The insider's guide to managing Congress

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Boy. The new May 11, 2009 issue of Fortune has a feature called The Business Guide to Congress, featuring tips and tactics for business leaders trying to understand how to manage relations with the legislative branch in the current economic climate. It reads somewhere between The Onion and The Wall Street Journal, in a disconcerting ha-ha-only-serious kind of way.

It features five rules to follow:

  1. Remember populist symbolism (e.g. "If you're in a time bind to get to DC, fly your jet to Philly and take Amtrak from there")
  2. Find an ally who's popular (e.g. "credit unions and community banks are still as popular as apple pie, so they've become useful frontmen for big-bank agendas")
  3. Prepare your story before you're scrutinized (e.g. "'Business leaders create jobs. That's a story that needs to be told.'")
  4. If called to testify, be boring (e.g. "stick to a script religiously (think Obama at a press conference), avoid making news, and be humble and excruciatingly dull")
  5. Rely on Senate centrists (e.g. "it pays to get to know Republicans like Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, Arlen Specter and Charles Graessley; and Democrats like Mary Landrieu, Ben Nelson, Mark Pryor, Tom Johnson, and Evan Bayh")

And if you were curious on how to narrow the scope of financial regulation, or which Senator may crack down on offshore tax havens, the article has answers to those as well. A print-only sidebar discusses bothersome restrictions on lobbying.

Unfortunately, the online version's missing a lovely full-page Venn diagram of 25 legislators that are powerful, business-friendly, and/or willing to listen. Among those profiled, only three fall within every category: Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Sen. Arlen Specter  (then-R-PA), and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn). You'll have to plunk down $4.99 to get the lobby-ability infographic, but it's a beaut, and totally recommended.

Fortune magazine--news you can use.

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