Lobbying Bill Tops $1.1 Billion For First Half of 2004

"As President Bush campaigned for reelection pledging to protect doctors and insurance companies from patient lawsuits while easing the tax burden on businesses, industry groups spent record amounts of money lobbying to influence the White House, Congress and their constituents," the Los Angeles Times' Peter Wallsten writes. According to public records filed with the Senate, industry groups spent $1.1 billion on lobbyists and advertising campaigns for the first half of 2004, a new record. The top spenders were the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Medical Association. According to the watchdog group PoliticalMoneyLine.com, the two groups spent a combined $39 million to advocate medical liability limits. "Businesses and other interests sense an opportunity, and they are going to be spending a tremendous amount of money to ensure that they get their way," said Center for Responsive Politics's Larry Noble. Other big spenders include "General Electric Co., which spent $8.44 million on various issues, such as Iraq contracts and broadcast policies, and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which spent about $8 million on legislation affecting Medicare, drug issues and other healthcare matters," the Times reports.