Jobs bill hides pile of pork

Congress was crowing in the media last week about the wonderful things they’ve done for small business; tax breaks and other incentives that will create more jobs for America’s limping economy.

They call it the ‘American Jobs Creation Act of 2004’ and say that it is intended to remove impediments in the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and make our manufacturing, service and high-technology businesses and workers more competitive and productive at home and abroad.

That sounds well and good, but a careful reading of the bill reveals it is another early Christmas present to the big corporations by their welfare recipients in Congress. The bill is worth $137 billion in tax cuts. General Electric, owner of NBC, will get more than $8 billion, never mind that GE’s earnings last year were more than $15 billion.

A number of other firms like Microsoft, Oracle, Hewlett-Packard, Eli Lilly and others, have been keeping their profits overseas to avoid paying corporate income taxes. So Congress provided an extra-special benefit for them–a one-time rollback during which they can return all that cash to this country and pay only about one-seventh of the normal tax rates. (Common Dreams)

Some of the language in this bill would take a combination linguist and anthropologist to decipher. One section contains some legalese that hands a multimillion dollar gift to Home Depot for importing ceiling fans made by near-slave labor in China.

Another clause, in tiny, tiny type, awards a $27 million tax break to foreigners who bet at our horse and dog tracks. And there are others, such as a tax credit for clean-fuel vehicles, the ability to deduct sales taxes from returns in lieu of state and local income taxes; reduced corporate income tax rates for domestic production; a lower corporate income tax rate for small corporations; job creation tax incentives for manufacturers, small businesses and farmers; several provisions for Subchapter S corporations; and there’s even a repeal of excise taxes on fishing tackle boxes. Not all of these things are bad, but it takes a sharp eye and an alert mind to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Lately, we’ve been seeing and hearing U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo (R-16) in a series of photo-ops and tv commercials presenting awards and grants to local small business and touting his efforts on their behalf.

So how did Manzullo vote on this pork barrel pariah? Why, he voted for it, of course. So did the esteemed U.S. Rep. Dennis Hastert. In the Senate, Dick Durbin voted against it while Sen. Peter Fitzgerald gave a true Republican vote in favor.

Interestingly, the Democratic national ticket—senators John Kerry and John Edwards—did not vote on this legislation. Also not voting were: Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.), Sen. Arlen Spector (R-Pa.), and Sen. John E. Sununu (R-N.H.), Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), voted “present.”

The final tally on the House version of this bill was 69 yes, 17 no. When the compromise form of the bill cleared the conference committee and hit the floor for a roll call vote, the outcome was: 280 yeas, 141 nays and 12 abstentions. (Clerk of the House)

Veteran journalist Bill Moyers observed: “In time of war, terror and soaring deficits, you would think the governing class would be asking these corporate aristocrats to make a little patriotic sacrifice like that asked of single mothers or our men and women in Iraq. Instead, they’re allowed to pass their share of the burden to workers and children not yet born.

“At the least, they ought to be required to remove the flag from their lapels and replace it with the icon they most revere–the dollar sign,” Moyers said.

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