With Votes in Hand, Republicans Are Now Opening the Floodgates For Everyone’s Pet Giveaways

The swamp is back! After rounding up 51 votes, Senate Republicans are busily rewriting their tax bill so that every lobbyist will love it. The thing is already a Rube Goldberg monstrosity, and now it’s time to break out the Christmas presents.

The senator from Alaska is getting a break for cruise ships—but only ones that stop in Alaska. The other senator from Alaska is getting something for Native Americans. The senators from Kansas and South Dakota are both getting breaks for agriculture interests. The senator from Pennsylvania got a special exemption from the new university endowment tax—an exemption that benefits only Hillsdale College, a conservative darling.¹ The senator from South Carolina is getting some money for opportunity zones. The chairman of the Finance Committee is shepherding through a provision that taxes university name and logo royalties. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is a hair’s breadth away from being opened to more oil and gas drilling. And we’re not finished yet. Oh no.

The senator from Texas is getting a break for private (i.e., mostly Christian) school tuition. The senator from Kentucky won passage of a provision allowing car dealers to deduct interest paid on loans to stock showrooms. The senator from Missouri, whose son is a lobbyist for MillerCoors, scored a provision that cuts taxes on imported beer and liquor. The senator from Georgia, home of Delta Airlines, got a provision that penalizes foreign airlines. This is all being done via handwritten notes at the last second, and the result is that about $600 billion of taxing and spending has been redirected within 24 hours without a single hearing.

No one has any idea how this is going to play out. The bill was written so hastily, and the amendments are being jammed through so fast, that nobody has any clue how all the moving pieces work together. One provision, for example, apparently provides an enormous tax break for equipment purchased in 2018—and only 2018. Is this designed to goose the economy next year before the midterms? Or is it just a mistake? Other provisions, in the hands of a talented tax attorney, would apparently provide a gigantic tax benefit for athletes and rock stars, though I suppose no one really knows for sure. Hedge fund billionaires not only get to keep their cherished carried interest loophole—which Donald Trump promised to eliminate—but they get a big new tax deduction to go along with it.

This is, I’m sure, an extremely incomplete list. It’s just what I ran across over the past few hours while I was scanning the news. God only knows how many dozens of other little goodies are buried deep in the bill for worthy donors and lobbyists. It’s an early Christmas for everyone.

Except the middle class, of course. I already showed you how many middle-class families would be getting tax cuts under the Republican plan, but a sizeable number of them will be getting tax increases. By 2027, nearly a full quarter of families earning $30-75,000 will pay more in taxes than they would under current law:

¹At the last second, an amendment to kill the Hillsdale giveaway passed. Even a few Republicans couldn’t quite stomach it.

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

payment methods

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate