THE BLOG
07/14/2011 05:33 pm ET | Updated Sep 13, 2011

Surprising Debt Ceiling Winner

It is easy to criticize the economic perspective of the Tea Party bunch in the House of Representatives (it sometimes seems that they aim to destroy the economy in order to save it), but even those of us who disagree must admit that they've created a bit of a boom here in Washington.

Simply put, uncertainty draws clients to lobbyists the way flowers attract bees, and we're now wallowing in uncertainty. Better yet are proposals by Republican Congressional leaders Cantor and McConnell that would have Congress endorse a short-term strategy that would require them to regularly return to the issue. They'd create a gift that keeps giving.

When you feed the phrase "everything is on the table" into my decoder ring, here is what comes out: "Everything is at risk, and those with the resources would do well to invest in lobbyists who will minimize the resulting damage." The logic of this translation is seen in the disparate way intemperate bankers and overextended homebuyers were treated in the initial response to today's economic crisis.

An op-ed that contains the phrase, "We all agree on the need for fiscal responsibility and shared sacrifice, but cutting government support for [fill in the blank here; options include the uninsured, banks mass transit systems, oil companies] is a short-sighted strategy that will ultimately undermine America's goals and leave us worse off than we are now" tells you several things. One is that folks are investing in an effort to hold on to what they've got. Another is that such obvious defenders represent the tip of the iceberg, because most such submissions never get printed at all.

In short, a lobbyist who can't make it in today's environment should hang up his tasseled loafers and apply to podiatry school -- before government subsidized tuition loans disappear.

One lobbyist who appears to be doing quite well at the moment is Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform (otherwise informally known as Americans for Tax Elimination), who seems to be more than holding his own against an industry that's notched a perfect game until now -- the revered and feared bond market.

Viewed from the microeconomic perspective of the lobbying industry, the good times will extend far into the future, because any resolution of today's problem will change at least some of the rules and create a cascade of uncertainty that will take a minimum of a decade to resolve.

Fears that the fat years lobbyists have been enjoying because of financial and health reform legislation were apparently overstated. It looks like the good times will continue rolling, creating a cornucopia of good (lobbying) jobs at very good wages. You can call that irony or paradox or perhaps yet another symbiotic Washington relationship, but they do seem to be strengthening the very system that so disturbs them.