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As Will Rogers said years ago, “This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.”
That’s how I felt when Congress held a rare New Year’s Day session to pass an even-rarer bipartisan agreement. I’m not one to moan about the lack of bipartisanship in Washington, because when the two parties actually agree on something, it usually involves either putting America into war or handing out goodies to big corporations – or both.
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On the surface, this Congressional get-together looked okay, for they met to pass the “American Taxpayer Relief Act,” widely touted as a deal to benefit the middle class. Indeed, there were some good gains for regular folks in the 157-page bill – but look out, the baby had the hammer!
Sure enough, the bipartisan deal was riddled with huge handouts to corporate interests that hardly need relief. Goldman Sachs for example, one of the richest banks on Wall Street, got a juicy boost from Section 328. It extends for another year the tax-exempt financing that was intended to help small businesses in New York’s “Liberty Zone” rebuild after the devastation of the 9/11 crashbombings. Forget small businesses – extending the Liberty Zone tax break meant that the massive new headquarters building that Goldman is erecting in Manhattan will get a reported $1.6 billion in tax-free financing.
The corporate giveaways in this bipartisan bill will take $68 billion out of our public treasury this year alone. Some of the breaks will stay in effect for 10 years. Now that’s relief!
As Sen. John McCain said of this ripoff: “It’s hard to think of anything that could feed the cynicism of the American people more than larding up must-pass emergency legislation with giveaways to special interests and campaign contributors.”
“Fiscal cliff deal includes at least $67.9 billion for special interests,” www.nbcnews.com, January 4, 2013.