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Bob Moon: It seems everyone wants a government bailout these days. After yesterday's dismal retail sales figures, store owners quickly asked the government for their share. The incoming Obama administration promises to dole out some $800 billion in government spending and tax cuts. I might suggest The Bob Moon Direct Fiscal Improvement Fund. Because as Marketplace's John Dimsdale reports from Washington, there's no shortage of lobbyists with ideas on where that money should go.
John Dimsdale: The Aerospace Industries Association wants lawmakers to know that money spent on space will create good jobs. A group of pornography publishers is asking for $5 billion to reverse a sales slump and keep people employed. Shoe sellers from Walmart to Payless want to lift a tariff that boosts the cost of some imported shoes by 67 percent.
Andrew Szente, who lobbies for the Retail Industry Leaders Association, says getting rid of the tariff would be like a tax cut for consumers.
Andrew Szente: If they can keep that money in their pockets, they can use it on other items, -- pay that mortgage, purchase more food, go to the movies. It's something that people can relate to, and we're hoping that we gain some traction here.
States are also angling for a piece of the stimulus, including help for the ballooning costs of low-income support programs like Medicaid and Head Start.
Aaron Lieberman: In the economic crisis right now, there are more families being pushed into poverty and they need more support. And the Head Start program is one of the best places to do that.
Aaron Lieberman runs Acelero Learning, which provides Head Start services for children and families in New Jersey and Nevada. Every extra dollar for Head Start, he says, comes back to the government seven-fold.
Lieberman: Money that isn't needed for incarceration and increased placement in special education and when you include money paid by taxes and, you know, people who are able to go out and get jobs as they turn into adults. In the long term, Head Start and programs like it generate enormous savings to the government.
Lobbyist Paul Miller says the mere prospect of a stimulus plan has lead businesses, including small ones, to hire a lot more lobbyists.
Paul Miller: For the mere fact that so much money is being doled out by the federal government that if they're not there asking the government to help them and their industries, somebody else will be and they'll miss out on an opportunity.
Congressional leaders hope to have a final bill on the President's desk by mid-February.
In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.