Congress goes wild - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Congress goes wild

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Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2004 11:16 pm | Updated: 6:01 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

It's as if you sent your dog to fetch the newspaper out in the driveway, and he did that, sure enough, but first bit the man delivering it, dug a hole in the yard, attacked a cat, caused an auto accident by dashing out in the street and barked loud enough to prompt your neighbors to draft a petition asking you to move.

The Senate's job was to pass a bill rescinding a $5 billion tax break for U.S. exporters, and it did that. But before the senators were done with the legislation, they had thrown in another $170 billion worth of tax breaks for the cruise-ship industry, NASCAR auto racing, Oldsmobile dealers and bow-and-arrow makers, among others. They squashed needed revisions in the federal overtime law. And they took steps that would distort the way free markets and free trade ought to work _ freely.

Not everything in this bloated 930-page package is a piece of pork or otherwise abominable. The export-tax break _ an example of American cheating in the international arena _ is scrapped, meaning that Europeans will likely discontinue their retaliatory measures of steadily increasing tariffs on American products if the legislation becomes law. The senators also went after some questionable tax allowances, such as one in which businesses could rent public facilities such as bridges and then get a write-off on their declining value.

But don't suppose for one naive second that this legislation is what the senators are calling it, a well-considered effort to resuscitate manufacturing employment in America. It's an ill-considered hodgepodge with something for everyone, which is the reason it passed by a vote of 92 to 5.

The provisions in this legislation have the potential for wide-ranging mischief above and beyond simple waste at a time of paying billions for an overseas war and other deficit-deepening spending that could be ruinous if it is not curbed. Meanwhile, the manufacturing sector of the economy is recovering nicely from its difficulties without federal assistance, although technologically induced efficiencies constitute a barrier to the sort of job growth many would like.

Now it's the House's turn to deal with the issue of the export-tax break, and here is some advice to the representatives: Put a leash on that dog.

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