The Philadelphia Inquirer has a story today that Pennsylvania business groups – especially in natural gas, tobacco, and gambling industries – spent a lot of money lobbying during the state budget. Yet while several quoted in the article point on their problems with the lobbying, no one point out the obvious driver of all this lobbying – big government.
When the state spends over $60 billion each year, it is natural for lobbyists to spend a few million to get their share of that. No one should be shocked that tobacco and natural gas companies would fight a new tax that applies only to those business, or that casinos would pump money into legalization of new business (table games) that they would have a state-granted monopoly over. Nor should we be surprised to see school districts lobbying for hundreds of millions in increased subsidies for themselves, or the film industry lobbying for a tax credit for films, or Harley Davidson lobbying for corporate welfare.
When you have a government which regulates, subsidizes, or taxes nearly every aspect of our economy, you’re only going to see more spent on lobbying. If you want to curtail the influence of high-powered lobbyists, you have to curtail the power of government.