Harry Christmas,This Little Piggy, and The Medusa–Congress Scorecard

I will try to bring you up to date on the Congress, but realize it all goes back into the hat Thursday morning.

Let’s just say::  The lame duck Congress has morphed into a Medusa with: multiple viper-heads which must be chopped off.: 

Late-breaking after the tax break bill Wednesday: DADT has passed the House, after stalling in the Senate. Harry Reid intends to flog the Senate over the weekend on START treaty and omnibus bill.

Biggest bills to track: Bush tax cuts extensions, omnibus budget bill, omnibus “lands” bill, DADT, START, DREAM Act?

We have an absolutely lawless Congress, with discredited members who have been voted out, trying to ram two years of legislation and policy into four days of voting. There are literally pounds of paper in bills that no one has read or that no one understands. It is not constitutional for bills involving taxes to originate in the Senate, which is what the Bush tax cuts bill has just done. It is astounding that this can be happening, but it will have to be litigated later. For now, minimizing damage is important.

There is an omnibus budget bill described in detail below. Michelle Malkin points out that there is also an omnibus “lands” bill which is a huge land/power grab and also contains billions in pork.

Heroes and Heels (so far)

Heroes:

Via Dan Riehl: Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) declared on the House floor today his staunch opposition to this tax compromise. He called it another stimulus bill that does nothing much to stimulate the economy.

Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) “I’m just trying to run out the clock.”

Heels:

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) Young Gun: submits to : pistol-whipping:  with earmarks and then whines.

The usual suspects: Scott Brown, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, and the toad Voinovich.

Harry “the Grinch” Reid: lectures GOP to keep on giving.:  : ObamaCare for Christmas last year was not enough.

WHAT SHOULD WE DO/WHAT SHOULD CONGRESS DO?

The GOP should let the interim government funding RUN OUT Saturday. Just stop and let it run out. Nothing bad will happen. Then walk out and come back in January and fix it all.

Call, call, call and put on the pressure to stop all these “omnibuses!” and the Bush tax cuts extension bill unless: they can be voted cleanly. The budget omnibus severely underfunds our military, yet doles out billions of unfunded goodies to wasteful projects. This is tyranny. We must give lily-livered Republicans the support they need to stop this train for now. Conservative commentators Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh are both calling for a NO vote on the omnibus as it currently sits with $1.26 TRILLION in spending added in and NO on the Bush tax cuts extension: as it is written now.

Remember the Alamo, GOP? HOW ABOUT YOU REMEMBER NOVEMBER 2????

BUSH TAX CUTS EXTENSION

Scorecard: What is called the Bush tax cuts extension bill has been larded with $855 billion in pork projects and passed in the Senate 81-19 Wednesday. (See roll call and attempts to amend) It goes to the House, where the President is begging it not be changed. The House GOP should revolt, and strip away the pork or vote no, send it back and stall it till next year in Senate. Democrats in the House want to raise the estate tax even higher.

OMNIBUS “LANDS” BILL

Here is text of the 327-page omnibus “lands bill.” Read Michelle Malkin summary here. This is a frightening bunch of eco-loon dream projects which have never been heard in a committee. This is Malkin’s scoop. I haven’t seen ANYONE else cover this. This is how fast and furious these bills are being “sprung” upon us.

OMNIBUS BUDGET BILL

Here is text of the 1,924 page omnibus budget bill.

Malkin: A San Francisco Bay restoration grant program pushed by Sen. Boxer (p. 874), Great Lakes watershed program (p. 626), Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta heritage designation (p.880), and Montana forest and watershed plan pushed by Sen. Tester (p. 897) are among the eco-goodies stuffed into the omnibus spending bill.

Taxpayers for Common Sense has more highlights of some of the “sweeteners” in the bill:

Top sweeteners in 2010 tax bill

The tax extension package being debated in the Senate does much more than meets the eyes. While most people are focused on the bill’s most prominent provisions–renewal of the Bush tax cuts, a temporary fix for the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), extension of unemployment benefits for a year, changes to the estate tax– it’s also chock full of dozens of narrow and special interest provisions. While possibly laudable, these narrow, “temporary” provisions are routinely extended, often annually, without a thorough evaluation of their effectiveness. Added together, these narrow provisions result in tens of billions of dollars in special tax breaks without any real debate where Congress determines they are the best way to spur the economy or meet other goals.

1. Extension of Ethanol Tax Credits

The Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit, otherwise known as VEETC, is the largest subsidy to corn ethanol. The tax credit is worth 45 cents per gallon of ethanol blended with gasoline, costing U.S. taxpayers $5.16 billion in 2009.

This subsidy, which has cost taxpayers $21.5 billion since 2006, does not go to corn farmers or ethanol refiners, but to fuel blenders. Blenders, often large oil and gas companies such as Shell Oil, count the tax credit against income tax payments to the U.S. Treasury.

The Government Accountability Office stated that VEETC is duplicative of the current Renewable Fuels Standard, which guarantees a market for corn ethanol, and taxpayers are no longer needed to support ethanol through the VEETC. The Congressional Budget Office also estimates that the subsidies are responsible for a 28-47% rise in the price of corn.

Estimated cost to taxpayers in 2011: $6 billion

2. Deduction of State and Local General Sales Taxes

The bill extends for two years (through 2011) the option to deduct itemized state and local sales taxes from federal income tax, but only if you do not deduct state income tax. Therefore the major beneficiaries are the residents of states that don’t pay state income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. This provision was eliminated from the code in the 1986 reform.

Estimated cost to taxpayers in 2011: $2.8 billion

3. Research & Development Tax Credit

The legislation reestablishes and extends for two years (through 2011) a lucrative tax credit for companies doing research and experimentation in the United States. Companies that have benefited from this provision include Microsoft Corp., Boeing Co., United Technologies Corp., Electronic Data Systems Corp. and Harley-Davidson.

Estimated cost to taxpayers in 2011: Nearly $6 billion


4. Extension of Seven Year Straight Line Cost Recovery Period for Motorsports Entertainment Complexes

Undercutting IRS rulings to the contrary, owners of motorsports entertainment complexes (aka NASCAR tracks) would be able to write-off the cost of their facilities on their taxes over seven years, instead of the standard 39 years for nonresidential property and 15 years for “improvements” (such as fences and roads), as long as the venue hosts an event within three years of its completion. Such an accelerated depreciation schedule would increase the value of the yearly deduction for owners. In addition to wanting to stretch out the depreciation period, which would generate more revenue, the IRS questions whether the increasingly popular tracks really belong in the same tax category as amusement parks. These owners have also gotten plenty of other tax breaks over the years from states and localities eager to get speedways. The provision encompasses all facilities including grandstands, parking lots, and concession stands.

Estimated cost to taxpayers in 2011: $40 million


5. Extension of Enhanced Charitable Deduction for Contributions of Food Inventory

The bill extends for two years (through 2011) the provision allowing an enhanced deduction for the charitable contribution of food inventory. Under this provision, the food must be “apparently wholesome food.” However, “wholesome” food isn’t necessarily healthful or even edible and is defined as “food intended for human consumption that meets all quality and labeling standards imposed by Federal, State, and local laws and regulations even though the food may not be readily marketable due to appearance, age, freshness, grade, size, surplus, or other conditions.”

Estimated cost to taxpayers in 2011: $92 million

6. Extension of Enhanced Charitable Deduction for Contributions of Book Inventories to Public Schools

The bill extends for two years (through 2011) the provision allowing C corporations to claim an enhanced deduction for contributions of book inventory to public schools (kindergarten through grade 12).

Estimated cost to taxpayers in 2011: $37 million


7. Extension of Special Expensing Rules for U.S. Film and Television Productions

In an effort to keep film and television production in the U.S, the bill extends for two years (through 2011) the option of immediately deducting significant costs for most film or television productions. Under this provision producers can elect to expense in the current year the first $15 million of production costs incurred in the United States ($20 million if the costs are incurred in economically depressed areas in the United States). This can be used if at least 75% of the costs are for services performed in the U.S. and is available for both blockbusters and those that go “directly to video cassette or any other format.” This provision only applies to the first 44 episodes of a television series and does not include sexually explicit productions.

Estimated cost to taxpayers in 2011: $162 million


8. Extension of Temporary Increase in Limit on Cover Over of Rum Excise Tax Revenues to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands

The bill extends for two years (through 2011) the provision increasing the excise tax cover over payment to $13.25 per proof gallon for rum distilled in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.

For many years, rum imported to the U.S. was subject to a $10.50 excise tax per proof gallon. For deficit reduction purposes, the excise tax was increased in 1985 and again later to its current level of $13.50. Under long-standing U.S. law, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands are entitled to a $10.50 “cover over,” or rebate on the excise taxes. The U.S. has routinely extended a “temporary” additional cover over of $2.75 (total $13.25), leaving only 25 cents going into the U.S. Treasury. Major beneficiaries of this provision are the liquor companies Diageo and Bacardi. In fact, the USVI is using their future cover over payments to back bonds to build Diageo (the Britain based world’s largest liquor conglomerate) a new distillery if it shifts Captain Morgan production from another U.S. territory, Puerto Rico.

Estimated cost to taxpayers in 2011: $235 million

9. Extension of American Samoa Economic Development Credit

In general, this credit allows certain corporations operating in American Samoa to offset a portion of their U.S. tax liability on income earned in American Samoa from active business operations, sales of assets used in a business, or certain investments in American Samoa. This credit would be extended for two years (through 2011).

Estimated cost to taxpayers in 2011: $15 million


10. DC First-time Homebuyer Tax Credit

The bill also extends for two years (through 2011) the $5,000 first-time homebuyer credit for the District of Columbia.

Top Sweeteners in Stop-Gap Spending Bill


A lot of attention has been paid to the sweeteners sprinkled on top of the temporary tax cut extension bill. But the tax bill is not the only legislation lawmakers are trying to stuff with pet projects or issues before leaving town for the holidays. As the end of the year approaches, lawmakers are trying to attach dozens of their pet causes onto must pass legislation.

1. Expansion of Department of Energy’s Title 17 Loan Guarantee Program

House Appropriations Chairman Daniel Obey (D-WI) has proposed a $7 billion increase in loan authority for nuclear power and an additional $3 billion in lending authority for fossil fuels. The White House asked for $9 billion in additional authority, which would increase the total nuclear loan program to $27.5 billion, to cover a total of four nuclear projects ($8.3 billion has been allocated for two reactors in Georgia).

2. Increased Nuclear Weapons Spending

The administration requested an additional $624 million for the National Nuclear Security Administration to “modernize” the nuclear weapons complex. This is a down payment on the White House plan to pump up investment in the complex by another $4.1 billion in exchange for Senate passage of the new START treaty with Russia. Unfortunately, it’s going to an agency with notoriously poor financial management. At least Congress specified that the funding is “contingent” on treaty ratification, so NNSA doesn’t get anything if START doesn’t take off.

More than $1 billion for various aspects of Obamacare

Erick Erickson of RedState: “Senator Ethanol, The Young Guns and the Politically Expedient”

Taxpayers for Common Sense complete database of 2011 Earmarks

Fiscal Year 2011 Congressional Earmark Requests

DATA SUMMARY & HIGHLIGHTS

Earmark Request Examples From The Database

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS): $1,000,000 to support infrastructure expansion along the Beach Park Promenade waterfront (City of Pascagoula, MS)

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND): $500,000 to support cool season legume research (recipient: Universtiy of Idaho College of Agriculture)

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA): $400,000 to restore the Flynn Mansion (recipient: Living History Farms)

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK): $1,000,000 to provide leadership training to school administrators (recipient: Tulsa Public School System, Oklahoma)

Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN): $250,000 to purchase a back-up generator for a wastewater facility (recipient: Town of Munster, Indiana)

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE): $150,000 to develop and promote new and existing education programs, exhibits, trails and services (recipient: Lewis & Clark Interpretive Trail and Visitors Center Foundation)

Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM): $188,000 to develop a media resource center to promote the cultural richness of hot air balloons (recipient: Albuquerque International Balloon Museum Foundation)

Rep. Mark Critz (D-PA): $10,000,000 to establish the John P. Murtha Center for Public Service (recipient: John P. Murtha Foundation)

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX): $2.5 million to redevelop historic downtown area and to purchase trash cans, bike racks and decorative street lighting (recipient: City of Baytown, Texas)

Rep. Don Young (R-AK): $26,000,000 to construct new addition onto existing swimming pool facility (recipient: Fort Richardson, Alaska)

TOTALS, By Chamber

House $52,754,363,975 18,431

Senate $77,895,491,525 20,863

Total: $130,649,855,500 39,294

TOP 10 SENATE (based on total $ of earmarks requested)

Landrieu, Mary (D-LA) $4,446,730,381

Wicker, Roger (R-MS) $3,675,507,465

Brownback, Sam (R-KS) $2,663,916,759

Menendez, Bob (D-NJ) $2,488,903,098

Lincoln, Blanche (D-AR) $2,460,440,057

Bingaman, Jeff (D-NM) $2,456,909,672

Cochran, Thad (R-MS) $2,443,498,567

Pryor, Mark (D-AR) $2,415,483,207

Levin, Carl (D-MI) $2,385,608,174

Specter, Arlen (D-PA) $2,212,051,894

TOP 10 SENATE (based on total # of earmarks requested)

Menendez, Bob (D-NJ) 855

Wicker, Roger (R-MS) 769

Cochran, Thad (R-MS) 712

Landrieu, Mary (D-LA) 707

Lautenberg, Frank (D-NJ) 661

Levin, Carl (D-MI) 648

Udall, Tom (D-NM) 597

Specter, Arlen (D-PA) 578

Murray, Patty (D-WA) 509

Bingaman, Jeff (D-NM) 492

TOP 10 HOUSE (based on total $ of earmarks requested)

Clyburn, James (D-SC-6th) $1,280,747,782

Edwards, Donna (D-MD-4th) $956,132,708

Cleaver, Emanuel (D-MO-5th)* $946,541,733* (see below)

Kilpatrick, Carolyn (D-Ml-13th) $837,291,023

Wasserman Schultz, Debbie (D-FL-20th) $831,567,504

Cuellar, Henry (D-TX-28th) $783,852,984

Jackson Lee, Sheila (D-TX-18th) $752,495,905

Rothman, Steve (D-NJ-9th) $707,833,401

Hastings, Alcee (D-FL-23rd) $680,676,364

Sires, Albio (D-NJ-13th) $637,239,808

TOP 10 HOUSE (based on total # of earmarks requested)

Ryan, Tim (D-OH-17th) 276

Rothman, Steve (D-NJ-9th) 226

Clyburn, James (D-SC-6th) 219

Bishop, Sanford (D-GA-2nd) 218

Hinchey, Maurice (D-NY-22nd) 193

Engel, Eliot (D-NY-17th) 188

Kilpatrick, Carolyn (D-Ml-13th) 184

Brady, Robert (D-PA-1st) 180

Wasserman Schultz, Debbie (D-FL-20th) 176

Hastings, Alcee (D-FL-23rd) 176

TOP 5 STATES (based on total $ earmarks requested)

CA $7,229,821,498

NY $7,081,207,350

MS $6,679,024,943

NJ $6,293,982,768

TX $6,246,591,005

TOP 5 STATES (based on per capita $ earmarks requested)

ND $3,910.58

MS $2,262.55

NM $2,182.50

AR $2,061.35

RI $1,702.80

Cross-posted at UNCOVERAGE.net

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