Silicon Valley Tech Titans Outspend Banking Industry 2-to-1 In Washington Lobbying

Who spends the most money on Capitol Hill? Wall Street? Silicon Valley? According to one study, Silicon Valley tech titans have a bigger wallet than Wall Street bank bosses when it comes to doling out lobbying money. The five biggest tech companies in the United States -- Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple -- spend twice as much on lobbying as the bank industry.

The Center for Responsive Politics noted that the five biggest tech companies spent $49 million USD last year on Washington lobbyists, while the five largest banks only $19.7 million USD. Silicon Valley is supplying personnel as well as funds. The Campaign for Accountability noted that just last year, 183 people who previously worked for President Obama began working for Google, while 58 former Google employees are now employed by the Obama administration.

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Washington and Silicon Valley have increasingly been cozying up with one another since the bank bailout in 2008. A name like “Goldman Sachs” leaves a bad taste in many mouths, however, most Americans remain ambivalent toward tech companies. Jeff Hauser from the Center for Economic Policy and Research in Washington, remarked, “If you’re trying to influence government policy on behalf of a corporate sector, it’s not better that you do it for the tech industry than for Goldman.”

Obama’s chief technology officer Megan Smith claims that she wants to make government services as smooth as other tech experiences, however, not everyone in or from Silicon Valley is as generous or idealistic. The tech giants have a long list of wants and dislike being policed by the government. Silicon Valley generally supports immigration rights for skilled workers and trade accords that are currently opposed by both presidential candidates. Tech companies have also clashed with Washington over internet privacy and national security. The FTC has accused companies like Google of being anti-competitive.

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Most importantly, tech giants dislike being told what to do by the government. Barry Lynn, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation remarked, “They want to be left alone. They want to be allowed to do what they want to do.” Only the future will be able to tell who ultimately has the most control.