Joining forces with lobbying databanker, Columbia Books, Business Week has revealed more about how the earmarks game works. It seems that when you don’t get everything you want on your official budget wish list, you simply submit a letter called an “unfunded request list” to key congressmen on the appropriations committee. After that, it’s just a matter of time before the circulating list gets picked up by the right lobbyist who works his magic to get an earmark approved for the government agency and, most importantly, his client.
Here’s some interesting data from 2005, the only year for which the government has provided complete data. I wonder if it will be the only year. Anyway, from the data we learn that lobbying does indeed pay…handsomely, in fact, to the tune of 28 times the investment. In other words, for every dollar invested by a company in lobbying, $28 is returned in earmark revenue. BW also tells us that the top 20 most successful lobbyists are pulling down $100 for every buck spent. The most effective lobbyists work for Scientific Research raking in 344% of lobbying dollars spent.
With defense spending comprising the largest share of the budget, it should come as no surprise that defense contractors dominate the receiving end of the biggest earmarks. In fact, our own Raytheon merits number 5 on the list.
Curiously, the Alaska Railroad ranks 7 in “Bang for the Buck” with $168 for every dollar spent. Maybe the railroad was destined to ride the bridge to nowhere before nowhere became a reality.