So we have a fiscal-cliff "compromise." Here's a glimpse of some of the corporate giveaways that are actually in it
UPDATE: House whiffs on Sandy aid (see below)
The Washington Post's Lori Montgomery and Rosalind S. Hedlerman reported tonight at 11pm ET:
The House late Tuesday gave final approval to a Senate-backed bill that will let taxes rise for the richest Americans, shield the middle class from tax hikes and extend emergency unemployment benefits, ending Washington's long drama over the "fiscal cliff."Last night we were talking about the intially surprising discovery that buried inside the mass of the Affordable Care Act is language inserted by the NRA on behalf of its clients. That served as a reminder of the permanent corps of lobbyists who prowl the corridors of DC larding legislation -- when they're not actually writing it -- with nuggets from their clients' wish lists.
The dramatic vote followed a wild day in which the critical measure was assumed for several hours to be headed for defeat because of widespread Republican objections. The vote was 257 to 167, with 85 Republicans joining with nearly all of the chamber's Democrats. President Obama, whose vice president, Joe Biden, crafted the deal with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), was preparing to address the nation.
Before the vote, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) urged his colleagues to vote for the bill "not as a Democrat, not as a Republican, but as an American who understands that our people believe that action is necessary.'' Yet he expressed some of the reluctance lawmakers on both sides felt over a compromise that seemed to fully please no one.
"I severely regret that this is not a big, bold and balanced plan," Hoyer said. "We had an opportunity to reach such an agreement in a bipartisan fashion. And we will not reach a big, bold, balanced plan without bipartisanship, because the decisions we'll have to make will be too difficult not to do in a bipartisan fashion." . . .
I think we can assume that throughout the fiscal-cliff follies the lobbyists were out in force for what they probably think of as the Great Christmas Corporate Heist of 2012. Today at Naked Capitalism, Matt Stoller took a look at "Eight Corporate Subsidies in the Fiscal Clliff Bill, From Goldman Sachs to Disney to NASCAR." Matt provides some useful background on how tax credits have become really big business -- big-time bottom-line extenders -- since the Reagan years, working his way up to a list of "eight corporate subsidies in the fiscal cliff bill that you haven't heard of" (presented here in simplified form):
1) Help out NASCAR -- allows anyone who builds a racetrack and associated facilities to get tax breaks, projected to cost $43M over two years
2) A hundred million or so for Railroads -- tax credits to certain railroads for maintaining their tracks, worth roughly $165M a year.
3) Disney’s Gotta Eat -- "a relatively straightfurward subsidy to Hollywood studios" in the form of extendeing certain special expensing rules, projected to cost $150M for 2010 and 2011.
4) Help a brother mining company out -- tax incentives to encourage mine owners to buy safety equipment and train employees on safety
5) Subsidies for Goldman Sachs Headquarters – according to Bloomberg, "little more than a subsidy for fancy Manhattan apartments and office towers for Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Corp"
6) $9B Off-shore financing loophole for banks – allows banks and manufactures to engage in certain lending practices without paying taxes on income
7) Tax credits for foreign subsidiaries -- "look-through treatment" of certain payments allowing U.S. multinationals to avoid taxes on income earned abroad
8) Bonus Depreciation, R&D Tax Credit -- "well-known corporate boondoggles . . . projected to cost $8B for 2010 and 2011, and the depreciation provisions were projected to cost about $110B for those two years, with some of that made up in later years"
Conveniently, the Joint Committee on Taxation in 2010 did an analysis of what many of these extenders cost. You can find that report here.
UPDATE: John Aravosis reports at AmericaBlog: "House GOP kills Hurricane Sandy Relief Bill. GOP to Sandy victims: Drop Dead."
Here's some of what John is reporting:
Oh. My. God. The GOP House just killed legislation to provide relief for Hurricane Sandy victims.
The House was supposed to take up a huge relief bill proving relief for Hurricane Sandy victims before closing down until the next Congress, but GOP House Speaker John Boehner killed it, and now they’re leaving town. Republicans are continuing their long tradition of leaving town instead of helping Americans in need.
The most likely reason – Boehner is afraid of a revolt from conservatives if asked to spend even more money, even if it is to help victims of one of the greatest disasters in American history. Conservatives don’t care. . . .