Say what you will about former president Barack Obama, but his oft-frustrated reform efforts were a windfall for the lobbyist industry and the political hookers they bribe in Washington, D.C.
By contrast, the open avarice of the Trump Administration is turning out to be very bad for Beltway Insiders, according to federal lobbyists and lawmakers. It permits industries and corporations to go straight to Team Trump to purchase political protection, thereby undermining Congressional protection rackets.
Lobbyists spent only $450 million in the first three months of this year to place the wishes of their clients ahead of the greater good. That represents an annual bribery spending pace of just $1.7 billion, which is the lowest since 2001. It’s a 46 percent decrease from the same period of 2016, according to the OpenSecrets database.
“The painful truth is that Senators and members of Congress command a premium for selling out the middle class on issues like financial reform and healthcare reform,” said Doyle Bartlett of the Eris Group, one of The Hill’s Top Hired Guns in 2016. “Trump’s open contempt for the masses shrinks lobbyist revenue by reducing the need to pay that premium. His shameless greed is hurting a lot of people lower down the political food chain.”
Trump defended the decline in overall bribery revenue, deriding the multiple layers of DC officials with their hands out as an unnecessary burden on business.
“I've streamlined and consolidated our nation's archaic system of political bribery," Trump tweeted Wednesday night. "Being able to just bribe one person instead of 500 is a big relief for Wall Street. Paying me directly is a much more efficient use of executive time and scarce corporate resources.”
Bribery spending by The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Medical Association, Big Pharma, Russia, Israel and The National Rifle Association all fell in the first quarter. The only bright spots were the elevated donations from The People’s Republic of China, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and Mexico.
The new system is a hit with business leaders.
"I like it," said Netflix Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings. "It's fast, it's easy. It fits my lifestyle."
Many K-Street lobbying shops have already embarked upon significant headcount reductions as a result of the sea change created by the open avarice of the Trump Administration.
“When everything is for sale at the highest level you don’t need a lobbyist or a member of Congress, you just need a pocketbook,” lamented U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), who specializes in selling out voters to hedge funds and private equity funds. “Trump’s naked greed is taking money out of people’s pockets inside the Beltway. If this keeps up some lawmakers may have to pull their kids out of their prep schools and send them to public school.”
Twenty lobbyist firms have announced layoffs since Trump took office, impacting 450 of the capital’s 11,143 lobbyists. About 4 percent.
The financial hardships cut across party lines, with the Republican-affiliated BGR Group announcing a 20 percent headcount reduction on Wednesday and Dem-allied Subject Matter releasing half its staff Friday.
“This is a real tragedy,” said Haley Barbour of BGR, the former Republican governor of Mississippi. “I’ve got two recent hires I’ve had to let go and they’re both super kids. One is a young lady from Vassar who has already made a name for herself in the House as one of the best lays in town. Now, she’s on Backpage (below right) and it just breaks my heart.
“I’ve got an equally promising Stanford grad (left) from San Francisco who caught the fancy of Ted Cruz (in hood) and did a yeoman’s job at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center during CPAC. We had to let him go, too.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan said the Trump diversion is impacting his family. An in-law who had just learned how to help Congressional influence peddlers wash bribe money via excessive speaking fees, insider trading tips, no-show jobs for friends and relatives, and donations to their family charity was laid off last week by the Republican National Committee.
"It's a goddamn shame," Ryan lamented Tuesday. "One day you've got the world by the short and curlies. The next day, you're staring up from the blacktop like a piece of political roadkill."
The unexpected consequences of the Trump presidency continued to reverberate across the Beltway this week.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi tweeted Monday that she hasn’t received a decent insider trading tip in weeks. Members of Congress have crafted an exception to those laws to allow them to accept bribes legally in the form of stock tips from top executives. Pelosi has exploited the loophole to build a $89 million nest egg for herself while in public office.
I haven’t seen a $110,000 speaking fee in months,” said former President George W. Bush. “Much less the $225,000 and $250,000 fees Hillary and Bill were commanding during the election.”
NBC announced this morning that it planned to release senior correspondent Meghan McCain, daughter of former presidential candidate John McCain (R-Ariz.), after several years of less than stellar journalism. Her departure follows the resignation of Chelsea Clinton after it was revealed that the former first daughter could not report her way out of a paper bag.
“If I’m gonna pay top dollar for a clueless rich kid, their last name is going to be 'Trump,'” said NBC News President Noah Oppenheim. “Not McCain, Bush or Clinton.”
The network plans to replace McCain with Barron Trump, who speaks fluent Slovenian. Disney has also inked the 11-year-old to a leading role on the New New Mickey Mouse Club.
“That Barron,” said fashion industry lobbyist Jacobim Mugatu. "So hot right now.”