Posts Tagged ‘state of the union’
Thursday, January 30th, 2014 by Vbhotla
MANY AMERICANS VIEW the State of the Union address as a lot of rhetoric and not much substance. But for lobbyists and policymakers, what the president does (or doesn’t) say can make or break an issue.
As POLITICO notes, if Obama even briefly mentions an issue or a piece of legislation, it can make the difference between the issue gaining traction in Congress or wasting away. Further, if the President talks about something for which a lobbyist is advocating, it can generate massive credibility for both the lobbyist and his firm, even if they had no part in getting it mentioned in the speech.
Following this year’s speech, for example, LGBT groups were disappointed that Obama made no mention of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would ban employers from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Indeed, Obama barely touched on LGBT issues at all, making only a brief reference to marriage equality. As the Huffington Post notes, this may be indicative of the administration’s view that it has enough political capital with the LGBT community that it can afford to ruffle some feathers. The case nonetheless demonstrates both the impact of the SOTU as well as the delicate political maneuvering involved.
Likewise, the guests invited by members of Congress (each lawmaker is allowed one) can have legislative implications for the coming year. Predictably, as PBS notes, more than a dozen Republican members brought business owners and individuals who were negatively impacted by the Affordable Care Act. By the same token, Democrats brought guests who benefitted from the ACA. Democrats (especially the Illinois delegation) also brought at least five immigration advocates. Some lawmakers took a decidedly less conventional approach, though. POLITICO reports that Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La.) brought Willie Robertson, star of “Duck Dynasty.” This blogger wonders if Rep. McAllister will now get to appear on the show.
As with most things in Washington, the State of the Union comes with a side of rhetoric and political bluster. Although every word of the State of the Union need not have far-reaching policy implications, it’s clear that for lobbyists, policymakers, and political forecasters, the Address can have a significant impact on the year to come.
Tags: affordable care act, Duck Dynasty, Employment Non-Discrimination Act, Huffington Post, Obama, PBS, politico, Rep. Vance McAllister, state of the union, Willie Robertson
Posted in Lobbying News | Comments Off on Much Ado About SOTU
Friday, February 8th, 2013 by Geoffrey Lyons
LOBBYISTS ARE CLAMORING for a mention in the President’s big speech next Wednesday. According to Bob Deans of the Natural Resources Defense Council:“A lot of people compete for space in the State of the Union, and it’s weeks, months in the works….Every single priority lobbies hard for inclusion. We understand space is tight, time is limited and time is valuable.” – Roll Call
James Pinkerton, co-chair of the RATE Coalition: “Everybody hangs on every word the president says in the State of the Union, looking for their word, their sentence, their phrase, with fingers crossed,” said James Pinkerton, who co-chairs the RATE Coalition, which lobbies for a lower corporate tax rate.
Year-end disclosure reports reveal that the energy drink business is beefing up its lobbying efforts: “Since November, Monster Energy has spent $100,000 to lobby on ‘legislation and oversight regarding energy drinks.’….[Since] Nov. 26, Red Bull has spent $20,000 on lobbying.” – The Washington Post
This comes in the wake of FDA investigations into “adverse events” linked to the drinks. According to a November press release published just weeks before Red Bull and Monster began their lobbying crusade:
So-called “energy” products are relatively new to the market, and manufacturers of these products have labeled some as dietary supplements and others as conventional foods….FDA cautions consumers that products marketed as “energy shots” or “energy drinks” are not alternatives to rest or sleep….If you are thinking about taking one of these products, please consult your health care provider…
(Imagine hearing “ask your doctor if Red Bull is right for you.”)
The Post article continues: “Between 2004 and October 2012, 17 people died and more than 100 had chest pains, cardiac arrest and other health problems after consuming 5-Hour Energy, Monster and Rockstar beverages, according to FDA data. The FDA noted that the reports do not mean the drinks necessarily caused those ailments.”
Jake Perry, aide to Harry Reid since ’98, has set up lobby firm Jake Perry + Partners: “Jake Perry + Partners is currently based in downtown Washington and is aiming to sign on a broad range of clients, including those in the financial services sector. Perry, who still has family in Nevada, says he plans to one day widen his company’s base of operation to his home state as well.” – POLITICO
The Medical Marijuana PAC slashed “Medical” from its name: “The move came in the aftermath of two members of Congress introducing a bill to legalize and regulate marijuana at the federal level. And it’s a sign that pot advocacy groups are moving away from the ‘medical’ argument – which was always seen as a first step towards full legalization – and embracing the argument for full-on recreational usage.” – POLITICO
Tags: Harry Reid, jake perry, lobby, Lobbying, lobbyists, medical marijuana PAC, monster energy, red bull, rockstar, state of the union
Posted in Lobbying News | Comments Off on Lobbying at a Glance
Wednesday, January 25th, 2012 by Vbhotla
Every time I watch the State of the Union address, I always wish I was a more optimistic person. I remember being genuinely excited when President Clinton used the line (not very original) “the state of our union is STRONG” in 1998. I have always believed, whether a Democrat or Republican is speaking, that the State of the Union address should be used to inspire and present the ideas that we should aspire to. Basically, I think the perfect State of the Union should make me want to sing out a certain “Team America” song whose name I can’t print here. Last night, while listening to President Obama, I kinda, sorta felt that way.
And I don’t mean that in a partisan way. Like most of the people now on the outside looking in, I’ve always believed that for President Obama to maximize his potential in office, he needs to be more combative. Even when I disagree, I’d rather he or the Republicans in Congress take a bigger chance; it isn’t like either side’s poll numbers are that great now. At the moment, it feels like I am watching a football game where both sides are so scared of turning the ball over they punt every 1st down.
What’s more sickening is the idea that we need a rebuttal response from the opposition. The idea that it is even needed in the first place just rings of two kids going “No, you’re wrong!” Can’t we put aside partisan bickering for one night and let the President, whichever party they are from, have the limelight? Even when President Obama said something that traditionally is “right of center” he couldn’t catch a break. I really don’t know why you’d even want to respond. It seems like the better political strategy is to just let it go, not seem contrarian, and move on to the next thing. Also, because it airs right after the State, there is no way for them to truly prepare online casino poker to “respond” to whatever the President actually says.
Why do I say that? Because the rebuttal is just another chance to make a mistake when you don’t have to. Michelle Bachmann’s ‘tea party’ response last year was a great example of this. Also, despite popular opinion, it isn’t like it really makes a difference in the polls. The historic “bump” that people believe the State of the Union gives the incumbent (especially during an election year) is minimum, if at all. Gallup did a great break down in 2010. (Already two years ago!)The biggest bump since the ‘70s came from that ’98 Address, though granted it was the first time in most people’s lives they were hearing or remembering the President announcing a balanced budget.
One last thought. Legislatively, it seems like the big issue the President pushes for each State of the Union has just around a 50/50 shot of working out well. Just ask President Bush about Social Security. Even when it does work, like Obama’s health care plan, it can seem like a Pyrrhic victory. I think it is just hopeful thinking that in the Halls of Congress we’d all have a “come to the light” moment where everyone goes “Oooooohhhhhh, that’s what we should be doing! OK”.
While President Kennedy didn’t declare we would end up on the moon in his State of the Union Address (I’m cheating here because it was still a joint session when he did it) that is what I believe the Address should be about. It is supposed to be a night where we come together and say “ok, this is where we are as a country.” Now we can’t even agree what our problems are, much less the solutions. As an American, I want to hear the unbridled and hopeful optimism regardless of the “political lean” of the idea. For me, the State of the Union has always been about defining the impossible: and how we will turn it into possible.
Tags: President Obama, speech, state of the union, state of the union address
Posted in Congress Views, Executive Branch | Comments Off on State of the Union
Monday, January 31st, 2011 by Vbhotla
If there is a group more riled up about the president’s State of the Union remarks than lobbyists, it is the energy lobby; half are outraged and the other half excited about the opportunities it may have yielded. And almost all of the response is derived from one statement: “I’m asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they’re doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s,” Obama said Tuesday.
The gasoline and oil lobby is, predictably, incensed. American Petroleum Institute CEO Jack Gerard said the president missed an opportunity to speak about how energy development creates jobs, saying “Producing more oil and gas at home, which most Americans want, could create hundreds of thousands of jobs, reduce our deficit by billions, and enhance our energy security. Even better, the government wouldn’t have to invest a single taxpayer dollar – just give industry a green light to invest its own money.”
Conversely, advocates of clean energy are viewing his remarks as a good launching board for lobbying efforts in favor of alternative energy forms. Josh Freed, director of the Clean Energy Program at Third Way, a progressive think tank called the president’s goal of producing 80 percent of the nation’s electricity from clean energy by 2035 “ambitious,” and he is excitedly looking to unearth the possibilities the objective creates.
Sean Garren, clean energy advocate with Environment America, a federation of state-based environmental advocacy groups is one who is leery of the president’s remarks, stating that lumping all of the forms of renewable energy into one standard bill would be difficult and would not garner support from his colleagues.
Tags: energy lobby, energy lobbyist, energy subsidies, gasoline lobby, oil companies president obama energy, oil subsidies, renewable energy, state of the union
Posted in Government Relations Alert | Comments Off on Energy lobby energized over State of the Union remarks
Monday, January 31st, 2011 by Vbhotla
In one of Howard Marlowe’s first acts as president of the American League of Lobbyists, he decried President Obama’s State of the Union remarks as being “inflammatory,” saying “The President’s State of the Union remarks were especially disheartening, because they were made in a speech that was focused on unifying, not dividing our nation.”
Obama has been notably harsh on lobbyists in his speeches, beginning even with the primary campaign leading up to the 2008 election. Despite these remarks, there have been multiple reports that he has consulted lobbyists on several matters, including the budget proposal on which he is currently working. Marlowe mentioned the president’s not-so-quiet history of working with lobbyists, saying “The Administration often reaches out to representatives of industries, labor unions, and other ‘special interests’ to get their advice.”
He goes on to retort that professional lobbyists provide an invaluable service to citizens, legislators and regulators in addition to the clients they represent. Marlowe also argues, in what seems to be in response to Obama’s assertion that “lobbyists have rigged the tax code,” that “When members of Congress weigh the information provided by professional lobbyists, it is they and not lobbyists who have the votes to decide what is in the best interests of their constituents and the nation.”
Marlowe called on Congress to not cede the authority to review, examine and adjust the budget proposals that are submitted by the executive branch. He states, “ALL is opposed to any action that limits elected officials from fully representing their constituents,” which he contends earmarks help them to do. Read Marlowe’s full statement on the League’s facebook page.
Tags: American League of Lobbyists, Earmarks, howard marlowe, Obama and lobbyists, SOTU, state of the union, state of the union address
Posted in Government Relations Alert | Comments Off on American League of Lobbyists reacts to State of the Union address
Friday, January 28th, 2011 by Vbhotla
There were not a tremendous amount of headlines about lobbying or lobbyists this week, but the stories that hit the press were big ones.
First, Howard Marlowe, the new president of the American League of Lobbyists, released his take on Tuesday night’s State of the Union address. And suffice it to say he was not impressed with the president’s remarks. In fact, Marlowe reported that the league “deplore[s] the inflammatory rhetoric about lobbyists,” and called the president out on several instances in which he himself has consorted with lobbyists. He also reiterated the stance that earmarks are a Constitutional right and an important part of the democratic legislative process.
Also this week, the trial of Fraser Verrusio, a former House aide who is the final conspirator charged in connection with the long-running Jack Abramoff probe, began. Opening statements took place Wednesday, and neither side mentioned the disgraced former lobbyist. Verrusio is being charged with public corruption for accepting what prosecutors are calling the “illegal gratuity” that was his ticket to the 2003 World Series. His defense lawyer, Joshua Berman, called this “a case about nothing,” because the New York trip was “a legitimate, run-of-the-mill, third party trip.”
Over the weekend, the 2010 lobbying numbers were released: last year, with the combination of stalled Congressional action in anticipation of mid-term elections and the still-slow economy, lobby shops saw a decline in the bottom line. Large firms saw booming revenue, thanks to acquisition of flailing boutique operations, but as a whole, most lobbying offices saw stagnant or declining numbers in 2010. The current Congressional climate — including uncertainty about the budget and appropriations process, and a heavy concentration of power within the regulatory agencies — have some concerned that this year may not be much better. Patton Boggs, which acquired Breaux Lott Leadership Group in July, and Akin Gump, which reported a $3 increase over 2009, remain the top earners, according to recently filed LD-203 reports.
Tags: akin gump, American League of Lobbyists, Breaux Lott, fraser verrusio, howard marlowe, Jack Abramoff, LD-203, lobbying revenue, Patton Boggs, SOTU, state of the union
Posted in Weekly Lobbying News Round-Up | Comments Off on State of Lobbying: Weekly News Round-up
Wednesday, January 26th, 2011 by Vbhotla
In last night’s State of the Union address, anti-lobbying rhetoric was relatively low. Sure, there was the jab that “a parade of lobbyists has rigged the tax code,” and the statement that constituents “deserve to know when [their] elected officials are meeting with lobbyists,”but all in all, no real lobbying talk. And really, it’s not a bad thing for citizens to know that lobbyists are working on their behalf to make concerns known in Congress.
One thing that many in the profession could have anticipated, but were probably still less than thrilled to hear was President Obama’s decree that “If a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it.” This idea is not unique to the president; there has been talk of a ban on earmarks all through the most recent campaign cycle. And while there is currently no ban on earmarks in either the House or the Senate rules, it is worth noting that the Republican Conference rules do ban them.
This was a great departure from the emphasis on special interest groups the president put on last year’s address, and lobbyists should be cautiously optimistic about what this means for opportunities for them to effectively do their jobs. If there’s one thing that lobbyists can learn from President Obama, it’s his ability to organize and effectively carry out a grassroots campaign. Prior to the primaries leading up to the 2008 election, many people did not even know who he was. It was his ability to organize and rally people behind him that launched him into the public spotlight and then the White House.
What does this mean for you? In this no-earmarks climate, one of the most effective lobbying tactics will be grassroots and grasstops efforts. In a session Monday before over 60 attendees, Dom Ruscio, of Cavarocchi, Ruscio, Dennis & Associates, LLC, and the Podesta Group’s John Scofield emphasized this point as being one of the best ways to lobby the budget and appropriations process, and indeed it is universally true.
A new study by the Partnership for a More Perfect Union and the Congressional Management Foundation indicated that the number one way to sway a Congressperson’s mind on an issue if (s)he has not already taken a firm position is in-person constituent visits. Take the opportunity to organize lobby days with key constituents set to appear. (Be careful to limit the visits to five people per visit, in consideration of space limitations within Congressional offices.) Go often and make the message clear. Because despite the talk, lobbying is not dead in this Administration nor in this Congress. It may just simply need to embrace one of the key themes in Obama’s speech last night: reinvention.
Tags: Earmarks, earmarks ban, President Obama, SOTU, state of the union, state of the union address
Posted in From the Eyes of the Editors | Comments Off on SOTU aftermath: lobbying is not dead
Tuesday, January 25th, 2011 by Vbhotla
President Obama has unveiled a webpage designed to supplement tonight’s State of the Union address. The first of its kind, the website boasts that “Americans can choose an enhanced viewing experience for the President’s State of the Union address.”
A White House panel consisting of Brian Deese, Deputy Director, National Economic Council; Roberto Rodriguez, Special Assistant to the President for Education Policy; David Simas, Director and Aide to the Senior Advisor; and Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications has been assembled to answer questions submitted via Facebook, Twitter, or the site itself immediately after the address.Other key members of the administration will be participating in online discussions throughout the week.
President Obama himself will engage in a YouTube interview Thursday afternoon. Also on Thursday, there will be a live roundtable discussion featuring the Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Chairman of the Council of Economic AdvisorsAustan Goolsbee and Dennis McDonough, Deputy National Security Director.
The page will stream the address live and also includes charts, graphs and other content to supplement the speech.
Tags: high tech Administration, President Obama, state of the union, state of the union address, white house website
Posted in Lobbying News | Comments Off on State of the Union goes High Tech