Fiscal cronyism

I thought of a nice thing to say about the "fiscal cliff" outcome. At least the tax rates are "permanent." We will be spared the annual last-minute crisis when the "Bush tax cuts expire."  Further tax increases will take a new initiative, not a scheduled cliff.

The exact opposite happened on the special-deal side: all the "temporary" special deals got extended for a year, a recipe to tell lobbyists they'd better stay on Congress' and the Administration's good side through next year, and a lovely way for long-run budget numbers not to reflect actual spending.

Daniel Henninger's excellent Wall Street Journal column covered this aspect well:
The section titled "Business Tax Extenders" gets ink because it is so ripe for "Daily Show" ridicule.

Jon Stewart merely has to read the text: "Credits for certain expenditures for maintaining railroad tracks." A "seven-year recovery period for motorsports entertainment complexes." "RIC qualified investment entity treatment under FIRPTA." Hollywood can expense $20 million of production costs "incurred in economically depressed areas of the U.S.," which must mean most of Manhattan is an "economically depressed area." I've got to get in on this. How about an energy tax credit for walking to work?

Reading through the list, you feel like a sap...a rational working stiff would throw over his 9 to 9 slog to try this: "Facilities that produce electricity from wind, closed-loop biomass, open-loop biomass, geothermal, small irrigation, hydropower, landfill gas, waste-to-energy, and marine renewable facilities are eligible for a production tax credit."

The "We're Green!" advertising slathered everywhere by appliance makers and apartment developers is built on tax breaks dug out of the general fund: There's a $650 million credit for makers of clothes washers, dishwashers and refrigerators.

... Some $30 billion to extend unemployment insurance,... Dependent-care credits, adoption credits, credits for tuition and tuition interest, school construction bonds, a "third child" credit and—why not?—a credit for plug-in electric motorcycles.

....The bill's "Medicare extensions" output new money for "work geographic adjustments," "super-rural" ambulance services, "low-volume" hospitals, and entities engaged in "certain activities relating to health-care performance."

Inspired, I went back to the bill's summary at In addition to a lovely full list of goodies, notice how much of the back end of the bill involves health care. Look for a lot more of this in the future.

And remember -- this only addresses the corporate welfare that was scheduled to end Dec 31. The rest of the iceberg swims on.

Herewith, the summary of the "American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012," dedicated to the charming commenters on my last post who don't think there are any clever deals for well connected wealthy people to avoid taxation. (I incorrectly said "loopholes" in the original post, a poor choice of words corrected by comments.)  There's no need for commentary, just read it.

(Updates: After reading Mark Steyn on the same topic, I think I'll just go back to writing equations. More seriously, my son asked me this morning, "So, dad, is it a good thing they stopped us from going over the fiscal cliff or not?"  Now I'm not so sure. OK, "middle class" people would have gone back to the income taxes they paid in the 1990s. But as liberals like to remind us, those weren't so bad. But all of these shenanigans would have been put to rest.)

Sec. 1. Short title, etc.
Sec. 101. Permanent extension and modification of 2001 tax relief.
Sec. 102. Permanent extension and modification of 2003 tax relief.
Sec. 103. Extension of 2009 tax relief.
Sec. 104. Permanent alternative minimum tax relief.

Sec. 201. Extension of deduction for certain expenses of elementary and secondary school teachers.
Sec. 202. Extension of exclusion from gross income of discharge of qualified principal residence indebtedness.
Sec. 203. Extension of parity for exclusion from income for employer-provided mass transit and parking benefits.
Sec. 204. Extension of mortgage insurance premiums treated as qualified residence interest.
Sec. 205. Extension of deduction of State and local general sales taxes.
Sec. 206. Extension of special rule for contributions of capital gain real property made for conservation purposes.
Sec. 207. Extension of above-the-line deduction for qualified tuition and related expenses.
Sec. 208. Extension of tax-free distributions from individual retirement plans for charitable purposes.

Sec. 301. Extension and modification of research credit.
Sec. 302. Extension of temporary minimum low-income tax credit rate for non-federally subsidized new buildings.
Sec. 304. Extension of Indian employment tax credit.
Sec. 305. Extension of new markets tax credit.
Sec. 306. Extension of railroad track maintenance credit.
Sec. 307. Extension of mine rescue team training credit.
Sec. 308. Extension of employer wage credit for employees who are active duty members of the uniformed services.
Sec. 309. Extension of work opportunity tax credit.
Sec. 310. Extension of qualified zone academy bonds.
Sec. 312. Extension of 7-year recovery period for motorsports entertainment complexes.
Sec. 313. Extension of accelerated depreciation for business property on an Indian reservation.
Sec. 314. Extension of enhanced charitable deduction for contributions of food inventory.
Sec. 315. Extension of increased expensing limitations and treatment of certain real property as section 179 property.
Sec. 316. Extension of election to expense mine safety equipment.
Sec. 317. Extension of special expensing rules for certain film and television productions.
Sec. 319. Extension of modification of tax treatment of certain payments to controlling exempt organizations.
Sec. 320. Extension of treatment of certain dividends of regulated investment companies.
Sec. 321. Extension of RIC qualified investment entity treatment under FIRPTA.
Sec. 322. Extension of subpart F exception for active financing income.
Sec. 324. Extension of temporary exclusion of 100 percent of gain on certain small business stock.
Sec. 325. Extension of basis adjustment to stock of S corporations making charitable contributions of property.
Sec. 326. Extension of reduction in S-corporation recognition period for built-in gains tax.
Sec. 327. Extension of empowerment zone tax incentives.
Sec. 328. Extension of tax-exempt financing for New York Liberty Zone.
Sec. 329. Extension of temporary increase in limit on cover over of rum excise taxes to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Sec. 330. Modification and extension of American Samoa economic development credit.
Sec. 331. Extension and modification of bonus depreciation.

Sec. 401. Extension of credit for energy-efficient existing homes.
Sec. 402. Extension of credit for alternative fuel vehicle refueling property.
Sec. 403. Extension of credit for 2- or 3-wheeled plug-in electric vehicles.
Sec. 404. Extension and modification of cellulosic biofuel producer credit.
Sec. 405. Extension of incentives for biodiesel and renewable diesel.
Sec. 406. Extension of production credit for Indian coal facilities placed in service before 2009.
Sec. 407. Extension and modification of credits with respect to facilities producing energy from certain renewable resources.
Sec. 408. Extension of credit for energy-efficient new homes.
Sec. 409. Extension of credit for energy-efficient appliances.
Sec. 410. Extension and modification of special allowance for cellulosic biofuel plant property.
Sec. 412. Extension of alternative fuels excise tax credits.

Sec. 501. Extension of emergency unemployment compensation program.
Sec. 502. Temporary extension of extended benefit provisions.
Sec. 503. Extension of funding for reemployment services and reemployment and eligibility assessment activities.
Sec. 504. Additional extended unemployment benefits under the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act.

Sec. 601. Medicare physician payment update.
Sec. 602. Work geographic adjustment.
Sec. 603. Payment for outpatient therapy services.
Sec. 604. Ambulance add-on payments.
Sec. 605. Extension of Medicare inpatient hospital payment adjustment for low-volume hospitals.
Sec. 606. Extension of the Medicare-dependent hospital (MDH) program.
Sec. 607. Extension for specialized Medicare Advantage plans for special needs individuals.
Sec. 608. Extension of Medicare reasonable cost contracts.
Sec. 609. Performance improvement.
Sec. 610. Extension of funding outreach and assistance for low-income programs.
Sec. 621. Extension of the qualifying individual (QI) program.
Sec. 622. Extension of Transitional Medical Assistance (TMA).
Sec. 623. Extension of Medicaid and CHIP Express Lane option.
Sec. 624. Extension of family-to-family health information centers.
Sec. 625. Extension of Special Diabetes Program for Type I diabetes and for Indians.
Sec. 631. IPPS documentation and coding adjustment for implementation of MS-DRGs.
Sec. 632. Revisions to the Medicare ESRD bundled payment system to reflect findings in the GAO report.
Sec. 633. Treatment of multiple service payment policies for therapy services.
Sec. 635. Adjustment of equipment utilization rate for advanced imaging services.
Sec. 636. Medicare payment of competitive prices for diabetic supplies and elimination of overpayment for diabetic supplies.
Sec. 637. Medicare payment adjustment for non-emergency ambulance transports for ESRD beneficiaries.
Sec. 638. Removing obstacles to collection of overpayments.
Sec. 639. Medicare advantage coding intensity adjustment.
Sec. 640. Elimination of all funding for the Medicare Improvement Fund.
Sec. 641. Rebasing of State DSH allotments.
Sec. 642. Repeal of CLASS program.
Sec. 643. Commission on Long-Term Care.
Sec. 644. Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan program contingency fund.

Sec. 701. 1-year extension of agricultural programs.
Sec. 702. Supplemental agricultural disaster assistance.

Sec. 801. Strategic delivery systems.
Sec. 802. No cost of living adjustment in pay of members of congress.

Sec. 901. Treatment of sequester.
Sec. 902. Amounts in applicable retirement plans may be transferred to designated Roth accounts without distribution.
Sec. 911. Budgetary effects.

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