We’re starting to learn more about what was in the “fiscal cliff” measure that the President supported and Congress cravenly passed at the eleventh hour. Of course, the information shows that the legislation is loaded with targeted provisions, tax breaks, and loopholes for special interests — just as any rational person predicted.
For example, the bill included a film production tax credit for Hollywood that allows deduction of millions of dollars in production costs if a TV or movie production occurs in an “economically disadvantaged area” — whatever that is defined to mean. Supporters say the tax credit helps to keep productions from going overseas and “helps get investors who would like to have a significant impact in their taxes reduced.” Sure, sounds good! Let’s make sure that Hollywood fat cats get a bit fatter, so producers, directors, and actors can continue to make sober public service announcements that lecture us not to engage in the crazed gun violence that every Hollywood production seems to glorify. And I’m sure we can all be confident that the millions of dollars that the Hollywood moguls and “stars” have contributed to political campaigns had nothing to do with Congress’ reasoned judgment to extend this tax break.
In the bill there’s also a tax break for NASCAR, to allow accelerated (no pun intended) depreciation for anyone who builds a racetrack. Apparently all of the races on TV and gear that you see people wearing are misleading and, in reality, NASCAR is struggling and needs all the help it can get. Perhaps the tax break recognizes that high gasoline prices have hit the owners of those powerful, gas-guzzling cars even harder than they hit the rest of us.
As the Washington Post reports, the fiscal cliff legislation also includes tax breaks, tax credits, and subsidies for banks and multinational corporations, Manhattan apartment developers and railroads, and even manufacturers of plug-in two-wheeled electric scooters.
With our current system, it’s all about who you know, who you can afford to hire to lobby for your cause, and whether they have the access and power to make sure that, when the last-minute deal goes down and an emergency bill is passed that the vast majority of members of Congress haven’t even read, your pet provision is included.
It’s a great system, if you are one of the people who can afford to play the game. If you’re one of the rest of us, who can’t afford a gold-plated lobbyist to represent your interests, you’re left defenseless. Of course, average citizens are supposed to have representatives in Washington, D.C. They are called Senators and Representatives, but who can count on them to protect our interests? Most of them didn’t even read the entire bill that they voted on.