Please Explain: Lobbying

Friday, April 27, 2012

It's estimated that over $3 billion was spent on lobbying efforts last year. On this week's Please Explain, Alex Blumberg from NPR's Planet Money describes how lobbying works, the role that all that money plays in politics, and what kind of influence that money buys. Call us at 212-433-9692 with your questions, or leave them in a comment below!


Alex Blumberg

Comments [20]

"Small Group Democracy" is sampling - just 100,000 people voting for us. No need to advertise to 100,000 people. That would get lots of money out of the system. It doesn't get rid of lobbying, just the need for so much money to advertise elections.

Apr. 27 2012 01:57 PM
PetC from Queens

Please validate taking private money AND public tax dollars?

Apr. 27 2012 01:57 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Interesting call about how NYC lobbies Albany. And yet the city seems to get so little back from the state, from the ability to regulate rents to help paying Medicare/Medicaid costs.

Apr. 27 2012 01:55 PM
John A.

Episode 461? That 10 minute segment at the end with McCain & Feingold both speaking out against Citizens United, and talking about the arrogance of Scalia. Priceless!

Apr. 27 2012 01:54 PM
peter c from 'queens

public servant should be paid with our taxes ONLY. What is the validation to take private dollars?

Apr. 27 2012 01:54 PM
gene from NYC

Blumberg brushes up against my main problem with term limits: Professional lobbyists not only know all about a particular issue, they also know all about how the legislature works.

Thus, lobbyists are invaluable to a new legislator.

Apr. 27 2012 01:54 PM
shelli from New Jersey

Although Labor Unions may be able to underwrite a few important campaigns (like the recall of Scott Walker) there is no comparison to the tsunami of money that comes from the industries who have no social agenda in mind (other than making as much money as possible from any society they get involved with) I think thier only conscience is like that of a parasite, they don't want to totally kill off the body that provides thier sustenance.

Apr. 27 2012 01:54 PM
Peter Calma from queens

95% of people are doing what they believe? what do they believe?

Apr. 27 2012 01:53 PM

There is a lot of lobbying bashing going on when talking about corporations. What about groups like AIPAC, which advocate on behalf of a foreign country, which at times pushes for legislation or positions that may not be beneficial to the United States.

Apr. 27 2012 01:48 PM
Shelli from west orange, nj

I hear this broadcast with a lurch in my stomach.There is no democracy in the U.S., only the influence that money can buy, and those with money have only self interest in mind. WHat CAN we, the people do to change this disastrous situation? We see the detrimental sell off of public institutions like prisons, roads, and the steady trumpeting to "privatize" schools, pensions, healthcare. What can the public do to roll back this crass sell out of society?

Apr. 27 2012 01:44 PM
Jessie from UWS

On the recent issue of SOPA a lot of protesters assumed they had influence in bringing the legislation down. On a closer look it seems the likes of Google and American Express who opposed it got it shut down. It turned out SOPA was corporation vs. corporation can your guest speak this?

Apr. 27 2012 01:41 PM
Steve Fournier from Hartford, CT

The Citizens United case had nothing to do with political action committees or with donations to political candidates or even with so-called "corporate personhood." The case involved the broadcast of a movie critical of Hillary Clinton on HBO. The Federal Elections Commission got HBO to refuse to broadcast the movie in the days preceding a primary election by threatening to prosecute the network for a felony. The prior restraint on the broadcast was a violation of the First Amendment free speech guarantee. Have a guest on sometime who has actually read the case.

Apr. 27 2012 01:40 PM
Peter Calma from Queens

Lobbying is Bribery. There is no other way to look t it.

Apr. 27 2012 01:37 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Corporations & unions are both permitted to make certain types of political contributions w/no limit under the Citizens United decision. How similar are they when it comes to lobbying? And how is the way groups like Common Cause or Public Citizen lobby different?

Apr. 27 2012 01:37 PM
ML from Rockland County, NY

If campaigns were paid for equitably by the government, would there still be a need for lobbyists ? Too much money is used to bribe congressmen to legislate in support of the lobbyist's group.

Apr. 27 2012 01:36 PM
gene from NYC

It is NOT "like waiters giving 10% to the bus boys."

Bus boys work like dogs, for virtually no money, and well deserve a small share of the waiters' tips--they are really partners in servicing the tables and making sure they're cleared and clean for the next party.

It is more like waiters having to kick-back their tips to the restaurant owners/managers--as is the case, still, in many restaurants, including most famously the old Windows on the World when it first opened in the 70s.

Apr. 27 2012 01:28 PM
tom from astoria

The term "lobbyist" originated in the lobby of the Willard Hotel, two blocks from the White House. Influence peddlers in the 19th C. used to congregate there.

Apr. 27 2012 01:28 PM
Straight from LA from LA

This is one of my favorite This American Life shows. Congratulations Alex - absolutely insightful at so many levels.

Apr. 27 2012 01:25 PM
John A.

Did Political ads in Newspapers of Radio have much effect?
Is there any significant history of lobby money before television?

Apr. 27 2012 01:24 PM

Wired magazine this month has an article promoting "small group democracy" as a way to get the money out of politics. Could it work?

Apr. 27 2012 01:23 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.