The Senate passed the bailout bill today, and a quick look through the text (not sure how any of these links will work - if they don't, go to the Thomas website, type in H.R. 1424, and you'll find it there) reveals some things that, well, aren't related to the bailout. Things like...
- A renewable energy tax credit.
- Alternative Minimum Tax cuts.
- Hurricane Ike disaster relief.
- An extension of tax credits to mine safety trainers and for mine safety equipment.
- Some sort of tax credit for car racing facilities.
- Tax incentives for investment in Washington, D.C.
- Some sort of tax breaks for movie producers, I think.
- Tax breaks for kids' wooden arrows, as long as they meet certain criteria. Better not be crazy and design an arrow shaft 3/8" in diameter...
- Settling part of the Exxon Valdez oil spill litigation... from 1989.
- Relaxing the tax standards on farm equipment. Gotta have the farm subsidies in there somewhere.
- More money to reclaim abandoned mines. Robert Byrd, is that you?
(Hat tips to Dave and Andy for pointing out some of the goofy bits of this bill.)
I'm not saying this is all bad stuff. I happen to like alternative energy tax credits. But shouldn't all this stuff be in separate bills?
The bill was originally titled the "Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act of 2007." Wellstone died in 2002 - it's unlikely that he's sponsoring a bill in 2007. It then became "An Act - To amend section 712 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, section 2705 of the Public Health Service Act, section 9812 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to require equity in the provision of mental health and substance-related disorder benefits under group health plans, to prohibit discrimination on the basis of genetic information with respect to health insurance and employment, and for other purposes." That's a mouthful, and it's still the working title of the bill. The Senate, realizing that the House has to pass revenue measures first, basically hollowed out this House bill and put its bailout bill inside, so that technically the Senate wasn't introducing revenue measures, just amending them. That's an end run around the Constitution that would make Santana Moss proud.
Instant update: Bloomberg reports that the wooden arrow provision was specifically designed by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) to benefit Myrtle Point, OR-based Rose City Archery. Somehow, Bloomberg reports that this big load of targeted tax breaks is supposed to woo House Republicans, who apparently have abandoned fiscal responsibility once and for all.