There’s plenty of disagreement about whether the $700 billion deal is sufficient and is actually what’s needed to steady the American economy. It’s indefensible, however, that this emergency absolutely-must-have-it bill includes earmarks! In the face of a national economic crisis, our dear senators still found the time to include the following unrelated, non-essential items in the bill, per Taxpayers for Common Sense:
- Wooden arrows: a tax break, backed by Oregon’s two senators, to benefit an Oregon manufacturer of wooden arrows for children by $2 million over 10 years;
- Racetracks: allows auto racetrack owners to depreciate their facilities over seven years, saving the industry $100 million over two years;
- Rum: gives rum producers in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands a rebate on excise taxes worth $192 million over two years;
- Wool: reduces tariffs for U.S. makers of wool fabric that uses imported yarn, worth $148 million over five years. The measure was pushed by Reps. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., and Melissa Bean, D-Ill;
- Exxon Valdez: plaintiffs in the suit over the 1989 oil spill could spread their tax payments on punitive damages over three years, cutting their tax bill by $49 million. The measure was backed by Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska;
- American Samoa: allows certain corporations to reduce their tax liability on income earned in American Samoa, at a cost of $33 million over two years; and
- Hollywood: extends a tax break for film and TV companies that keep their production in the United States, worth $478 million over 10 years. The provision was originally pushed by Rep. Diane Watson, D-Los Angeles.
Interestingly, Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who has promised not to sign earmarked bills if he’s elected, voted for this bill, saying the country is on the brink of crisis. Others have said the pork projects were necessary in order to gain votes for the overall bill.
Somehow, despite all the concern about the economic crisis, and despite all the promises about eliminating pork barrel spending, politicians always find excuses and time to lard up bills. Even this “emergency” bailout. That’s unconscionable.
There really should be a law in this country that a bill for, say, apple subsidies, can contain only items related to apples. If you want funding for oranges, write a separate bill for orange subsidies.