Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders represents the beating heart of the Democratic Party. Why would his colleagues want to shut him up when he eloquently decries “tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires who don’t need it”? The “tax breaks” are also more accurately described as maintenance of current income tax rates, but let’s not get picky.
While Bernie was speaking someone got a look at the tax bill coming up for a vote in the Senate under the agreement Senate Republicans reached with President Obama. In addition to the drastic measure of maintaining income tax rates at their current level for another couple of years, we reportedly find this:
Almost $5 billion in subsidies for corn-based ethanol and a continuing tariff to protect against ethanol imports were wrapped up and placed on the tree Thursday night for farm-state lawmakers and agribusiness lobbyists. Environmentalists won more grants for developers of renewable energy, like wind and solar.
For urban lawmakers, there’s a continuation of about-to-expire tax breaks that could save commuters who use mass transit about $1,000 a year. Other popular tax provisions aimed at increasing production of hybrid automobiles, biodiesel fuel, coal and energy-efficient household appliances would be extended through the end of 2011 under the new add-ons.
The package also includes an extension of two Gulf Coast tax incentive programs enacted after Hurricane Katrina to spur economic development in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.
The ethanol money was added despite a growing congressional opposition to subsidizing the fuel after decades of government support. Last month, 17 Republican and Democratic senators wrote to leaders calling the tax breaks “fiscally indefensible,” since there’s already a law in place that requires ethanol be blended into gasoline.
Let Bernie speak. There might come a point when Senate Republicans start worrying about what voters will think of them in the morning.