Not that it needed it — lobbying was one industry that kept on growing during 2008 — the Washington influence business is getting a boost from the Obama‐Pelosi‐Reid massive spending bill. In a graphic on page A6 of the February 13 edition, not available online, the Washington Post reports that “A Washington Post analysis found that more than 90 organizations hired lobbyists to specifically influence provisions of the massive stimulus bill.” The graphic shows that the number of newly registered lobbying clients peaked on the day after Obama’s inauguration and continued to grow as the bill worked its way through both houses of Congress.
In the accompanying article, the Post notes that — unsurprisingly — the $800 billion spending bill “is not free of spending that benefits specific communities, industries or groups, despite vows by President Obama that the legislation would be kept clear of pet projects.” My favorite, as I’ve noted before, is
a controversial proposal for a magnetic‐levitation rail line between Disneyland, in California, and Las Vegas, a project favored by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D‑Nev.).
Here are some other recent headlines from the political class’s newspaper of record: “THE INFLUENCE GAME: Lobbyists work stimulus to end”; “A Lobbying Frenzy For Federal Funds”; “Ohioans Seek Slice of Stimulus Pie”; “Lobbyists Get Around Obama’s Earmark Ban”; “Certain Firms, Industries Got Last‐Minute Gifts in Stimulus.”
More on the frenzied efforts to get a piece of the taxpayers’ money in the spending bill here and here.
If you want money flowing to the companies with good lobbyists and powerful congressmen, then the stimulus bill may accomplish something. But we should all recognize that we’re taking money out of the competitive, individually directed part of society and turning it over to the politically controlled sector. Politicians rather than consumers will pick winners and losers. That’s not a recipe for recovery.