AP: Lobbyists Get Around Obama's Earmark Ban

Associated Press writer Julie Hirschfeld Davis wrote an interesting story about something that feels almost inevitable.

"President Barack Obama's ban on earmarks in the $825 billion economic stimulus bill doesn't mean interest groups, lobbyists and lawmakers won't be able to funnel money to pet projects," she wrote.

"They're just working around it -- and perhaps inadvertently making the process more secretive."

Even a quick read of the massive House stimulus bill suggests that influence -- naturally, some of you in the know will say -- will play a role in how a lot of the money is handed out.

Here's what the AP story had to say:

"The result, as The Associated Press learned in interviews with more than a dozen lawmakers, lobbyists and state and local officials, is a shadowy lobbying effort that may make it difficult to discern how hundreds of billions in federal money will be parceled out.

"'No earmarks' isn't a game-ender," said Peter Buffa, former mayor of Costa Mesa, Calif. "It just means there's a different way of going about making sure the funding is there."

"It won't be in legislative language that overtly sets aside money for them. That's the infamous practice known as earmarking, which Obama and Democratic congressional leaders have agreed to nix for the massive stimulus package, expected to come up for a House vote this week.

"Instead, the money will be doled out according to arcane formulas spelled out in the bill and in some cases based on the decisions of Obama administration officials, governors and state and local agencies that will choose the projects."

Government Inc. would like to highlight any stimulus tidbits you can draw to our attention. All ideas welcome.

By Robert O'Harrow |  January 28, 2009; 1:59 PM ET stimulus
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well sen Obama voted to keep earmarks .so how he going to stop them.most lawyers are lobbist.

Posted by: jtrailroad | January 29, 2009 11:43 AM

all of the funds given out should be by grant application so that the funds can be audited. thats how it is done when grants are given to poor agencies. they have a line item budget and only receive the money after filing reports. any changes have to be approved and any missused funds are returned. it would even give jobs to those who have to monitor the budgets as well as independent auditors to keep account of the money. all interest made from the banking of the unused funds must be returned to the government. in the past, the banks were allowed to use the money and not pay interest on the grant funds. there is usually a 5% administrative cost to allow these checks and balances and pay for administration of the grant. there must be clear rules or those who are hoping for failure will surely have all loopholes studied by lobbyist for their benefit. i was just reading cantors bio. he supported the tobacco industry's lies that smoking is not bad for your health and accepted large sums of money to campaign against the tobacco company paying to the states fair and reasonable funds to offset the high cost of tobacco related illnesses. he also accepts large sums of money from foreign governments. i don't think he has our best interest at heart. we must look up the profiles of all elected officials and determine who is working for the people of america and not big business.

Posted by: sm98yth | January 29, 2009 11:52 AM

The Senate and House versions of the stimulus bill do not use of all of the usual formulas to allocate Federal transit funds for the Section 5307 Urban Formula Program. The Senate bill includes $5.96 billion and the House bill has $6.75 billion for the FTA Sec 5307 program in their stimulus bills.

The missing formula is the STIC (small transit intensive city) formula that would allocate 1% of the total to small urban areas (50K to 200K population) based upon small transit systems' productivity as compared to national averages for large transit systems. There are six performance factors. Every factor for which the small transit system exceeds the national average for the large systems, the small system earned a bonus of Sec 5307 funding.

Because the STIC formula will not be used, every highly productive small transit system will be receive less funding as they usually would during the annual transit appropriation bill. Not using STIC will cost my small urban area 37.7% of the Sec 5307 funding we would otherwise expect to receive if the STIC formula was used.

Is this fair - no. Am I surprised - yes!
Maybe I do live in Mayberry after all.

Posted by: dmengel | January 30, 2009 3:24 PM

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