frustrated about the inability of their representatives to reach a compromise. Wasn’t the election supposed to settle the argument? There are many reasons to explain the intransigence. Last week, we documented the ubiquitous lobbying on tax and budget issues that will almost certainly complicate any attempt to reach a deal. But there’s another factor to keep in mind: The majority of members of Congress have relatively homogenous constituencies. That means they’re probably hearing overwhelmingly from only one side of the argument back home, and facing limited pressure to find a compromise.Continue reading
This morning the Sunlight Foundation's Senior Fellow Lee Drutman joined Washington Journal to discuss the "fiscal cliff" and his analysis of the many powerful interests lobbying on this issue.Continue reading
Just like the debt limit negotiations and Supercommittee process that helped cause it, the so-called "fiscal cliff" of expiring laws is creating another round of secretive negotiations among our political leaders. The heads of both parties now thrive on stories of impending fiscal consequences, even when they're of their own making.To cope with a polarized electorate, our leaders have figured out a way to create an apparent impending disaster that is unpalatable regardless of one's ideology. Whatever the outcome of their fight with each other, they've created a dystopian future against which they can be made to look like heroes warding off impending doom with their brave bipartisanship.
It doesn't really matter which party started it (both of them) or whether this was avoidable (it was), because divided government has again led us to a place where the most important policy decisions are probably going to be made in secret, and then passed down to the rest of us.
While online disclosure and dialog don't threaten to take away politicians' power anytime soon, they do represent our best chance at elevating substance, rewarding merit, and reducing undue influence, whether in crafting legislation or in dealing with the struggles of divided government. Sunlight's approach to government transparency has made us skeptical observers of these political negotiations, and as we find ourselves entering yet another cycle, we decided to ask:
What can we expect of the next month, and what should we do about it?Continue reading
As the wheeling and dealing around the “fiscal cliff” continues to envelop Washington, thousands of lobbyists representing more than a billion dollars are watching. After all, any grand bargain on spending and revenue is will go right at the heart of two of the most heavily-lobbied issues in Washington: budget and taxes In the 112th Congress, 2,049 organizations have so far spent $619 million to lobby on tax issues, and 4,576 organizations have so far spent $576 million to lobby on federal budget and appropriations issues (totals are through the second quarter of 2012). Another 1,843 organizations have spent $234 million to lobby on defense issues (under the sequester, half of the cuts are slated for defense). Add it up, and and you have at least $1.3 billion in lobbying devoted to these three issues in the 112th Congress.Continue reading