President Barack Obama repeatedly has called for an end to those nasty nooks and crooked crannies in tax codes that grant favored interests breaks not available to most of the rest of us. Democrats and Republicans love to decry them, too.
Nonetheless, as they approved the legislation last week to avert the fiscal crisis they created, the House, Senate and president happily granted about $280 billion in tax breaks to all manner of favored businesses and constituencies.
The men and women of Washington gave NASCAR a cherry of a tax break, estimated to cost Uncle Sam and save racetracks $46 million this year.
"This tax provision is a job creator," Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, told the Los Angeles Times. Thompson's district includes Sonoma Raceway, presumably a beneficiary. "Without it, folks would see job losses."
Not to be outdone by the break given so people can watch super- fast race cars, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., won a $7 million tax subsidy to encourage the purchase of electric scooters, The Washington Post reported. Not surprisingly, Oregon is home to two scooter manufacturers.
Then there is the $200 million toast to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands for their rum industries. Rum producers are grateful. The Bacardi family of rum fame gave $260,000 to federal campaigns in 2011-12, mostly to Republicans. Diageo, another rum producer, spread its campaign money equally among Democrats and Republicans.
No tax deal is complete without a bauble for Hollywood. The bill will allow film and TV companies that produce in the United States to write down the first $15 million of expenses from their corporate tax bill, at a cost of $430 million this year.
There were plenty of good reasons to vote for House Resolution 8. The legislation averted an economic crisis, albeit one that was manufactured by Congress and the president. It appropriately raises taxes on high earners who can afford the increase.
But the next time you hear a politician denouncing outrageous tax loopholes, remember that we all are paying to help subsidize NASCAR, electric scooters, the rum in your mojito and the latest offerings at the cineplex.