Friday, October 03, 2008

Plate of Pork

So is the Emergency Economic Stabilization bill a bailout, a bribe, a rescue, or a rape?

The legislation that aims to save Wall Street was originally criticized for costing $700 billion. How did lawmakers make it more appetizing? By adding pork! (About $100 billion in pork also known as earmarks.) Congress then overwhelmingly passed it and Bush quickly signed it.

What are we getting for our money? I'll just cut and paste a few portions of the bill:
  • Sec. 301. Extension and modification of research credit.
  • Sec. 302. New markets tax credit.
  • Sec. 303. Subpart F exception for active financing income.
  • Sec. 304. Extension of look-thru rule for related controlled foreign corporations.
  • Sec. 305. Extension of 15-year straight-line cost recovery for qualified leasehold improvements and qualified restaurant improvements; 15-year straight-line cost recovery for certain improvements to retail space.
  • Sec. 306. Modification of tax treatment of certain payments to controlling exempt organizations.
  • Sec. 307. Basis adjustment to stock of S corporations making charitable contributions of property.
  • Sec. 308. Increase in limit on cover over of rum excise tax to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
  • Sec. 309. Extension of economic development credit for American Samoa.
  • Sec. 310. Extension of mine rescue team training credit.
  • Sec. 311. Extension of election to expense advanced mine safety equipment.
  • Sec. 312. Deduction allowable with respect to income attributable to domestic production activities in Puerto Rico.
  • Sec. 313. Qualified zone academy bonds.
  • Sec. 314. Indian employment credit.
  • Sec. 315. Accelerated depreciation for business property on Indian reservations.
  • Sec. 316. Railroad track maintenance.
  • Sec. 317. Seven-year cost recovery period for motorsports racing track facility.
  • Sec. 318. Expensing of environmental remediation costs.
  • Sec. 319. Extension of work opportunity tax credit for Hurricane Katrina employees.
  • Sec. 320. Extension of increased rehabilitation credit for structures in the Gulf Opportunity Zone.
  • Sec. 321. Enhanced deduction for qualified computer contributions.
  • Sec. 322. Tax incentives for investment in the District of Columbia.
  • Sec. 323. Enhanced charitable deductions for contributions of food inventory.
  • Sec. 324. Extension of enhanced charitable deduction for contributions of book inventory.
  • Sec. 325. Extension and modification of duty suspension on wool products; wool research fund; wool duty refunds.
I've only highlighted the ones I found most crazy. But the craziness doesn't end there.


Subtitle A--General Provisions
  • Sec. 501. $8,500 income threshold used to calculate refundable portion of child tax credit.
  • Sec. 502. Provisions related to film and television productions.
  • Sec. 503. Exemption from excise tax for certain wooden arrows designed for use by children.
  • Sec. 504. Income averaging for amounts received in connection with the Exxon Valdez litigation.
  • Sec. 505. Certain farming business machinery and equipment treated as 5-year property.
  • Sec. 506. Modification of penalty on understatement of taxpayer's liability by tax return preparer.
Subtitle B--Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008
  • Sec. 601. Secure rural schools and community self-determination program.
  • Sec. 602. Transfer to abandoned mine reclamation fund.
Again, I'm just highlighting the ones I found most crazy. They are all crazy because they have little or nothing to do with bailing out Wall Street! They were thrown in without any debates. I think something like mental health parity should have been discussed.

This bill was rushed because we were told it was urgent. I heard very few voices questioning the urgency. We were told something needed to be done. When the original bill failed, the Dow lost a record 777 points. But after the new bill was approved by Congress, the Dow ended down 157 points. We're so fickle!

What doesn't the bill have? There is little about new oversight, little to rescue families facing foreclosure, and little to curb executive pay.

Can you remember back about a month ago when John McCain and Sarah Palin wrote a piece for the WSJ titled We'll Protect Taxpayers from More Bailouts? Can you remember back when McCain vowed that as president he would veto every single bill with earmarks? But by casting his first vote in months, he broke those vows.

I guess he shouldn't criticize Obama now for voting on that earmark-laden energy bill that included tax breaks for oil companies while also providing investment for alternative energy.

There are many reasons to criticize this bill and the politics that brought it to us, and I just can't bring myself to call it a bailout or a rescue. That only leaves my other two choices.

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