Up Front: INFLUENCE PEDDLERS
WHO SAID THE POOR DON'T HAVE LOBBYISTS?
AS THE GOP CONGRESS attacks social spending, effective opposition is coming from Corporate America's poverty lobby--companies that gain from federal spending on the poor. For example, the $1.3 billion ener-
gy-assistance program seemed dead after the House passed its 1995 spending cuts. But utilities pressured Northeastern senators, and $1 billion emerged from House-Senate negotiations. "We reminded them that this is a program to which we attach a lot of importance," says John Sparkman, a lobbyist for Pennsylvania Power & Light.
Likewise, the food industry stopped the $27 billion food-stamp program from being turned over to the states, thus handing the GOP one of its few welfare reform setbacks. Farmers and processors don't want governors deciding to pay out benefits in cash, which could cut food sales. Says a Democrat Hill staffer: "We've just got to take our friends where we can find them."Mike McNamee