Friday, October 3, 2008

Got Pork?

OK, I do believe I've calmed my ass down enough to continue ranting about this TARP bill that is supposed to save us all from a financial implosion that was, by all accounts, was to have happened about a week ago if nothing was done. Well, here we are, a week later, with nothing having been done and that would include the financial implosion. Oh, sure, stocks are in the tank, credit is tight and everyone is panicking, but it's not so bad that those guys in the House can't take a couple of days off in observance of Rosh Hashanah, right? Sure. The "financial 9/11" can wait a day or two. Why not?

By the way, you know what a tarp is right? Yep, it's a big plastic sheet, the purpose of which is to use it to cover something up. Oh, the thing is still there, but you just can't see it because it's covered with the tarp. Methinks they could have chosen a different acronym for this thing.

OK, so the Senate passed the bill while the House was off Rosh Hashanah-ing. This is the bill that is supposed to set the guidelines for infusing about $700 billion dollars into the financial arena by buying up bad assets from banks that made loans that they had no business making in the first place. The bill was originally 2 pages. Then it was 137. It is now 451 pages long. Correct. 451 pages. And what those pages contain will do either one of two things. It will either a) shock you or b) really, really piss you off. Let's find out which one it is, shall we?

It's hard to say why the House couldn't pass the bill the first time around. No one was really giving any concrete reasoning for voting against it. One has to think, however, that the fact that the entire House is up for re-election in November has something to do with it. Anyway, this bill that the Senate cobbled together includes what they are calling "incentives" and "sweeteners". It includes what I'm calling "pork", "BS" and "bribery".

One minute, we're all freaking out that it's going to be $700 billion. The next minute, these Senators are adding things to it left and right, making the total cost even MORE. Hey, Senate! The reason we were freaking out over the $700 billion dollar price tag was not, I repeat, was NOT because we didn't think it was high enough! It was because that is a ridiculous amount of money! And how do YOU, the Senators, react to a $700 billion dollar price tag? YOU decide this is the perfect time to throw in your pet projects that you've wanted to get done for a long time so that they will HAVE to pass because, as you may have heard, the financial world is coming to an end. Good thing that doomsday was able to wait until you padded this bill full of your own personal agendas.

Now, I'll admit, there are a couple of things that they threw in the bill that I totally agree with. Some of them even have to do directly with the bill itself! But regardless as to whether or not the things that I agree with are a good idea or not, the point is that they have no business being attached to this bill. It's not about that! It's not about an opportunity for legislation that hasn't made it through to suddenly be shoved through by default! How am I and the rest of the public supposed to believe that you even understand the complexity of the financial mess when you're too busy crafting your own sections of the bill that have nothing, repeat, NOTHING to do with the economic crisis. How can you even justify that sort of behavior? Why are you not spending your time trying to figure out if the current plan for helping the distressed banks is going to work or not? Isn't that what you're supposed to be doing and not tending to your own personal projects?

I'll hit some of the finer additions of the now 451 page document that may or may not save our economic ass.
  • The limit on the amount of deposits that would be FDIC insured was raised from $100,000 to $250,000. That is an excellent idea and should quell a lot of hyper anxiety. No problems with this AND it's directly related to the original purpose of the bill. Nice choice.

  • They are providing an extension of protections for those millions of middle class families who find themselves getting screwed by the AMT (alternative minimum tax). While this is a good idea, they were supposed to have BEEN doing this for at LEAST the past two years, most likely longer. The fact that they're throwing it in now when it shouldn't even be an issue (because it should already be done) annoys me. Still shouldn't be there.

  • They're including $3.3 billion for rural school aid over the next five years. Right. Because regular public schools, they don't need any aid. They're fine, right? It's the rural ones that need help. You jackasses. Nothing to do with the bill. Shouldn't even be in there.

  • The bill provides $8 billion in tax relief for people in the Midwest, Louisiana and Texas who have been hit by natural disasters. No, you morons! Not the "natural" disasters! The "financial" disaster! We're talking about the financial disaster! And you go and throw this into the....ah, crap. Never mind. It doesn't belong in there.

  • They also felt the need to extend being able to deduct state and local taxes in those states without income taxes (Florida, Texas, etc.). What does this have to do with the banking system? Oh, that's right. Nothing. Shouldn't be in there.

  • They've added the extension of a tax break for homeowners who do not itemize their tax returns. How does someone own a home and not itemize their deductions? Hello? Mortgage interest? That's a HUGE deduction right there. How about instead of a tax break, you just tell them to itemize? How is that my problem? And what the hell is it doing in this bill?
Annoyed yet? Hung yourself? Knotting the rope at least? That wasn't even all of them! AND we're just getting to the good part! Welcome to Title V, otherwise known (by me) as Title WTF. You might want to don a helmet for this section, as you could easily find yourself beating your head upon the nearest solid surface.
  • Provisions related to film and television productions. Allows up to $15 MILLION in deductions per film. It's supposed to (get this) "spur domestic production." Spur domestic production of the gazillion dollar film industry in this country!?!? Are you kidding me?!?! (This provision is actually two tax breaks and combined they are worth $478 million over the next ten years. To spur domestic production, mind you. Because if there's one thing we don't do enough of in this country, it's make movies.)

  • My personal favorite: Exemption from excise tax for certain wooden arrows designed for use by children. Wait. Wait. I said WAIT!!! WHAT?! Yep. According to NPR, it's there to "help Rose City Archery Inc. in Oregon. It will save the company 39 cents per arrow." Is it the Civil War again? Do we NEED arrows in bulk?

  • Income averaging for amounts received in connection with the Exxon Valdez litigation. The Exxon Valdez? That was in...1989? 19 years later and they're doing what? Never mind. I don't think my head can take it without exploding.

  • Sec. 505. Certain farming business machinery and equipment treated as 5-year property. Oh, but only "certain" farming business machinery. Well, good, at least they were using their head here, because if they didn't specify, well, then it would just be wrong.

  • Sec. 506. Modification of penalty on understatement of taxpayer’s liability by tax return preparer. So, if you're a weaselly tax preparer and you go low with what the taxpayer has to pay, you now pay...let me guess...less?
Seriously, at this point, if I continue, my head will literally explode. Besides the fact that it's asinine, it's insulting. What a bunch of self serving, self righteous, opportunistic weasels. You see disaster for the country as opportunity for yourselves. That's nice. Thanks for having my best interest in mind when you're voting on this bill.

Hey, Senate! Do you even know HOW the bill helps the banking industry? Do you even know IF the bill helps the banking industry? Do you?! I bet you don't! No, I KNOW you don't! That's because you're too worried about your damn arrow tax and your 2 decade old oil spill and your tractor tax! I want to know who was behind the wooden arrow provision and I want them...mmmm....either hung or shot. I don't know which. But whichever one it is, I want it done publicly. You know, town square, villagers with pitchforks and torches, the whole bit. I'm sure that this is going to sound like the musing of some old geezer, but they have a lot of nerve. A lot of freaking nerve. (There. The 'freaking' part makes it sound less geezer-ish.)

Oh, here we go. Oregon senators Ron Wyden and Gordon Smith are the geniuses behind the wooden arrow provision of this bill. Hand me my pitchfork.

Now, listen, all eight of you who read this, you know me. You know I'm not a political individual, but this isn't about politics. This is about a bunch of people who, during a time of what THEY deemed to be a "national crisis" are running around trying to get things that have nothing to do with the issue at hand done to appease their own self serving egos. It's as if the Senate is really the Reptile House at the zoo. I'm pretty sure that they all have forked tongues (which they can smell with) and they warm themselves by stretching out on a rock in the sun. Snakes. All of them.

Again, I am totally advocating voting for every single challenger for every single seat in the House come November. How bad could it be to have a bunch of new people in there? Worse than this? I cannot imagine that is possible, given this showing by these maroons. See, the thing about starting from scratch is that no one, NO ONE will have any immediate personal agendas. They can all just deal with the issues at hand FIRST and we'll see how that goes.

In the meantime, below are all of the additional tax relief that was included in the TARP bill and all of the other tax provisions and breaks that were included. If you are not seething with anger and the end of the list, then you read it wrong. Just remember, a week ago, this document was TWO pages and NONE of these things even existed. NOW, there are 451 pages, everything below is included and you, you my friend (who am I? John McCain?), you get to pay for them.

  • Tax breaks for those impacted by natural disasters
  • A mental health parity provision providing insurance for mental illness
  • A Two-year extension of the research-and-development tax credit


  • Sec. 308. Increase in limit on cover over of rum excise tax to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
  • Sec. 309. Extension of economic development credit for American Samoa.
  • Sec. 310. Extension of mine rescue team training credit.
  • Sec. 311. Extension of election to expense advanced mine safety equipment.
  • Sec. 312 Deduction allowable with respect to income attributable to domestic production activities in Puerto Rico.
  • Sec. 314. Indian employment credit.
  • Sec. 315. Accelerated depreciation for business property on Indian reservations. (Casinos)
  • Sec. 316. Railroad track maintenance.
  • Sec. 317. Seven-year cost recovery period for motor sports racing track facility (This will save NASCAR track builders $109 million this year. Because it's very important to have tracks for a bunch of people turning left.)
  • Sec. 318. Expensing of environmental remediation costs.
  • Sec. 321. Enhanced deduction for qualified computer contributions.
  • Sec. 322. Tax incentives for investment in the District of Columbia.
  • Sec. 325. Extension and modification of duty suspension on wool products; wool research fund; wool duty refunds. (Sheep fur! SHEEP FUR! They're worried about SHEEP FUR! In other news, there is a wool research fund.)

Your tax dollars hard at work. All $700 billion plus of them.

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