December 18, 2015

Giving away cash to special interests | Charleston Gazette

Most Americans never heard of the tax-extender bill, but it’s a coveted gold mine for special interests, who employ at least 1,350 Washington lobbyists just to obtain more goodies from it.

Starting in the 1980s, Congress gave valuable “temporary” tax breaks to certain industries. Ever since, the “temporary” reductions have been extended, time after time, and new ones added. Now Congress again faces the giveaway — which means that other U.S. taxpayers must make up the lost revenue.

During a floor speech Thursday, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., exploded:

“We are giving out $680 billion in irresponsible tax breaks, Christmas gifts to every special interest and corporation that asked for one. We gave Christmas presents to millionaire race car drivers and motorcycle riders, film, television and theater producers, and even race horse owners . . . . We gave away billions of dollars in tax gifts to millionaires and billionaires at [taxpayer] expense.”

Others are protesting. Writing in USA Today, Tim Phillips called the tax-extender bill a boondoggle “that enriches the few at the expense of the many.” He added:

“Every tax break adds to the federal deficit, but by passing them in one- and two-year increments, Congress makes it seem as if the costs will quickly disappear. But lawmakers have no intention of letting the bill expire. They’re constantly adding to the taxpayer’s tab, while making it seem as if they aren’t.”

For example, Kentucky politicians connived to give racehorse owners a $167 million break over the next two years. And owners of “motorsport entertainment complexes” get nearly $100 million. And breaks for “certain film and television productions and live theatrical productions” get $428 million.

Why do some businesses enjoy lucrative boons from the treasury, while others don’t? Should the left-out businesses hire more big-money lobbyists to win the same largesse? It’s a greedy game.

A Rasmussen poll found that 70 percent of Americans “think government and big business often work together in ways that hurt” the rest of the nation. Endless lobbying for more tax breaks for a few insiders seems to support that worry.

By:  Editorial Board