Sold, America

It seems to be official: The US govt was sold to private interests who are now lining up to take their turn at the spoils. From today’s NYT:

It has been promoted as a bill to create jobs, to enhance American competitiveness and to level the playing field for companies overseas.But as House lawmakers pushed ahead this week with the biggest overhaul of corporate taxes in two decades, they found themselves briefly fixated on bows and arrows.

“U.S. manufacturers of bows and arrows are fleeing in droves for Korea and China,” said Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin. The problem, he told members of the House Ways and Means Committee, is that American arrows are hit with a 12.4 percent excise tax, but imported arrows are not.

So it was that members of the tax-writing committee agreed to drop the excise tax on arrows, along with excise taxes for fishing tackle boxes and fish-finding devices that use sonar. Liquor and wine distributors were given a four-year tax break worth $234 million and movie studios received a break on foreign royalties worth $600 million over 10 years.

These and other special-interest nuggets were little more than pocket change in a bill that would offer corporations $128 billion in new tax relief over the next decade.

As if the massive corporate tax breaks that created the biggest deficit in US history weren’t enough, corporations are lining up at the trough for more. It’s instructive, I think, that rather than change the rules to have the excise tax apply to foreign arrows as well as domestic ones, the HW&M Committee chose to drop the tax altogether. It’s also instructive that they used this excuse to give away a great deal more to their corporate owners…um, “sponsors”:

[T]hey are indicative of the trade-offs that have been necessary to win support for what began as a fairly modest goal last year: to repeal a long-standing tax subsidy for exporters, worth about $55 billion, which has been declared illegal under international law, and replace it with new tax breaks of comparable value.

Only they aren’t of “comparable value”; they’re worth a great deal more than $55M.

The bill that passed the House tax-writing committee would fulfill that goal, to the satisfaction of manufacturing companies, oil and gas refineries, farmers, movie studios and engineering conglomerates like the Bechtel Corporation and Halliburton.Scores of competing business groups have been pushing for their own piece of the pie, and the conflicts among them became so intense that it looked for months as though lawmakers would never be able to reach agreement.

But now they seem to be getting closer, and they are doing it in the most politically popular way, by giving something to almost everybody.

Except the ordinary taxpayer, of course. Once again, we–and our grandchildren and great-grandchildren–are the ones who will make up the shortfall.

You’d think at some point the corporations would be satisfied. I mean, they own the present govt lock, stock, and barrel, they get everything they want just by whining a little, and the members of the Republican Congress are competing with each other to see who can lick their boots the fastest and make them the shiniest. But they’re not satisfied. They’re already looking for new worlds to rape…er, “privatize”. Like water.

Jim Butler, a lawyer who’s on Georgia’s Board of Natural Resources, reports in the AJC that there’s at least one group aiming at just that:

There’s an old joke out West: “Water doesn’t flow downhill. It flows uphill, to money.” But water isn’t the only thing that flows to big money; so does the loyalty of some state employees. Water marketeers — those who would privatize Georgia’s most precious public resource — have used tax money to commandeer the loyalties of state employees scattered throughout state government and the University System.Under water marketing, water would no longer belong to all the people and be regulated by state government for their benefit. Instead, it would belong to whomever already had permits or got them in the future. Permits would be sold and water piped from poorer parts of the state to the booming Atlanta market.

So get over the idea that they will ever be satisfied, friends. Every victory just convinces them they can get MORE MORE MORE. As Michael Parenti once said, there is only one thing the ruling corporate interests want, and that is EVERYTHING.

If you doubt it, look to Georgia.

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