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Top Lobbying Fights, Place Your Bets

With a new administration, dozens of new members of Congress, billions of dollars in stimulus spending up for grabs, and multiple national crises, 2009 is shaping up to be an intense year for the lobbying industry.

Politico is laying its bets on the biggest upcoming lobbying fights: 1) Gays in the military, 2) Reforming the financial system, 3) Health care, 4) the Employee Free Choice Act, 5) Climate change.

There are some good picks, but Politico’s list conflates looming controversies with lobbying free-for-alls.

Leading off with gays in the military is an odd choice. It seems unlikely the issue will generate the lobbying frenzy that we’re seeing around labor, finance, or health care issues. Lobbying is about money, and the real money in lobbying comes from corporations, unions, and state and local governments–not civil libertarians and religious conservatives.

Here are my predictions for the biggest lobbying fights of 2009:

  • The Employee Free Choice Act. Big business and big labor are squaring off for an epic fight over how easy it should be to form a union.
  • State and local governments are clamoring for infrastructure and other goodies in the stimulus. The proposed stimulus package contains billions of dollars for highway construction other infrastructure projects, no matching funds required!
  • Green and and not-so-green energy firms begging for public subsidies. There’s lots of money in the stimulus for alternative energy. Lobbyists for the wind, solar, geothermal, and “clean coal” industries will be working overtime.
  • Digitizing health care records. IT firms, health insurers, and civil libertarians will keep lobbyists busy squabbling over how the heck we’re going to digitize every medical record in the country in the next five years. There’s $20 billion in the proposed stimulus bill to get health records online, and that’s just a down payment.
  • Comprehensive health care reform. Lobbyists for seniors, doctors, health insurers, employers, consumer groups, unions, and other interested parties are dying to put their stamp on the comprehensive health care reform package that Obama and the Congressional Dems are expected to unveil in the near future.
  • Re-regulating the financial industry. While the capitalist system is lying in ruins, lobbyists are making a killing flacking for banks, insurance companies, hedge funds, and credit card companies.

Am I missing anything? Submit your own lists in the comments, below.

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