November 19, 2003
The Smoking Tailpipe: Corrupt Republicans in Congress Preserve the SUV Tax Loophole.
by The Angry LiberalI know there are some of you out there who think to yourselves, "That Angry Liberal is fun to read, but republicans can't possibly be as bad as he describes them." Well, friends, let the doubters hang their heads in shame. Republicans are not only as disgraceful as I've insisted, but Congressional republicans are more shameless about it than even I imagined. And that's a bold statement, indeed.
Yesterday the republican-controlled House of Representatives passed Dick Cheney's energy bill, the one he worked on in secret with Enron executives in the Spring of 2001. To nobody's surprise, the bill looks exactly like what it is: A collection of giveaways and tax breaks for the bill's authors in the energy industry. And why wouldn't it? If Dick Cheney invited you to a secret meeting at the White House and said, "Hey, thanks for bankrolling that little moron and me in the last election. By the way, we're putting together a national energy policy. Wanna write it?" wouldn't you stick in a bunch of stuff to line your pockets? Of course, you aren't going to get this treatment from Cheney, but you will get to enjoy this steaming pile of dog poop legislation by paying interest on the increased national debt, breathing dirtier air, and perhaps dying of cancer. Isn't it fun to participate in the political process?
Republicans got off to a flying start by lying about the cost of the bill. Reported by its republican authors as costing $23.5 billion over the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office has already corrected that figure to $31 billion. Then there were the tax breaks for the oil, coal, and electricity industries, purportedly designed to trick these industries into doing their jobs. Next, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert had this to say about the bill:
That's right. The energy bill is really a jobs bill, just like the nearly $2 trillion in tax cuts enacted before it that produced absolutely no jobs. Am I the only person in America who tires of republicans who label every ridiculous tax cut a "jobs bill"? And shouldn't the money from our power bills go toward upgrading our energy infrastructure? Oops! I forgot. The money from our power bills goes to the stockholders of the energy companies, who couldn't care less about the reliability of the power grid. And if power companies can't afford to upgrade the grid and pay their stockholders at the same time, guess which one they'll do? You guessed it. It's up to you and me to foot the bill for the massive national power grid so Enron can transport cheap power from one region of the country to another region willing to pay more for it. Right, California?
Then there's the provision that would eliminate lawsuits against the manufacturers of MTBE, a fuel additive that is suspected of causing cancer and is showing up in ground water in 35 states. If you're like me and you enjoy an occasional glass of water, you had better be prepared to finance your own slow, painful death from cancer, because republicans think that holding accountable the parties that killed you would be bad for business.
Okay, let's say that you're a republican and you disagree with my characterizations of the republican energy bill up to this point. Let's say that increasing energy production is more important to you than clean air, global warming, or just basic fairness. Let's say that you believe that everybody has to die sometime, and that giving one's life for an industry based in Tom Delay's home state of Texas is an honor for any upstanding American. Well, pal, let's see you defend this:
Our last "jobs bill," enacted in May of this year, included a provision that allows small business owners to deduct the entire cost of vehicles over 6,000 pounds gross weight, up to $100,000. This was done to encourage small business owners to purchase new vehicles for their businesses. Well, kids, it just so happens that some luxury SUVs are over 6,000 pounds, including such small business workhorses as the Mercedes M Class, Cadillac Escalade, Range Rovers, and the ultimate machine for men with small genitalia, the Hummer. It also happens that the IRS doesn't care if you purchase a delivery truck for your small business or one of these gas-guzzling monstrosities to, say, attend business meetings at your law firm's private golf course. Either purchase is completely deductible. Since May this disgraceful loophole in the tax code has cost America $1.3 billion in lost tax revenue as anybody who could claim to be a small business owner rushed out and purchased a tax-subsidized luxury SUV.
Fast-forward to Monday night. Republicans who were reconciling the House and Senate versions of the energy bill were thrown a curve when one of their own, Senator Don Nichols from Oklahoma, proposed language that would limit the tax loophole in question to vehicles actually used for business purposes. Nichols had this to say about the tax loophole:
Did the republicans in the conference committee rally around Nichols? Hell, no! Nichols' proposal was killed by the all-republican committee, allowing this outrage to continue unabated. That's right. You and I are subsidizing doctors, lawyers, accountants, and anybody else who can claim to be a small business owner as they purchase these rolling affronts to humanity. And the republicans in Congress like it that way.
Let's hear from you, republicans. Defend this action. Let's see you argue that this tax code fraud is good for the economy or that America doesn't really need the extra tax money. Let's see you blame the Democrats, who weren't present on the reconciliation committee. Let's see you point out that huge SUVs serve some purpose other than wasting gas, polluting the planet, and stroking the ego of the owner. Let's see you argue that rich people are in such dire straits that without the loophole, they would be forced to drive non-luxury vehicles. And while you're at it, let's see you argue that every card-carrying RNC member shouldn't be rounded up and shipped to Guantanamo Bay with the other enemies of America.
The truth is there is no rational explanation for this action other than the obvious one: Republicans in Congress are simply corrupt. They are using this tax loophole to entice contributions from their largest class of supporters: Greedy, self-centered, shameless rich people. In exchange for writing that campaign contribution check, republicans will see to it that you get a luxury SUV with a taxpayer-funded discount worth many times the price of your contribution. And if you fail to reelect them, be aware that a Democratic majority would certainly end this disgrace. Is it any wonder that George W. Bush can travel around the country (at taxpayers' expense, I might add) and collect $2,000 checks from thousands of rich people? Of course not. Republicans are just like waiters in a political restaurant: If you're a millionaire corporate fat cat, they'll bring you whatever you order with a smile, but everybody knows that a tip is expected.
So the next time you get cut off by an enormous SUV on the highway, show some pride of ownership. After all, thanks to corrupt republicans in Congress, you may have helped the son-of-a-bitch behind the wheel to buy it.
otherwise noted, all original