Although many political observers are still questioning what was accomplished during the session of the 108th Congress, the Bush administration and other legislators are eagerly touting the passage of a 633-page tax bill called the "American Jobs Creation Act of 2004."
Commentator Connie Rice has her own name for this bill — the "Corporate Looting and Piracy Act." She says the legislation will create few jobs, but billions in corporate welfare. Rice says there are so many absurd "riders" in the bill that it was hard to pick out just 10 for her latest list: Top 10 Outrages of the 2004 Corporate Tax Bill:
(10.) The Irrational Exuberance Compensation Provision:
"To compensate the 1,800 companies that would lose the export tax break, Congress got drunk and decided to compensate 200,000 domestic companies not subject to the export tax to save them $76.5 billion over 10 years, instead of the $5 billion the 1,800 would have required," Rice says. "Can you imagine Congress wildly expanding Head Start by a factor of 100 to cover thousands of ineligible children?"
(9.) Universal Manufacturer Provisions:
"To fit everyone at this hogs trough, they've defined every business as a manufacturer — so newspapers, architects and makers of sex-free movies are now manufacturers," Rice says. "So broad is the definition of manufacturer that Bechtel, Halliburton and NASCAR are now classified as favored manufacturers who will get over $77 billion in tax breaks. As one staffer said: 'Everybody with a Republican lobbyist is a manufacturer.' Contrast this with the constipated way we define the unemployed or the poor."
(8.) The Texas Tax Cheats Repatriation Act:
"Instead of being indicted for tax evasion, a special group of big Houston corporations that dropped American citizenship to hide their profits in overseas tax havens will be forgiven and allowed to take advantage of the one-year tax holiday and one-seventh of the former tax rate," Rice says. "This is a one strike and you're in bill that grandfathers in only select Houston tax cheats."
(7.) The Overseas Fugitive Profits Amnesty Clause:
"There's no amnesty for immigrants this term, but strike up the parades for the one-year tax holiday that will give a multi-billion dollar windfall to companies like Oracle, Hewlett-Packard and drug giant Eli Lilly — saving them billions and costing the treasury $3.3 billion," Rice says. "Can you see the IRS lowering your tax rate from 35 percent to 5.25 percent? It would never happen..."
(6.) The Fat SUV Tax Break Preservation Provision:
"Congress was supposed to end the absurd $100,000 write-off for three-ton SUV's like the Hummer — but instead reduced the write-off to $25,000," Rice says. "The write-off for a zero-emission Toyota Prius? still $2,500."
(5.) The Nicotine Pushers' Quotas and Preferences:
"Of course, for anything important like trade and tobacco, there are quotas," Rice says. "This bill uses $10 billion to buy out 10 years of quotas for tobacco farmers — affirmative action of the corporate kind."
(4.) The Marlboro Man FDA Escape Clause:
"In exchange for the $10-billion bailout, Big Tobacco was supposed to agree to regulation by the FDA," Rice says. "But while the bailout got through the special interest gauntlet, the FDA regulation did not — and will not become law, despite Ted Kennedy's symbolic passage of just such a mandate."
(3.) The Expense Account Expansion Clause:
"This increases the small business expensing limit from $25,000 to $100,000," Rice says. "This same Congress — so generous with business — requires welfare mothers to count their thrift-shop dishes and winter coats toward their assets threshold to reduce the amount of federal contribution."
(2.) The Leave No Corporation Behind Provisions:
"Unlike the Leave No Child Behind bill, this corporate boondoggle is fully funded," Rice says. "ExxonMobil, Home Depot, cruise ships, corn farmers, coffee roasters and makers of fishing tackle boxes, bows and arrows and ceiling fans all have special tax breaks specially tailored for their needs. And unlike the nation's children, who will be paying down our trillion-dollar deficit their whole lives, 60 percent of these corporations will likely continue to pay zero federal taxes, because their armies of lawyers will figure out how re-open newly closed loopholes that allegedly will pay for this bill."
(1.) The Middle Class Bypass Moves
"The same House Republicans who are the handmaidens to this corporate looting cut out $2 billion in tax credits to subsidize salaries of military reservists called to active duty! They had $137 billion for every oil mogul and timber titan, but cut out the only money that would support the only people putting their lives on the line for their country," Rice says. "And get this: They also cut the charitable car donation deduction that middle-class people take, cut the child tax credit for the poor, blocked restoration of overtime for millions of workers, cut unemployment benefits, cut and then restored war veterans hospital benefits and made it harder for regular folk to apply for bankruptcy."