With the Senate debate on its stimulus bill cranking up today, interest groups are scrambling to extract their pound of flesh. The Wall Street Journal reports that lobbyists have already helped swell the total to $885 billion, in many cases with small changes in wording and technical definitions. For example, Florida citrus farmers and California wine growers are seeking, with a tiny change, to be able to more quickly depreciate new fields.
A coalition of companies—pharmaceutical, high-tech, and multinational—are pushing for a tax holiday for their overseas profits. And unions are hoping that green technology projects created by Congress are structured to create good jobs, with good pay and benefits. GOP critics say two-thirds of the spending in the bill is waste; Democratic Sen. Max Baucus says the bill “has been carefully crafted to produce meaningful improvements to our economy.”