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K Street Files: Lobbyists Prep for SCOTUS Ruling

On K Street, waiting for the Supreme Court’s health care ruling goes something like this: schedule post-decision client conference calls, write multiple drafts of talking points for different outcomes, and hole up in a conference room trying to figure out whether constitutional law-speak can translate into English.

Every interest with a stake in the health care overhaul — which covers basically every lobbyist in town — has been waiting and speculating on whether the statute survives a constitutional challenge. And they are waiting some more with the decision not due until Thursday.

“The work is and has been: sitting in windowless rooms with lawyers and legal analysts trying to do scenario planning and decision trees,” explained the Raben Group’s Robert Raben, a former House Judiciary Committee counsel.

Larry McNeely, manager of policy communications and advocacy for the National Coalition on Health Care, said his office — from senior staff to the summer interns — has been waiting “with bated breath, glued to the SCOTUS blog.”

“I’ve written a number of variations on three different press releases” depending on which way the court goes, he added.

A spokesman for one of the most closely watched parties, America’s Health Insurance Plans, declined to comment on internal strategy, meetings or whether it’s set up a SCOTUS war room. But spokesman Robert Zirkelbach did say the health care plan lobby plans to trumpet how a requirement in the law that would make insurers cover everyone, including those with pre-existing conditions, is inextricably linked with other insurance reforms.

Of course, there’s only so much that lobbyists can do in advance. And some K Streeters caution that as crazy as this week promises to be post-ruling, the real lobbying will spin well into next year.

Even so, the health care decision will play big on the campaign trail, meaning stakeholders will have to hit the road with their messaging, too.

Tax People Cometh to the Hill

While everyone waits for the health care decision, a collection of tax executives is planning a day of lobbying Wednesday.

Tax vice presidents from such companies as Altria, Macy’s and Raytheon  will spend the day meeting with senior Treasury officials as well as Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), among others, according to organizers of the event.

They are hoping that meetings early in the tax reform process will help them shape the debate.

“The Coalition’s tax VPs are ideally suited to describe, in fine-grained detail, just how America’s ‘dubiously world-leading’ 35 percent corporate tax rate and incredibly complex corporate tax code are hurting job creation and economic growth,” said James Pinkerton, who co-chairs the Reforming America’s Taxes Equitably coalition.

Setting Up Shop

There’s a new firm in town — and in New York, Beijing and Brussels.

Lane Bailey, the former president of public affairs at Golin|Harris, is opening the Advocom Group along with A.J. Donelson, who was head of 3M’s Washington lobby outpost.

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