An Endless Line of Applicants for Sept. 11 Aid
December 5, 2001
On the scantiest of pretexts, scores of industries are portraying themselves as victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in order to grab some economic stimulus money, say critics.
The claims of the airline and insurance industries are well known. But here are some of the other groups claiming victimization and marching out their lobbyists to plead their need:
- The high-tech industry wants a $540 million tax credit to subsidize broadband technologies.
- Since 1987, the insurance, banking and securities industries have wanted to make permanent a benefit that allows them to delay paying taxes on foreign income until those profits are brought back to the U.S. -- and a 10-year, $21 billion provision to achieve just that found its way into the House stimulus package, even though the Treasury Department says it will have "zero stimulative effect."
- The National Limousine Association is trying to arrange an exemption from the gas-guzzler tax for its fleets -- and the American Concrete Pavement Association advocates more highway construction.
- The National Association of Realtors wants to speed up tax write-offs for improvements to office space -- while pleas for special treatment are being lodged by the American Shipbuilding Association, the American Textile Manufacturers Institute and the Equipment Leasing Association of America.
A few lawmakers are attaching riders to post-Sept. 11 packages without even pretending that they will improve the overall economy. Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) inserted into the Senate Finance Committee bill special tax treatment for owners of groves blighted by citrus canker.
An aide says Graham decided to attach his $3 million amendment when Finance Chairman Max Baucus chose -- for no discernible economic reason -- to add $60 billion in aid to farmers in his bill.
Source: Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, "Knock, Knock, Knockin' on Capitol Hill," Fortune, December 10, 2001.
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