It is well-established that Americans do not trust the federal government and believe that government itself is the nation’s top problem. Naturally, much of that ill-will is focused on Washington, D.C., with its partisan elected officials, inept bureaucrats, bloated government, corruption, and those influence-peddling Washington lobbyists.
The Podestas’ “lobbyist vs. lobbyist” divorce provides the perfect platform for the average American to justify why they harbor such negative feelings. At this writing, Tony and Heather Podesta, multi-millionaire owners of separate influential lobbying firms, are embroiled in a nasty separation with the curtains pulled back so they can both use the media to gain an edge in their divorce proceedings. The juicy court documents are truly a peek into elite life in Washington, and beautifully illustrate five reasons why Washington’s way of doing business is completely broken.
1. Washington lobbyists have excessive influence
Says Tony Podesta: “I see lobbying as getting information in the hands of people who are making decisions so they can make more informed decisions.”
On the surface this sounds rational. However, what Mr. Podesta neglects to say is “the people who are making the decisions” are beholden to lobbyists like him for campaign cash if they wish to still have jobs after the next election. “Informed decisions” are often unduly influenced by lobbyists, and that is precisely why lobbyists’ clients hire them in the first place. The system is a circular gourmet food chain.
2. Bigger government means all sectors of the economy need guide dogs that are sniffing for special treats
In order to deal with ever expansive, overcomplicated, and intrusive government, lobbyists are hired by their clients to seek favorable treatment, special exemptions, or relief from something. Then of course there is always a desire for a larger piece of the government pie with contracts or grants.
Sometimes lobbyists even have a hand in helping to write legislation, policy, and regulation while continually fueling Washington’s engines with campaign checks. Often in anticipation of a big pay period, the “buy your lobbyist a new vacation home” and “pay your kid’s tuition to Harvard” are pet names attached to complicated new regulations, policies, or legislation.
The system is not only a circular food chain, but a 24-hour all-you-can-eat buffet.
3. Lobbyists make millions while average Americans make $51,371
Tony’s firm earned $13.4 million in 2013, down from $54.8 million in the election year of 2012.
Heather’s firm earned $3.7 million in 2013, also down from 2012 when she earned $14.5 million. (Be sure to check out both their client lists.)
Thus, after 11 years of marriage, and charges of Heather’s unfaithfulness, their contentious divorce is centered on who gets the $5.6 million mansion in Washington, as well as homes in Virginia, Italy, and Australia. Then there is the “world famous” art collection with 1,300 pieces estimated to be worth hundreds of millions, in addition to the jewelry, investments, and both businesses with prestigious Fortune 500 clients. Most intriguing will be the valuing of the “Podesta brand” that Heather insists she helped build. Splitting these assets will buy the best divorce lawyers in the city their “new vacation homes.”