If you’re looking for information about the inner workings of Congress’ secretive debt-reduction “super committee,” you won’t find it in the newspaper or on cable news. But for a hefty fee, you can buy access in the form of a Capitol Hill staffer-turned-lobbyist.
The Washington Post reported that nearly 90 lobbyists currently representing businesses affected by the super committee’s work formerly worked for members of Congress sitting on the committee. Democratic Senators Max Baucus of Montana and John Kerry of Massachusetts have the most ties to K street, with 25 and 14 former staff members working as lobbyists, respectively.
According to Politico, both Democratic and Republican lobbyists say they continued to have “face time” with committee members on behalf of their corporate clients.
The super committee is tasked with coming up with at least $1.2 trillion in budget cuts, and the possibility of losing lucrative government contracts has big-name players in the defense, pharmaceutical and other business sectors spooked.
So for $30,000 to $50,000 a month — a relatively small investment to secure multi billion-dollar contracts — government contractors have employed a host of lobbyists to keep their interests off the chopping block.
On Thursday senior aides to GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Arizona GOP Senator John Kyl met with Republican lobbyists to tell them tax increases may prove unavoidable in reaching a so-called Grand Bargain — a larger deal including both revenue increases and spending cuts to slash the federal deficit by $3 to $4 trillion.
The super committee has met mostly in secret, ruffling the feathers of journalists and watchdog groups concerned about government transparency. Committee members have been spotted dashing out of conference rooms after day-long, closed door meetings, refusing to comment on the committee’s proceedings.