Thursday, October 02, 2008

Outrage and Accountability

It's important to understand that my present state, which is about 3 levels beyond bajungi tilt - steaming in some sort of state bordering on homicidal, really has nothing to do with the philosophy behind the Wall Street Bailout Bill. What's got me fired up is the solution methodology that the Senate came up with yesterday in their version of the bill, after the House rejected it on Monday. I feel betrayed, lied to, and completely without confidence in our legislative system.
Although there are some small improvements in the Senate's bill, like increasing the FDIC insurance for bank deposits from $100,000 to $250,000, there are a total of 451 pages of crap (commonly referred to as PORK) in the bill - roughly 300 MORE pages than the House bill had.
Instead of working to address the reasons why members of the House may not have favored the bill, the Senate instead focused on special interests insertions (wow - that sounds like a category in an adult video store) that would pacify legislators who had been opposed to the bill. The American people should be aware of the "improvements" that were made to this bill, which was described as "urgent," "essential" and "necessary to the survival of our economy."
Dealbreaker did a great job chronicling one of the most outlandish items in the bill:
SEC. 503. EXEMPTION FROM EXCISE TAX FOR CERTAIN WOODEN ARROWS DESIGNED FOR USE BY CHILDREN. (a) IN GENERAL.—Paragraph (2) of section 4161(b) is amended by redesignating subparagraph (B) paragraph (C) and by inserting after subparagraph (A) the following new subparagraph: ‘‘(B) EXEMPTION FOR CERTAIN WOODEN ARROW SHAFTS.—Subparagraph (A) shall not apply to any shaft consisting of all natural wood with no laminations or artificial means of enhancing the spine of such shaft (whether sold separately or incorporated as part of a finished or unfinished product) of a type used in the manufacture of any arrow which after its assembly—‘‘(i) measures 5⁄16 of an inch or less in diameter, and ‘‘(ii) is not suitable for use with a bow described in paragraph (1)(A).’’
THAT is what your Senate deemed crucial to include in the EMERGENCY bailout bill upon which the future of our nation's economic system depends (according to the bureaucrats). If you make small wooden arrows for use by children, you get a tax break under this EMERGENCY FINANCIAL BAILOUT BILL. Our senate even took the time to carefully legislate the exact diameter necessary for a wooden arrow shaft to qualify for this tax break extension. This is what we're paying for.
But wait, there's more... Just look at some of the other items in "Division B" of the bill, addressing clean energy:
Sec. 113. Temporary increase in coal excise tax; funding of Black Lung Disability Trust Fund.
Sec. 115. Tax credit for carbon dioxide sequestration.
Sec. 201. Inclusion of cellulosic biofuel in bonus depreciation for biomass ethanol plant property.
Sec. 211. Transportation fringe benefit to bicycle commuters.
Sec. 306. Accelerated recovery period for depreciation of smart meters and smart grid systems.
Then there's Division C - which deals with taxes:

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. 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.
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 ExxonValdez litigation
The New York Post quantified some of the effects of the above tax breaks in a front page article today:
* Manufacturers of kids' wooden arrows - $6 million.
* Puerto Rican and Virgin Islands rum producers - $192 million.
* Auto-racing tracks - $128 million.
* Corporations operating in American Samoa - $33 million.
* Small- to medium-budget film and television productions - $10 million.
The Post also shed some light as to why Division C, Section 504 relating to the Exxon Valdez has any realm of relevance here, in this bill which is supposed to address the urgent situation with our over-leveraged banking system:
"Another measure inserted into the bill appears to be a bald-faced bid aimed at winning the support of Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who voted against the original version when it went down in flames in the House on Monday. That provision - a $223 million package of tax benefits for fishermen and others whose livelihoods suffered as a result of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill - has been the subject of fervent lobbying by Alaska's congressional delegation."
If that's not the definition of pure political bribery, I don't know what is. It's criminal, and we should hold our elected officials accountable. I have little doubt that this bill will pass the House vote tomorrow - and the great thing is that we will be able to see exactly which congressmen changed their vote.
We'll be able to see exactly which congressmen thought that alternative energy items and tax break extensions for the producers of wooden arrows, for the production of Puerto Rican rum, for race tracks, and for wool research (WOOL RESEARCH! I only wish I could make this up) were the key to a successful bill that will help save our banking system from doom.
The American people are having the wool pulled over their eyes by bureaucrats who have no clue, and who are passing hundreds of pages of irrelevant legislation in this time when, by the government's own admission, we need an urgent emergency relief plan to address the issues.
Hey Senator McCain - I'm a registered Republican, but if there's one thing I hate more than liberals, it's hypocrites. What happened to all that rhetoric about how when you became president you'd veto every bill that came across your desk with a single item of pork barrel spending in it? Is that vow null and void if there's something else you want that's in the bill? Perhaps I misunderstood when I just re-checked your own website and found the statement: "John McCain will veto every pork-laden spending bill and make their authors famous." Please sir, do explain.
At least the next generation should have plenty of wooden arrows to play with.


Anonymous said...

Why are you bitching? You are gonna get a tax break when you make 'Big Sausage Pizza 19'!

Anonymous said...

I always really like McCain because he was anti-pork barrel spending, and now, the biggest bill in my life time gets loaded with pork and he votes for it and SAYS NOTHING!! He lost my vote last night.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's irritating, but this is how it works when legislators need to be nudged to do the right thing, no? The sausage factory floor is not a pretty place.

The Bracelet said...

Dude, have you ever tried to shoot a children's bow and arrow NOT made with wood?


Children will never be able to hit the family cat, their father in the nuts, or any variety of small animal, without a well designed WOODEN arrow.

It's just a fact.

And as soon as people like you get off your high horse and start truly thinking about what's important to our country we'll all be able to finally shoot a quality children's bow while bicycling to work as mine rescue team trainees.

Long live important legislation.

Anonymous said...

much of that pork was already written and just lying around waiting for a legislative instrument...just how they roll in the Senate.

i am holding out hope that the House will be able to vote it down again, but 12 votes are a slim, slim margin.

Kid Dynamite said...

by the way - i refuse to accept "this is how it works in Washington" as an excuse. it's no excuse.

Troy Ohlsson said...

Nice post KD. Classic. So is the same pork just put into each bill and as part of it is passed they take if off of the pork-to-be-put-in-bills list, which by the way is ever growing?

I say we shoot these pigs with wooden arrows that are greater than 5/16" in diameter. Then maybe someone will get the point.

pun intended.