Senate’s sell-out to corporations troubling

Before senators left Washington, D.C., Tuesday to campaign either for President George W. Bush, Sen. John Kerry or their own re-election, they gave corporations an early Christmas gift: $136 billion in tax cuts.

Among the recipients of such tax breaks is the tobacco industry. In an earlier draft of the bill, big tobacco would have been subject to more stringent guidelines by the Federal Drug Administration in exchange for a $10 billion tax break. In the final draft, though, the FDA guidelines were removed while still allowing the tobacco industry to cash in big time.

Republican Sen. John McCain correctly described this as a “complete sellout to the tobacco companies.”

According to the Associated Press, some tax credits will be used to rebuild farms in Florida that were damaged during hurricanes. But the total earmarked for such uses accounts for only $2.9 billion of a $14.5 billion package meant for disaster relief.

According to the independent radio show Democracy Now, other benefactors include a NASCAR track owner ($101 million) and an importer of Chinese ceiling fans ($44 million). The ceiling fan industry in China may get a boost, but to spend U.S. tax funds to support what is still a communist regime is more than questionable and it is doubtful this helps the average American citizen in any way.

Democracy Now also pointed out that a company located in House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s district that manufactures bows and arrows will receive a $9 million tax break.Such examples clearly show senators were trading favors with big corporations while the taxpayers are stuck with the bill.

As though the Senate’s actions are not enough, President Bush’s take on the matter is not any better. He already indicated he would sign the bill but expressed concerns about it. Those “concerns” are likely a way to save face if the low profile under which the attempted passage of the tax break does not work out. If he had true concerns he would veto the bill.

The rate at which civil rights, and in this case tax money, are being auctioned off to corporate interest is disturbing. Civil rights end up on the chopping block while corporations are increasingly held unaccountable.

The U.S government apparently needs a reminder that it is intended to represent its citizens, not corporations. If this does not happen, before long the preamble of the constitution may still read, “We, the people,” but what it actually will mean is, “We, the consumers.”