With an economic stimulus sequel on the fast track on Capitol Hill, special interest groups from sectors as diverse as aviation and banking are trying to elbow their way closer to the front of a long line of industries in need of some help from their lawmaker friends.
Faced with that kind of steep competition for a top slot on Congress's priority list, the Fix Housing First coalition, which has been pushing for another, more robust home buyer tax credit and an aggressive mortgage-rate buy down, has upped its lobbying efforts and launched a media campaign to generate grassroots support. The strategy aims to pressure key congressional leaders into securing its agenda a spot in the stimulus package expected to be passed in January when President-elect Barack Obama takes office.
Ken Gear, Pulte Homes' vice president of government affairs and a key coalition lobbyist, says that the housing crisis is increasingly a key concern for many on the Hill. "I don't think we've talked to anyone who's challenged the need to fix housing," he notes. "It's a question of finding the right solution."
However, for many lawmakers, the right solution is looking more like a foreclosure prevention plan and less like the coalition's proposed remedy. Government insiders are betting that the housing measures included in the package will be limited to a foreclosure forbearance plan and rate buy down along the lines of the Treasury Department's recent 4.5% proposed rate cut.
So, to get a grasp of where much of the coalition's lobbying efforts have been concentrated to date--and where they're likely to remain in 2009--Big Builder put together a congressional cheat sheet that highlights the key lawmakers with a heavy hand in the fate of the coalition's proposals.