Let the Frenzy Begin! Lobbyists (and Lawmakers) Swarm the Tax Bill

Let the Frenzy Begin! Lobbyists (and Lawmakers) Swarm the Tax Bill


Expect to see a “lobbying frenzy” in Washington as Republicans prepare to release their tax bill. House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady plans to release the bill, which represents the most sweeping overhaul of the tax code in 31 years, on November 1. But the jockeying for position has already begun, Bloomberg reports, with special interest groups roaming Capitol Hill looking for information about what’s coming — and whose ox might get gored.

The problem for lobbyists is that Republicans have kept many of the details of the their plan to themselves, sharing little beyond a brief outline released in September. The lack of information has allowed GOP leaders to move quickly while keeping resistance to a minimum, but that’s all about to change. Lawmakers can expect to have lobbyists banging on their doors morning, noon and night as they fight to protect the tax breaks coveted by the industries they represent. Tim Phillips, president of the Koch-backed group Americans for Prosperity told Bloomberg, “It’s pretty fierce. We met with Brady on Tuesday and he was saying their offices are swamped with all the special interest groups swarming in asking to be protected.”

Lobbyists aren’t the only ones who have been in the dark on details of the tax bill. Many lawmakers, even those on key committees, have been locked out of the process thus far. Rep. Jim Renacci of Ohio, who sits on the tax-writing panel, told Blomberg, “The problem is that Ways and Means has somewhat been kept out of the loop with details. There are still a lot of hurdles to get it done.”

Those hurdles include major issues ranging from the elimination of state and local deductions to the treatment of trillions of dollars in profits held overseas by U.S. corporations. Every move Congress might make to recover some of the money lost to the more than $5 trillion in tax cuts Republicans want is guaranteed to anger one interest group or another. The tax negotiators have done the easy part — cutting taxes — first, leaving the hard part — finding new revenues — for later. As Sen. John Cornyn put it earlier this week, it’s time to get to “the spinach. Not the desert, but the spinach. That’s the off-sets.”