U.S. Fiscal Cliff bill includes more than just tax legislation

Written by: 
Jennifer Herrera~Multimedia Journalist

The U.S. federal government passed a fiscal cliff bill at the first of January although it was packed with special interest tax breaks. It has allowed across-the-board spending cuts and tax breaks in hopes of allowing some people and organizations to have more money in their pockets, spend more and lower the U.S. high deficit.

According to CBS news, the fiscal cliff law passed so quickly, many in Congress never realized it was full of special interest tax breaks making the bill “filled with pork.” Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, who voted “No” on the bill, says many House members felt blindsided by tax breaks that were never publicly debated. “Absolutely it is filled with pork,” Issa said. “And it is pork particularly because they couldn’t get these through any other way except by throwing them into a bill like this.”

Here are a few of the tax breaks packed into this bill: • Race speed owners, such as NASCAR, are allowed to speed up their tax deductions;

• Hollywood receives a tax right off of about $20 million whenever a TV show or movie is filmed in an economically depressed area of the United States;

• A subsidy is given for rum made in Puerto Rico;

• There’s a tax break if you train a mine rescue worker, and a tax credit for every kilowatt of energy produced by wind power.

The fiscal cliff bill was passed to reduce the U.S. deficit, but it “added $74 billion in spending through changes in the tax law,” reports CBS news.

“The issue with these middle-of-the-night tax breaks is that for many in Congress who had sworn off pork barrel spending, these represent a new level of pork. Supporters of the tax provisions say they will create jobs,” says CBS news.

Dan Houser of the International Speedway Corporation, the owner of NASCAR, says faster tax write-offs will lead to more investment in tracks and stadiums. “It’s not a tax break. What it is doing is creating shovel-ready capital investment in communities that desperately need jobs,” Houser said.

According to Businessinsider.com, “President Barack Obama called the bill a ‘first step’ toward deficit reduction...by raising $620 billion in revenue from the wealthiest households.” 

BYUH Political Science Professor Troy Smith said, “The U.S. Congress has been called the most deliberate body, and recent events raise serious questions about the validity of that statement. Congress is no longer spending time considering bills in community and having the required three readings on a bill before it’s passed. Instead, leadership is deciding the content of bills and pushing it through, giving members minutes to review a bill of thousands of pages before deciding to vote.”

Saira Aslam, a business management major from Lahore, Pakistan, said, “I think it’s a great thing because it encourages showbiz to focus on the environment by highlighting the social issue or areas that are normally ignored. Filming movies or documentaries in economical depressed areas of the U.S. would make people realize about what is really going on in some areas of the U.S.”