Gretchen Morgenson: Lobbyists Win Again In Securing Tax Break For Home Builders

The New York Times's Gretchen Morgenson points out that lobbyists have won another victory that will lead to billions in taxpayer dollars being handed over to firms that helped spur the economic crisis.

The Worker, Homeownership and Business Assistance Act of 2009, which President Obama just signed into law, contains "a tax break that lets big companies offset losses incurred in 2008 and 2009 against profits booked as far back as 2004," Morgenson reports. (Read the full story here.)

The administration estimates that the tax breaks will be worth some $33 billion, and home builders -- who analysts say were key players in the financial crisis by building and financing too many homes -- stand to benefit enormously.

One of the more shocking elements of Morgenson's piece is just how large a rate of return these home builders got for the money they spent on lobbying for this tax break:

Securing this tax break was a top priority for home builders, lobbying records show. The Center for Responsive Politics reports that through Oct. 26 of this year, home builders paid $6 million to their lobbyists. Last year, the industry spent $8.2 million lobbying...

...Among individual companies, Lennar spent $240,000 lobbying while companies affiliated with Hovnanian Enterprises spent $222,000. Pulte Homes spent $210,000 this year.

That's some return on investment. After spending its $210,000, Pulte will receive $450 million in refunds. And Hovnanian, after spending its $222,000, will get as much as $275 million.

Even as unemployment continues to rise and the Obama administration's foreclosure plan appears to be failing, Congress and the White House are signing off on tax breaks that reward those who are partly responsible for our financial predicament.

To follow more lobbying shenanigans, check out HuffPost's LobbyBlog.

Popular in the Community