A milker bill is a piece of legislation which is designed to generate income for a politician or group of politicians. In such legislation, a threat is made which causes people to mobilize to defeat the bill, thereby generating funds, and the politician later helps to defeat the bill, or edits it so that the threat is removed. In a classic example of a milker bill, a politician would propose raising taxes for certain corporations, in eager anticipation of the fact that those corporations would spread large amounts of funds to defeat the bill.
Such bills go by a number of alternate names. They are sometimes bluntly referred to as “cash cows,” because they do indeed generate a great deal of cash for their sponsors when they are well crafted. Some people call them “juicers” or “juicer bills,” because milker bills are used to squeeze out cash much like one would juice an orange. They are also known as “fetcher bills,” because they literally fetch funds for their authors.
Many people view the concept of the milker bill as simple extortion, and, in a sense, these bills are in fact a form of extortion, because they involve the use of a threat to raise funds. However, it can be hard to categorically prove that a bill is being used to extort funds, as politicians can hide behind rhetoric, claiming that their intentions are honest, and that everyone is entitled to a change of mind when they withdraw the bill.
In some cases, a milker bill is actually used to generate straight payments of cash from lobbyists and members of industry. More commonly, however, the bill is used to drum up interest, getting organizations involved in an attempt to defeat the bill in the hopes that the funds raised will slowly trickle into the politician's coffers. A milker bill gives people something to organize and rally around, and this rallying point can in turn be used to fuel fundraisers, advertising campaigns, and so forth.
Milker bills may involve things like claims of tax reform, threats to take income away from certain organizations or groups, or proposals to change regulatory procedures in a way which could cause economic harm to certain organizations. The funds generated to defeat such bills are usually incorporated into political war chests in such a way that they are viewed as perfectly legal, even though the means of obtaining the funds may be somewhat ethically questionable.