February 2, 2009 2:13PM

The Stimulus Lobbying Frenzy

At RealClearPolitics I wrote about the vast army of lobbyists jockeying for money from the TARP bailout and the stimulus bill:

The $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), better known as the Wall Street bailout, was cooked up mostly in secret by the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Board. But the bill was no sooner proposed than lobbyists started flooding Capitol Hill and the Treasury to get a piece of it.

Every company and industry wanted to be sure that it would be eligible for some of the money, and members of Congress worked to slip their constituents and campaign donors into the bill’s 451 pages. By the time it passed, it included special provisions for Puerto Rican rum producers, auto race tracks, and corporations operating in American Samoa (such as Starkist, which is headquartered in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district). It required that insurance companies pay for mental health benefits and granted tax benefits for victims of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill and makers of children’s wooden arrows.…

Next up is the nearly‐​trillion‐​dollar stimulus bill. Don’t expect anything different. Already senators are pushing to get their pet projects and home‐​state interests into the measure. “It’s very intense right now,” one Washington lobbyist told U.S. News. “I’m working late every day, until 9 o’clock, 10 o’clock. Every imaginable client has been calling me with ways of how their business, or their projects, should fit into the economic stimulus package. It’s wild. No idea is too far‐​fetched for people.”

No sooner was the article published than more examples fill the media: “A Republican [in Ohio] called it a once‐​in‐​a‐​lifetime opportunity.” “Cities, towns ready to vie for stimulus funds.” “Road Builders Compete for Slice of Stimulus.” “West Michigan’s stimulus wish list.” “A State with a Wish List for Stimulus Spending.” “Steel industry lobbyists seem to have persuaded the House to insert a “Buy American” provision in the stimulus bill it passed last week.” “JetBlue Goes to Washington to Discuss Economic Stimulus Plan.”

When you lay out a picnic, you get ants. And this is the biggest picnic in the history of pork‐​filled picnicking.