"A fast-growing trend in the business of influencing government is corporate-funded trips," reports the Wall Street Journal. "Because the trips are paid for by corporations and trade associations - and not the hired guns who lobby for them - such trips are permitted under House and Senate rules," unless the sponsors are registered lobbyists or foreign agents. The number of junkets increased from 1,400 in 2000 to 1,900 in 2004; their cost increased 50% over the same period, to $3 million in 2004.
Lobbying in Washington has quietly grown over the past years into a multi-billion dollar industry, according to a new report by the Center for Public Integrity. Since 1998, lobbyists have spent nearly $13 billion to influence members of Congress and federal officials on legislation and regulations. According to federal records, lobbying expenditures are expected to be at least $3 billion for 2004, doubling 1998 expenditures. The U.S.
The industry group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America has launched "its most aggressive counterattack," on a proposed California ballot initiative to provide cheaper prescription drugs to low-income residents.
In late February, deputy White House chief of staff Karl Rove, National Economics Council director Al Hubbard, and Barry Jackson, a special assistant to the president who is handling Social Security reform, met with administration-friendly lobbyists for a "rah-rah" cheerleading session on Social Security privatization. According to The Hill, representatives from the conservative 60 Plus Association, the business funded Coalition for the Modernization and Protection of America's Social Security(COMPASS), America’s Community Bankers, the National Retail Federation, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the Business Roundtable heard the trio reiterate George W. Bush's commitment to "reform" Social Security. "Karl Rove talked about its importance to the president's agenda, and Al Hubbard talked about its importance to the economy," a spokesperson from the Roundtable told Bloomberg News.