Friday, January 20, 2017

                          FEAR  AND  LOATHING  ON  K - STREET


Washington’s lobbyists are starting to panic

Things are changing in Washington… and not just at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue...

Washington regulars – the politicos, party hacks and think tankers who are here all year round – are feeling unsettled. In part this is the natural response to a change of party at the top. But it is also the result of Trump’s extraordinary style of politics, which is sowing fear among lobbyists who must try to navigate his impetuous manner and Twitter rants.

For the time being, many Democrats have left town altogether, unwilling to be any party to celebrations... Much of the talk among lobbyists was about finessing the tactics they will need in Trump’s aggressive world.

Trump has scored a series of extraordinary successes by hectoring big businesses into promising to keep jobs in America. It started with the attack on the Carrier Plant in Indiana, which planned to transfer 2,000 jobs to Mexico...

Then there was a Twitter rant directed at Boeing... A similar protest at the cost of Lockheed Martin’s F35 project sent that company’s share price into freefall.

So I have some sympathy with the big pharma lobbyist I met at the party. His industry is in Trump’s firing line. What little we know of plans to replace Obamacare includes negotiating with pharmaceutical companies to bring down the cost of drugs, passing on the savings to patients. And Trump’s negotiations seem to involve firing off a string of public demands, whipping up public anger and dominating the news cycle. ‘Getting away with murder,’ is how Trump has summed up the pharmaceutical pricing structure.

Who wants any of that? Who wants to be the company that sticks its head above the parapet? Who wants to put themselves in Trump’s sights? Who wants to wake up at 6am to find themselves the target of a Twitter rant and watch their share price turning red on the news tickers? Lobbyists may find that for a while they will need to keep their heads down. That’s the new reality that Washington’s cosy world has entered. And it may be no bad thing.