What do Nascar race tracks and wooden arrows for children have to do with saving the economy? Congress should be ashamed of itself for adding these earmarks in at the last minute to the $700 billion bailout plan for the American economy. I do not know why I am surprised. I know that pork barrel add on to legislation is a part of the lawmaking process. But, why? If the bailout is such an urgent need to “save” our economy, why would Congressmen endanger the bill’s passage by including additional unneeded spending?
U.S. Senators quietly tacked on a number of earmarks into the 451 page tax package bill that was passed Wednesday night. CNN quoted one Congressman calling the added pork barrel additions, “sweeteners”, to persuade his colleagues to vote on the new bailout plan after Monday’s vote was defeated 205 to 228. Earmarks are flagrant back scratching, vote buying from one lawmaker to another at the expense of the tax payers. The $700 billion bailout package was attached to a $112 billion tax package. The tax portion of the bill includes renewal of popular tax breaks for businesses and renewable energy projects and a one-year effort to protect at least 20 million Americans from paying the alternative minimum tax (AMT).
The new plan includes legitimate provisions such as:
- An increase in the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) coverage from $100,000 to $250,000
- $250 billion immediately available to purchase bank assets
- $100 billion to be used at the president’s discretion
- And a final $350 billion subject to congressional review
The new plan also includes wasteful, needless earmarks for:
- Excise tax exemption for arrows for child archers at a cost of $2 million to the tax payers
- Benefits to employers whose workers ride bikes to work at a cost of $10 million
- Movie company’s can now deduct film production costs at a price of $478 million
- A change in the depreciation of a Nascar racetrack at a cost of $100 million
- A tax break for Puerto Rican and Virgin Island rums that costs taxpayers $192 million
- Wool fabric makers and clothing manufacturers will receive tax breaks to the tune of $148 million
- Fishermen and other plaintiffs who sued over the 1989 tanker Exxon Valdez spill will receive an additional $49 million tax benefit under the new bill
- Corporations in American Samoa will receive $33 million in tax breaks
Many of the tax breaks were written into law years ago and were set to expire. The new pork barrel measures that were slipped into the bill will delay those expirations in many cases. The Senate’s $100 billion tax plan is not fully paid for and will add to the federal deficit just like the $700 bailout plan will as well.