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A Christmas Miracle: Hawks Clamor for Deficit Spending as Special Tax Breaks Near Scheduled End

For most of the year, Washington is overrun with deficit hysteria, but right now is that special, magical time of the year. No I’m not talking about Christmas! I’m talking about the joyous season of the January 1 scheduled end of temporary tax provisions that would increase rates for the ultra wealthy and end select corporate welfare programs!

Joyous for lobbyists, at least.

With Republicans desperate to keep taxes low for the very wealthy and Obama adding a temporary extension of unemployment benefits as just enough sugar to convince Democrats they need to swallow it, we suddenly have a massive deficit-increasing bill, and none of the so-called “deficit hawks” seem to care about the price tag. As a result, it appears they are taking this moment to load the bill with as many deficit-enhancing “temporary” tax credit extensions as possible.

Truly, it is a Christmas scheduled-end-of-certain-tax-provisions season miracle! All year, the deficit hawks rejected worthy programs to help people in this horrible economy because we supposedly couldn’t afford them, but with rich people about to pay more and corporate welfare programs set to expire, the deficit hawks’ icy hearts were melted by the sad, puppy-dog look on the faces of corporate CEOs about to see a four percent marginal rate increase.

Magically, all the deficit hawks were transformed by the scheduled-end-of-certain-tax-provisions season spirit. Now their deficit-spending generosity knows no bounds with this $857 billion piece of legislation. The mantra that everything must be paid for, which all year they applied to programs meant to help the working class, has instantly changed to “if you are going to spend, spend big!” Let no tax extension provision be left out.

Below is the bill index, and, as you can see, it contains critical elements like a huge, wasteful ethanol subsidy, a $68 billion reduction in the estate tax that benefits only the wealthiest 0.1 percent of the country, and of course the important “Temporary increase in limit on cover over of rum excise taxes to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.”

Sec. 101. Temporary extension of 2001 tax relief.
Sec. 102. Temporary extension of 2003 tax relief.
Sec. 103. Temporary extension of 2009 tax relief.
Sec. 201. Temporary extension of increased alternative minimum tax exemption amount.
Sec. 202. Temporary extension of alternative minimum tax relief for nonrefundable personal credits.
Sec. 301. Reinstatement of estate tax; repeal of carryover basis.
Sec. 302. Modifications to estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer taxes.
Sec. 303. Applicable exclusion amount increased by unused exclusion amount of deceased spouse.
Sec. 304. Application of EGTRRA sunset to this title.
Sec. 401. Extension of bonus depreciation; temporary 100 percent expensing
for certain business assets.
Sec. 402. Temporary extension of increased small business expensing.
Sec. 501. Temporary extension of unemployment insurance provisions.
Sec. 502. Temporary modification of indicators under the extended benefit program.
Sec. 503. Technical amendment relating to collection of unemployment compensation debts.
Sec. 504. Technical correction relating to repeal of continued dumping and subsidy offset.
Sec. 505. Additional extended unemployment benefits under the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act.
Sec. 601. Temporary employee payroll tax cut.
Subtitle A—Energy
Sec. 701. Incentives for biodiesel and renewable diesel.
Sec. 702. Credit for refined coal facilities.
Sec. 703. New energy efficient home credit.
Sec. 704. Excise tax credits and outlay payments for alternative fuel and alternative fuel mixtures.
Sec. 705. Special rule for sales or dispositions to implement FERC or State electric restructuring policy for qualified electric utilities.
Sec. 706. Suspension of limitation on percentage depletion for oil and gas from marginal wells.
Sec. 707. Extension of grants for specified energy property in lieu of tax credits.
Sec. 708. Extension of provisions related to alcohol used as fuel.
Sec. 709. Energy efficient appliance credit.
Sec. 710. Credit for nonbusiness energy property.
Sec. 711. Alternative fuel vehicle refueling property.
Subtitle B—Individual Tax Relief
Sec. 721. Deduction for certain expenses of elementary and secondary school teachers.
Sec. 722. Deduction of State and local sales taxes.
Sec. 723. Contributions of capital gain real property made for conservation purposes.
Sec. 724. Above-the-line deduction for qualified tuition and related expenses.
Sec. 725. Tax-free distributions from individual retirement plans for charitable purposes.
Sec. 726. Look-thru of certain regulated investment company stock in determining gross estate of nonresidents.
Sec. 727. Parity for exclusion from income for employer-provided mass transit and parking benefits.
Sec. 728. Refunds disregarded in the administration of Federal programs and federally assisted programs.
Subtitle C—Business Tax Relief
Sec. 731. Research credit.
Sec. 732. Indian employment tax credit.
Sec. 733. New markets tax credit.
Sec. 734. Railroad track maintenance credit.
Sec. 735. Mine rescue team training credit.
Sec. 736. Employer wage credit for employees who are active duty members of the uniformed services.
Sec. 737. 15-year straight-line cost recovery for qualified leasehold improvements, qualified restaurant buildings and improvements, and qualified retail improvements.
Sec. 738. 7-year recovery period for motorsports entertainment complexes.
Sec. 739. Accelerated depreciation for business property on an Indian reservation.
Sec. 740. Enhanced charitable deduction for contributions of food inventory.
Sec. 741. Enhanced charitable deduction for contributions of book inventories to public schools.
Sec. 742. Enhanced charitable deduction for corporate contributions of computer inventory for educational purposes.
Sec. 743. Election to expense mine safety equipment.
Sec. 744. Special expensing rules for certain film and television productions.
Sec. 745. Expensing of environmental remediation costs.
Sec. 746. Deduction allowable with respect to income attributable to domestic
production activities in Puerto Rico.
Sec. 747. Modification of tax treatment of certain payments to controlling exempt organizations.
Sec. 748. Treatment of certain dividends of regulated investment companies.
Sec. 749. RIC qualified investment entity treatment under FIRPTA.
Sec. 750. Exceptions for active financing income.
Sec. 751. Look-thru treatment of payments between related controlled foreign
corporations under foreign personal holding company rules.
Sec. 752. Basis adjustment to stock of S corps making charitable contributions of property.
Sec. 753. Empowerment zone tax incentives.
Sec. 754. Tax incentives for investment in the District of Columbia.
Sec. 755. Temporary increase in limit on cover over of rum excise taxes to
Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Sec. 756. American Samoa economic development credit.
Sec. 757. Work opportunity credit.
Sec. 758. Qualified zone academy bonds.
Sec. 759. Mortgage insurance premiums.
Sec. 760. Temporary exclusion of 100 percent of gain on certain small business stock.
Subtitle D—Temporary Disaster Relief Provisions
Sec. 761. Tax-exempt bond financing.
Sec. 762. Increase in rehabilitation credit.
Sec. 763. Low-income housing credit rules for buildings in GO zones.
Sec. 764. Tax-exempt bond financing.
Sec. 765. Bonus depreciation deduction applicable to the GO Zone.
Sec. 801. Determination of budgetary effects.
Sec. 802. Emergency designations.

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at