House of influence: Pork is king, even when trying to cut the deficit

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Congress not only punted this week on dealing with the automatic budget cuts and federal debt limit, but it also reminded Americans that pork and politics will always have a place in major policy negotiations.

As the dust settles on the accord reached by the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives on permanently extending most of the Bush-era tax cuts, two infuriating developments have come to light. One is that the new law, which was meant to help cut the deficit, is littered with tax breaks for influential interests. The other is that while these special pleaders were being taken care of, Americans who were seeking aid to recover from Hurricane Sandy were not.

The nonpartisan Sunshine Foundation reported that special breaks were slipped into the law for "NASCAR, Hollywood production studios, U.S. multinationals with overseas subsidiaries, mining companies, railroads and renewable energy firms -- the sort of taxpayers who can spend millions on lobbyists and whose PACs and employees can give millions more to the campaigns of lawmakers."

While that got the green light, House Speaker John Boehner put a stop sign Wednesday in front of the Senate-passed bill that would send aid to people and businesses hurt by the superstorm along the Atlantic coast. Mr. Boehner's neglect to move the bill was so outrageous that it was members of his own party -- Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Rep. Peter King of New York -- who were most vociferous and personal in their attacks.

By night's end, Mr. Boehner had mollified his critics by promising a vote today on part of the package. The lesson, apparently, is that even storm victims seeking help from Congress need a lobbyist.

opinion_editorials

First Published January 4, 2013 12:00 AM


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