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Do Profitable Senators Need Taxpayer Subsidies?


So. With yesterday’s farcical Senate theater, the brain-trust begs a very basic question:

“Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., who presided over the hearing [said] ‘Businesses should make a profit. That’s what drives our economy. But do these profitable companies need taxpayer subsidies?'”

Huh. Sen. Baucus, you come out in the black, and every year, too. And it’s fair to say, you are somewhat subsidized by the taxpayer, non? The salary, of course. The car. The driver. Retirement lucre. The trips to and from the office and your home. Often, that’s ‘homes’.

Biiiiig taxpayer-subsidized (actually, provided) budget to underwrite your work, which of course does nothing so harmful as produce a product driving our economy. More like slowing it down, if fiddling here and there in hope of engineering outcomes desired by your political class along the way.

Then there are the junkets, and for those you may bring with you. The per diems. The mail costs to promote yourself. Then there’s that health insurance. Yep. Really something when someone, who could pay for these things without the taxpayer propping it up, has hard-working people foot the bill for doing his business.

And as a result you’re now worth …ok, well, there’s a little confusion here, with you having reported a negative net worth, while buying a $900,000 home.

Somewhat unlikely, what with lawmakers only having “to reveal information about assets including investment accounts or rental properties, the disclosure process protects Members from divulging other economic indicators, such as the value of homes as well as antiques, vehicles and other valuables. The exclusion of homes — Senators are not required to report properties that do not generate income, including vacation homes or part-time residences — can potentially skew the public perception of a lawmaker’s true wealth.”

What should we, and especially your colleagues, make of this approach you have announced: if you’re profitable, that is, you take in more than you spend — I’m just reiterating what you said — and, on occasion, quite profitable, if it’s true not as profitable as some others, as you (like oil companies) would rightly point out in your defense, well, do you really need taxpayer subsidies?

This is the question you have tabled.

Did I mention that “One of the harshest critics on the Democratic side of the dais was Jay Rockefeller, a great-grandson of oil magnate John D. Rockefeller.” Mmm. The guy’s annual accumulation of interest and dividends surely dwarfs what most might consider a wonderful year.

Sen. Charles Schumer weighed in, in typical style. A guy who has been in taxpayer-underwritten elected office his entire professional life, and yet somehow has squirreled away more than a third of a million dollars just of what’s reportable.

Your colleague Jeff Bingaman also distinguishes himself for scrutiny, I see. Surely this miracle of turning the water of a cool million into $50 million has nothing to do with taking advantage of his taxpayer-underwritten job. Naw.

Never happens. History’s spate of elected officials getting spectacularly wealthy while making (now) $174 grand a year is a series of coincidences. Still, no paupers in this crowd, with most worth a fortune 90% of Americans only aspire to, and making all sorts of money off of that fortune each year! But of course it’s their subsidies that are the issue here. Do these profitable lawmakers need taxpayer subsidies?

And, now that we have determined that, e.g., oil companies taking advantage of a tax credit applicable to pretty much anyone who manufactures in the country — to compensate in part for the developed world’s second-highest corporate income tax rate — is reaping a “subsidy”…well, it seems all of us are in your sights.

After all, I am in the black in terms of my inflows over outflows, as are scores of millions of Americans. Yet we are all subsidized (read: we’re ‘next’), at least if you look at our tax returns. These are filed under a code thousands of pages longer than it need be, thanks to special interest lobbying of you, and completed with the objective of navigating the various exemptions we are supposed to find to justify the tax rate you have assigned us.

Instead of being directly financed by the taxpayer — like you — I like the oil companies write things off. Home mortgage interest deduction. My business expenses, among other items.

Yet, I take in more than I spend. I produce, I contribute to the economy. And this seems to make me your enemy. At minimum, according to your standard, it makes me your target.

But it doesn’t make me nearly as big an enemy and target as you and your colleagues. Chairman Baucus, will you please affirm the test you and your colleagues are now laying out in this ritual demagoguery of an industry that commits the unpardonable sin of allowing us to make decisions for ourselves, “subversive of the deference on which progressivism depends” as George Will has put matters, plus all of the plastics, chemical, agricultural, medical and other advances they enable?

Because if you do, for once, it looks like maybe Washington, DC, has started a productive discussion.

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