It only took on the order of $110 billion in additional “sweeteners” to get enough votes to pass the $700 billion bailout bill (a bill almost certain to be a disaster, we just don’t yet know what the unintended consequences will be).
The “sweeteners” took the form of new or extended tax breaks. One can only assume the legislators believed the use of tax exemptions (reducing revenue) as opposed to earmarks (increasing spending) was a significant concession to our fiscal plight and further evidence of their wise and decisive leadership.
And the “sweeteners” got larded out despite vows not to do so:
“We will not Christmas-tree this bill,” [New York Senator Charles] Schumer said. “The times are too urgent. Everyone has their own desires and needs. It’s going to have to wait.”
“We don’t need 535 members of Congress adding their best idea to this bill,” [House Minority Leader John]Boehner said. “We need to keep it clean, simple, move it through the House and Senate, and get it on the president’s desk.”
This historical piece of legislation promises to get the credit markets moving again through such targeted measures as:
- Relief for manufacturers of children’s wooden practice arrows from the Federal excise tax on wooden arrows. Who knew we had an excise tax of 39 cents per wooden arrow? I can only assume this tax is a forgotten anachronism dating back to previous bold Congressional action in the wake of Custer’s Last Stand.
- NASCAR’s accelerated depreciation schedule for racetracks is extended by a year. The $100 million cost to taxpayers is a small price to pay in the name of rectifying the present injustice of amusement park owners having a more favorable depreciation schedule.
- “Increase in the limit on cover over of rum excise tax to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands”. I don’t even know what this means, but I assume it helps distraught and financially strapped taxpayers, homeowners and mortgage bankers drown their sorrows in rum.
I can’t find a list anywhere that links the “sweeteners” with their Congressional champions/beneficiaries, but I hope someone compiles it so they can be named and shamed. If the politicians are already worried about their vote on the main bill affecting reelection in November, anyone who adorned this bill with pork should spend the next month justifying their inability to get their noses out of the trough, even briefly.