More than half of the federal lobbyists active in 2017 have worked on tax issues, according to a report issued today by Public Citizen that analyzes lobbying disclosure data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics (www.opensecrets.org).
Among the findings of the report, “Swamped”:
- A total of 6,243 lobbyists have been listed on lobbying disclosure forms as working on issues involving the word “tax” in 2017. That equals 57 percent of the lobbyists who have reported any lobbying activity in 2017 and is equivalent to more than 11 lobbyists for every member of Congress.
- Each of the 20 organizations hiring the most lobbyists on tax issues reported working on “tax reform” specifically, meaning their lobbying was relevant to the ongoing debate on overhauling the tax code. Corporate tax rates, repatriation of corporate profits, intra-organizational transfers of assets, deductibility of interest, and depreciation rules were among frequently listed topics among the organizations.
- Twenty corporations and trade associations have hired at least 50 lobbyists apiece. The organization hiring the most lobbyists to work on tax issues was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (100). The Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs of the nation’s largest corporations, deployed 51 lobbyists.
- Twenty-six industry sectors have hired at least 150 lobbyists each to work on tax issues, led by pharmaceuticals (653) and insurance (600).
- Five corporations have hired at least 15 separate lobbying firms in additional to their in-house lobbyists to work for them on tax issues so far in 2017: Comcast Corp. (23 firms), Anheuser-Busch (19), Verizon Communications, (17), Microsoft (16) and Altria Group (15).
- Thirty-one lobbyists with ties to President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence (mostly through working on the Trump campaign or transition) have worked on tax issues in 2017.
With their enormous complexity and high-stakes, tax issues are the buffet that keeps Washington’s swamp creatures fed.
The success of the nation’s largest corporations and wealthiest interests in shaping the tax debate to serve their interests shows that bankrolling the lobbyists’ feast is a small bill to pay in the grand scheme, emphasis on scheme.