Well this is just peachy.
Washington lobbyists, who usually spend their days and nights tracking the progress of dozens of bills and chasing after hundreds of members of Congress, will have a single place to focus their attention this fall: the 12-member “supercommittee” [...] “Supercommittee means superlobbying,” says John Feehery, who was a top aide to former Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert and is now director of government affairs at Quinn Gillespie & Associates, one of Washington’s most prominent shops.[...]
It has been a tough year for lobbyists (schadenfreude duly noted). They made out during the epic Washington battles over health care and financial reform, but then business went soft as the economy dragged and the debt fight paralyzed Congress. Lobbying revenue dipped to $1.65 billion in the first half of 2011, down 8.5 percent from the first half of 2010, according to the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington.
The summer doldrums will end when the committee, chaired by Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington and Republican Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas, gets to work. If the members can’t reach agreement by the Nov. 23 deadline or Congress rejects its proposals, automatic cuts to agencies throughout the government will kick in. To protect their clients, legions of lobbyists will get busy studying the lawmakers’ voting records, home-state interests, and pet projects, looking for angles to exploit. The K Streeters will put their connections to work, reaching members of the committee through former staffers and even leveraging other members of Congress. “I always tell my staff that the most effective lobbyist with a senator is another senator,” says Charlie Black, chairman of Prime Policy Group, which lobbies for AT&T (T), Google (GOOG), Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), and other companies.
The real money is going to be poured on by the health industry—hospitals, drug companies and medical device makers—and defense industry. If the committee doesn't come up with $1.5 trillion in cuts in other places, those two take the big hit in the automatic trigger. So what we'll probably see is the health industry arguing for cuts to the benefits of its direct consumers—Medicare beneficiaries—so that providers don't get the hit, and the defense industry lobbying for veterans benefits to take the hit, so that all important defense contractors stay in the money. Oh, and don't forget the oil and gas lobby, because the Democrats on the committee are definitely going to be targeting their tax breaks.
Against all that, there will be public interest group lobbying, too—for raising taxes on corporations, hedge fund managers and protecting the safety net. Hopefully they'll be able to fight the throngs from the big monied interests to get through the doors and be heard.