Financial services lobbyists working in ‘hyperdrive’ to soften tax on bailed-out bonuses.

Yesterday, Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) announced a plan to impose a hefty tax on any excessive bonuses being paid to executives of companies that received federal bailout money. But lobbyists for the financial services industry have “moved into hyperdrive” to fight the efforts to recoup the excessive bonuses:

The banks’ main goal is to narrow the breadth of the legislation as much as possible, and they are targeting key players on the House Financial Services Committee and Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.

“All of the TARP recipients are lobbying heavily on the various proposals that have been put in so that they don’t do damage,” said one outside consultant for several Troubled Assets Relief Program recipients.

Financial services trade groups have been working the issue as well, including the Financial Services Roundtable, which opposes the broad bonus legislation.

Though the lobbyists “don’t expect to thwart the legislation entirely,” they do hope to soften them. As Roll Call notes, lobbyists working for bailed-out banks “have a vested interest in seeing the legislation stopped” because most of them “earned well over the $50,000 bonus threshold in the Senate legislation.” Yesterday, a Gallup poll found that 76 percent of Americans want the government to take action to block or recover the bonuses being paid by AIG.