The Washington Lobbyists

By Lester W. Milbrath | Go to book overview

my impression, however, that there is more money wasted on lobbying than most any other thing around Congress.

* * *

I have heard lobbyists say that they supply such important information that Congress really couldn't get along without it. I don't agree with them; I think we could get along without it. There is no doubt that in many instances they do help, but we certainly don't have to depend on it. . . . I don't know if lobbying is really helpful or harmful. The reason is that lobbyists really don't have much effect. Two- thirds of lobbying is wasted. I don't want my views known on this. I don't want any of those fellows thrown out of their jobs because of what I am saying. You can report this if you don't identify me, however.


SUMMARY

Returning once more to the question of the value of lobbying services, lobbyists do contribute many useful services which many decision-makers seem glad to use. Many of these services could be obtained from alternative sources, however, and probably at a lower net cost to the body politic. The present system provides much duplication and is clearly wasteful and time-consuming. Yet no responsible official is inclined to forbid or severely restrain lobbying. Dispensing with lobbying services would make Congress even more dependent on the Executive.

There is no substitute for one service--the clash of viewpoints. The creative function this serves in alerting decision- makers to all possible alternatives outweighs all the waste and frustration involved in lobbying. This one function is also most clearly protected by the constitutional right to petition. Officials might find other sources for most services lobbyists provide, but they could never find a substitute for the essential representational function that the spokesmen for organized interests provide. Congressman Emanuel Celler sums up this point rather well:

-313-

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