The Center for Public Integrity, March 13, 2018: Congress snuck dozens of tax breaks into the budget deal. Here’s where they went.
In practice, tax extenders are legislative favors, often slipped into folds of federal bills notable for funding bigger-ticket items — such as military programs, disaster relief, infrastructure overhauls.
And despite President Donald Trump’s promise to drain the Washington “swamp,” elected officials and lobbyists conceived a new round of extenders, where they became law inside the bloat of last month’s 652-page budget bill with little public input.
A Center for Public Integrity investigation of more than 30 of these provisions reveals they benefit narrow special interests that know how to work the system — from race horse owners to StarKist tuna canners to connoisseurs of two-wheeled electric vehicles.
Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that tax extenders and related temporary tax provisions lawmakers passed as part of the February budget deal will cost the U.S. Treasury about $16 billion in lost revenue over a decade.
Given that the Congressional Budget Office predicts the federal government’s overall budget deficit will soon balloon, potentially necessitating expensive borrowing and draconian budget cuts, these are funds the federal government can ill afford to lose, particularly when one considers the $1.5 trillion tax cut Congress passed in December.
On Wednesday, a House Ways and Means subcommittee will examine whether this is a sound way to do the people’s business. The answer may well be no. But if past is indeed prologue, these favors for the favored few are unlikely to soon disappear.