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More Slop, Please!


Nothing like slipping in the perks for your cronies at the last minute:

A huge tax bill that Congress passed last week contained a little-noticed gift for select corporations — tens of millions of dollars in breaks on import tariffs.

Early Saturday morning, in the frantic final hours of the 109th Congress, lawmakers rolled 520 tariff suspensions into the must-pass bill. The provisions will reduce or eliminate taxes on imported products as varied as shoes, camcorders and boiled oysters.

While such suspensions have been around for decades, the flurry of provisions pushed this Congress to a record of nearly 800 for the year. Corporate lobbyists often craft such suspensions to apply to just one product imported by just one company. Many of those companies and their executives have given millions of dollars to political campaigns.  (emphasis mine)

Oink! Oink!  And they wonder why we say that more oversight, accountability and sunshine are needed?  Sheesh!  But if you think this is just the same old cronyism leading to bigger corporate profits that don't impact the little guy much, think again:

Under informal congressional guidelines, individual tariff suspensions are supposed to cost no more than $500,000 a year in lost taxes. But a Washington Post investigation, published in September, found that the authors of a number of the provisions managed to quietly file multiple measures aimed at a single product. That strategy can allow individual importers to pocket millions of dollars in tax savings.

Rep. Sander M. Levin (D-Mich.), who is expected to chair the House Ways and Means subcommittee on trade next year, said yesterday that he favors including in the suspension measures the names of the companies that would benefit. He also wants to close loopholes that allow companies to evade the $500,000 cap.

"The old days of lack of transparency, I think those days have to end," Levin said. "These are supposed to be small items. . . . I am in favor of keeping it small and making it totally open."

Altogether, the suspensions passed this year could cost the Treasury hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue. The previous Congress approved about 440 new and extended suspensions, at an estimated cost of $172 million.  (emphasis mine)

Nice deficit you have there.  Oh yeah. The next person who tries to tell me that Republicans are the party of fiscal responsibility are going to get an earful. Shameful gluttony and crass cronyism — there's your Grand Old Party — more slop, anyone? And for every "fiscal conservative" out there saying "hey, that's not MY Republican party…these people don't speak for me," I ask — what have you been doing to try and stop them?  Silence equals complicity — and it is well past time for the people who claim to be the financial grown-ups to stand up and act like they have some sense and some integrity.  Enough is enough.

(H/T to TeddySanFran for sending me the link on this article.  Infuriating doesn't begin to describe it.)

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com