Corporations and Foreign Nations Pivot to Lobby Biden 企業和外國 轉向遊說拜登
文/Kenneth P. Vogel and Eric Li
The morning after Election Day, as votes were still being counted, diplomats from more than 20 foreign governments logged into a videoconference to hear Joe Lockhart, a veteran Democratic operative, provide what his consulting firm's invitation described as "insider tips on how to make YOUR agenda happen in the aftermath of an election."
Over the next few days, as Joe Biden accumulated the votes necessary to become the next president, representatives from countries and companies around the world began scrambling to secure representation from well-connected Democrats like Lockhart.
Manny Ortiz, a Democratic lobbyist with ties to the party's congressional leaders, said he received a string of inquiries from representatives for foreign governments — including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — that had previously focused on strengthening ties to President Donald Trump.
And Heather Podesta, a leading Democratic lobbyist, said her firm recently signed a slew of new clients from the energy, consumer goods, technology and defense industries that were preparing for the expected Biden win.
While Biden has taken steps to demonstrate his distance from lobbyists, his presidency is being welcomed in Washington's influence industry.
Lobbyists and other advisers who help clients navigate Washington are quietly highlighting ties to Biden and his team in pitches to prospective clients, while firms and interest groups that lack such ties are scrambling to secure them. Such connections are plentiful because aides and colleagues of Biden's have been cycling between government and the influence industry going back to his 36 years representing Delaware in the Senate and his eight years as vice president.
It is a far cry from four years ago, when Trump swept into town with few connections to established gatekeepers and lobbyists.
Instead of fulfilling his campaign promise to "drain the swamp" of special interests, Trump empowered a powerful, but relatively small, new class of lobbyists with connections to him or his inner circle. They reaped tens of millions of dollars in lobbying fees from companies, interest groups and foreign governments seeking to navigate an administration that revolved around the whims of one man, while defying established norms about policymaking and governance.
The measure, to be paid for by a large tax on high earners, will provide free preschool for all children ages 3 and 4, in public schools and in existing and new private preschools and home-based child care centers. It will also significantly raise teachers' wages so they are equivalent to those of kindergarten teachers.
It seeks to overcome the central problem in early childhood care and education: It is unaffordable for many families, yet teachers are underpaid. The solution, Multnomah County voters decided, is to finance preschool with public funding instead of private tuition and to pay teachers much more.
It also seeks to overcome some of the pitfalls of universal preschool policies in places like New York and Washington, D.C. In doing so, early childhood researchers say the policy could serve as a blueprint for the rest of the country.
"This was focused on access to quality preschool, so when children enter kindergarten, they are able to succeed," said Jessica Vega Pederson, a county commissioner and a chairwoman of the measure's steering committee.
Caregiving has become a much more politically salient issue. The closings of schools and child care centers because of the coronavirus made clear the extent to which the sector underpins the economy. Joe Biden has made caregiving a central part of his economic plan.
Child care is the largest expense for many families, and yet educators — who are disproportionately Black and Latino women — earn an average of $12 an hour, according to the center for the study of child care employment at the University of California, Berkeley. Half rely on public assistance. Even when they have the same education, preschool teachers earn half of what kindergarten teachers do, the center found.
Research has shown that high-quality preschool is beneficial for children, particularly those from low-income families. It helps them prepare for kindergarten — academically, socially and behaviorally — and shrinks achievement gaps. Research has shown that for poor children, it results in increased earnings and better health later in life.