FreedomWorks Foundation Content

The Fiscal Cliff Bill – Special Interests Profit While the Rest of Us Pay

It’s like deja vu all over again.  The fiscal cliff bill, H.R. 8, was drafted behind closed doors, and lawmakers were given six minutes to read the 154-page bill before voting on it.  Once again, we apparently had to pass the bill to find out what’s in it. (To see how your lawmakers voted, check HERE or check out your lawmakers’ scores on FreedomWorks’ Congressional Scorecard.)

The bill is a total mixed bag, with tax hikes and tax credits and tax extenders and a bunch of random, miscellaneous provisions.  Oh, and the farm bill too, a totally unrelated bill that should have been voted on as a stand-alone measure.

But more than anything, the so-called “American Taxpayer Relief Act” was full of corporate welfare – targeted tax credits and subsidies for companies and industries whose lobbyists have succeeded in acquiring loopholes for their clients.    According to the CBO, the bill actually spends $330 billion more than it takes in with the tax hikes. Much of this spending is for these special-interest tax loopholes that were scheduled to expire at the end of the year, but which will now be law for at least another year.

The Joint Committee on Taxation has broken down the costs of each provision in the bill HERE, but below are some highlights (all numbers are ten-year figures):

Business Tax Extenders:

  • $14.3 billion to subsidize research and development
  • $119 million for companies to hire Native Americans
  • $1.79 billion to promote business investment in low-income communities
  • $331 million for railroads to perform track maintenance
  • $5 million for mining companies to use for rescue training
  • $3.71 billion for “leasehold, restaurant, and retail improvements”
  • $248 million for film production expenses (yep, we’re subsidizing Hollywood)
  • $358 million for “domestic production activities in Puerto Rico”
  • $222 million for rum production in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
  • $62 million for economic development in American Samoa

Energy Tax Extenders:

  • $7 million for plug-in motorcycles
  • $59 million for “cellulosic biofuel” research, including fuel from algae
  • $2.18 billion for biodiesel producers
  • $12.1 billion for the wind production tax credit (more on the Wind PTC HERE)
  • $154 million for energy efficient home upgrades
  • $650 million for energy-efficient appliance credits
  • $360 million for alternative fuels

Farm Bill (Direct Spending, 2013 only):

  • $5 billion in direct payments to farmers, most of which goes to subsidize large farm corporations
  • $1 billion in direct price supports for selected crops (wheat, sugar, etc.)
  • $10 million to encourage private land owners to grant public recreational access to their land
  • $25 million for ‘organic’ agriculture research
  • $100 million to research ‘specialty crops’
  • $30 million to help new farmers and ranchers start up
  • $10 million to promote farmers’ markets
  • $22 million for organic certification cost-sharing

While corporations and special interests receive billions of dollars of tax relief, this bill allows taxes to increase for 77% of Americans, thanks to the expiring payroll tax holiday.  Because Congress failed to extend the payroll tax cut, an individual who earns $26,000 per year will have over $500 per year in new taxes – that’s $20 taken straight from each paycheck.

And the bill effectively raised taxes on every American because it failed to account for any significant cuts in spending.  After all, every dollar of deficit spending is a future dollar that someone will have to pay in taxes down the road.