Supercommittee Beseiged by Professional Lobbyists Representing 400 Companies

Health Sector Groups Most Aggressively Lobby the Supercommittee

By Michael Beckel
Open Secrets, November 2, 2011

During the third quarter of 2011, more than 400 companies, unions, trade associations and other groups reported lobbying the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, popularly known as the debt supercommittee, according to a new analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics of reports filed last month with the U.S. Senate.

These 400-plus groups represent a broad range of interests, but the No. 1 interest area among the clients with their sights on the supercommittee was the health sector.

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About 30 percent of these organizations — 118 groups in total  – were from the health sector, according to the Center’s research, an area that is facing steep cuts from the supercommittee.

Among these 118 organizations were deep-pocketed groups such as the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

The AMA, AHA and PhRMA were among the biggest spenders during the third quarter to explicitly mention the supercommittee’s work in their lobbying reports. However, it’s impossible to know how much money each organization invested on supercommitee-related lobbying. Federal law only requires groups to disclose one lump-sum figure for all their quarterly lobbying activity — which can often cover dozens of issues.

Outside of the health sector, other big spenders during the third quarter that mentioned the supercommittee include the National Association of Realtors, General Electric, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Comcast, Lockheed Martin and Royal Dutch Shell.

Notably absent from the list of companies that mentioned the supercommittee in their third-quarter lobbying reports was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has spent more on lobbying this year than any other organization.

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Behind the health sector, single-issue advocates and ideological groups ranked second. The AARP, Planned Parenthood, the Center for American Progress, the League of Conservation Voters, the National Council of La Raza, Taxpayers for Common Sense and Public Citizen were among the groups in this sector that explicitly mentioned lobbying the supercommittee during the third quarter.

Overall, 44 different ideological and single-issue groups reported lobbying the supercommittee, according to the Centers’ research — or about 11 percent of all groups.

The finance insurance and real estate sector ranked third, with 40 companies within that sector reporting lobbying activity during the third quarter that targeted the supercommittee. And 39 groups in the energy sector reported lobbying the supercommittee.

Both the communications and electronics sector and the general business sector saw 26 companies and organizations explicitly mention the supercommittee in their third-quarter lobbying reports.

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Also notably, 24 groups within the education industry reported targeting the supercommittee and 11 different municipal and local government agencies — including the city of Jacksonville, Fla.,; the city of Meridian, Miss.; the city of Minneapolis, Minn.; the city of New Orleans, La.; the city of Richmond, Va.; and the city of San Diego, Calif.

The exact number of organizations lobbying the supercommittee could be even higher as disclosure forms paint only a broad picture of lobbying activities.

Groups are required, for instance, to disclose on their quarterly LD-2 that they targeted the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate and to say that they lobbied on a broad issue such as “finance,” “taxes” or “banking.” But they do not have to specify which members of Congress, or whose staffers, with whom they met.

These LD-2 lobbying filings have an additional field for “specific issues” in which companies and groups can provide further details about the issues and legislation on which they lobbied. Bill titles and bill numbers are often given in this field, but not always. And at this time, the supercommittee doesn’t even have one set piece of legislation that companies could cite even if they wanted to.

The Center’s analysis examined LD-2 filings that explicitly cited the phrases “select committee,” “deficit reduction” or “super committee” in the specific issue field.

download_image.pngYou can see the full list of all 403 organizations and their sector and industry breakdown here: http://bit.ly/t91jLr.

Center for Responsive Politics researcher Sarah Bryner contributed to this report.

Source: Open Secrets
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