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How to Pass a Wall Street Bailout - Wrap it in Loads of Pork

October 2, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Mmmm…pork. It’s irresistibly delicious – especially if you’re a congressman with an influential constituent that’s asking you for a tax break. The congressional leadership understands this, of course, and they’re using it as a central part of their strategy to get an unpopular $700 billion bailout of the financial system passed through Congress.

Many people have noted that the revised bailout bill that was passed by the Senate on Wednesday and will be voted on by the House on Friday contains a lot of unrelated pork. Most of it comes straight from H.R. 6049, a tax extenders bill that was essentially rolled into the bailout in its entirety. The provisions that come from that bill are widely popular. But there are a handful of tax provisions that the congressional leadership has added to the bailout bill that don’t originate in the tax extenders bill, and have been added to win the support of
members of Congress how voted against the bill on Monday.

Below is a list of the tax provisions in the bailout bill that are not from H.R. 6049 and an explanation of who they are targeting in the House:

1. Wooden Arrows Tax Relief- This is the most infamous piece of pork being attached to the bailout. It exempts wooden arrows (yes, as in bows and arrows) manufactured for use by children from a 39 cent excise tax that is applicable to some arrow manufacturers. It comes straight from a bill in Congress sponsored by Oregon Senators Ron Wyden (D) and Gordon Smith® in the Senate, and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) in the House. Taxpayers for Common Sense notes a Bloomberg article explaining that “the provision would be worth $200,000 to ”“>Rose City Archery in Myrtle Point, Oregon.” Four of the nine Representatives from Oregon voted against the bailout on Monday. That’s fully one-third of the votes the House nneds to gain to pass the bailout on Friday.

2. Tax Relief for Exxon Valdez VictimsCNN explains that this provision would “allow the plaintiffs who won damages from Exxon Mobile for the oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez to average the award over three years rather than treating it as income in a single year.” The provision is strongly supported by Rep. Don Young (R-AK) who represents the state that the Valdez incident occurred in. Young voted against the bailout on Monday.

3. Secure Rural Schools and Self-Determination Program – This provision would extend a program from the federal government to share logging revenues with rural communities that border on Forest Service land. It comes straight from two separate bills in Congress, H.R. 17 and H.R. 1635. Those bills are both sponsored by Representatives that voted against the bailout on Monday – Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Rep. Bill Sali (R-ID).

4. Duty Suspension on Wool Products and Research – This is a duty relief extension designed to benefit worsted wool manufacturers using imported wool and clothing manufacturers who use wool as their primary fabric. It comes straight from a bill in Congress, H.R. 4831. The bill’s main sponsor voted in favor of the bailout on Monday, but one of its three co-sponsors, Robin Hayes (R-NC) voted against it,

5. Abandoned Mine Reclamation – Again, this is something taken directly from another bill in Congress, H.R. 2262. According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, this provision would transfer “interest earned on money in the abandoned mine reclamation fund to the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund, which helps pay health benefits for retired miners and their dependents who worked under collective bargaining agreements that promised lifetime health-care benefits.” The original legislation passed the House in November, 2007, mostly with support from Democrats. However, of the 24 Republicans who crossed party lines ad voted for the bill, 12 were “no” votes on the bailout on Monday.

In sum, here’s a list of the Representatives that are being targeted by the extraneous pork in the bailout to switch their “nay” votes to “ayes” for the vote on Friday:

Rep. Judy Biggert [R, IL-13]
Rep. Peter DeFazio [D, OR-4]
Rep. Jeffrey Fortenberry [R, NE-1]
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen [R, NJ-11]
Rep. Jim Gerlach [R, PA-6]
Rep. Alcee Hastings [D, FL-23]
Rep. Robin Hayes [R, NC-8]
Rep. Jay Inslee [D, WA-1]
Rep. Walter Jones [R, NC-3]
Rep. Frank LoBiondo [R, NJ-2]
Rep. Thomas Petri [R, WI-6]
Rep. Todd Platts [R, PA-19]
Rep. James Ramstad [R, MN-3]
Rep. Dave Reichert [R, WA-8]
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers [R, WA-5]
Rep. Bill Sali [R, ID-1]
Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner [R, WI-5]
Rep. Christopher Smith [R, NJ-4]
Rep. C. W. Bill Young [R, FL-10]
Rep. Donald Young [R, AK-0]

We’ll be watching the vote closely tomorrow, and we’ll report back on who of these Representatives that have been targeted by pork change their original vote against the bailout to vote in favor of it.

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